Rescue Funding Closes Gaps

and Brings New Opportunity to Region

An unprecedented amount of funds brings with it the opportunity for housing-related progress across the Monterey Bay region. A combination of federal funds, alongside state relief efforts could fill some of the fiscal gaps created as a result of the pandemic for local governments, directly and indirectly impacting affordable housing efforts and opportunities. 

In all, the Monterey Bay region is in line to receive close to $280 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, an opportunity to make an impactful investment in the economic recovery of the region. See an allocation list by city on MBEP’s website. These ARPA funds are discretionary funds and are separate from other relief efforts (such as wildfire disaster tax credits from the State) that are also being offered to our region.

Here are just a few of the ways relief funds will assist housing across the region:

In Santa Cruz County, as many as seven affordable projects have the potential to receive a combined $12 million in low-income housing tax credits allocated for wildfire relief. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) provided the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC with additional 9% federal tax credits for multifamily housing projects in certain disaster areas, in recognition of the 2020 wildfire disasters occurring in California. Santa Cruz County was among the 22 counties selected for the competitive disaster tax credits.

With a combined total of 468 units across seven projects, the impact of those tax credits on moving development forward could be significant.

“The good news is, we have this allocation for disaster credits for about $12 million, which is in addition to the normal amount of tax credits which would be available for our area,” says Santa Cruz County Principal Planner Suzanne Ise.

It’s the equivalent of several years’ worth of tax credits for affordable housing, says Ise, and multiple projects are prepared to put those funds to use. Project applicants include four by MidPen Housing. and individual projects by Eden Housing, Novin Development and Pacific Union Housing Group. 

The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) is expected to announce allocations at its Sept. 29 meeting. And while not all applicants may be selected, they could still receive funding as a result of the normal 9 percent credit competition.

“It’s quite likely that we’ll have four or five new projects breaking ground in the next couple of years,” says Ise.

Bay Federal Credit Union has been awarded $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Rapid Response Program. 

The program awarded a total of $1.25 billion in grants to 863 institutions across the country that are officially certified as CDFIs, and will provide necessary capital for CDFIs to respond to economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. To receive the CDFI certification, organizations must have a primary mission of promoting community development and provide development services alongside their financial activities.

Bay Federal Credit Union will use these funds and invest them in their local community through home loans, auto loans, and through programs that support members who may be financially struggling due to the pandemic. The Credit Union has also recently lowered their home loan rates to do their part to make homeownership more accessible for both first-time homebuyers and refinances.

“We are honored to receive this grant,” said Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union. “The combination of the pandemic and rising costs in our community, including housing, have disproportionately impacted certain groups of people in our community. The grant funds will allow us to expand financial support to those in need.” 

Bay Federal is one of 244 credit unions that received grant funds. 

Goodwill Central Coast, in collaboration with the County of Monterey and United Way Monterey County, is providing rental fund assistance to eligible tenants who are experiencing unemployment and loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March, the $2 million Monterey County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) has issued nearly $930,000 in rent and utility relief to Monterey County tenants who meet specific income requirements. The program aims to keep people housed and prevent homelessness, offsetting money that is owed and helping landlords pay their mortgage.

Funded by a $2 million grant from Monterey County’s Department of Social Services, ERAP continues the relief outreach t collectively provided by those organizations, supported by a community impact grant, through December 2020.

“We’ve been really successful in getting the money out to people and doing the outreach,” says Jaime Reynolds, Vice President of Workforce & Administration/Corporate Compliance Officer for Goodwill Central Coast. “This works in favor of both the tenant and the landlord.”

Applicants must be at or below 50 to 80 percent of the area median income for Monterey County.

To apply, Monterey County residents can fill out the application at www.MCRentHelp.com  or call 211 Monterey County by dialing 211.  

For more information about the program, including requirements for landlords, eligibility criteria for tenants, and the application process, visit www.unitedwaymcca.org/county-rent-and-utility.