Molly O’Dell: Measure K could unlock millions for affordable housing |

Molly O’Dell: Measure K could unlock millions for affordable housing

Measure K could unlock millions for affordable housing

After graduating from UCLA over 20 years ago, I began work at an accounting firm in San Francisco. Early on, I developed a niche: teaching real estate developers how to use low-income housing tax credits in order to build or rehabilitate affordable housing. I was thrilled to be able to work in a field that was “doing good.”

Let’s be clear: affordable housing is bipartisan policy. This benefits everyone. Low-income housing tax credits provide a tax offset to investors who partner up with real estate developers to build affordable housing. Investors get a reduction in their taxes in exchange for providing capital to build the affordable housing. Because the developers receive capital as a financing source, they need less debt. Less debt means they can charge lower rents.

We are in a housing crisis all over California. The tax credit program is extremely competitive, with one in four proposed projects generally getting approved. The tax credits available are limited based on state population. Twice a year, applications go in from all over the state. They are scored based on amenities (after school programs, proximity to bus stops, hospitals, and grocery stores, etc.), use of sustainable building methods, and how low the rents are, among other things. The standards are very high. Everyone maxes out points to win. The clincher is this: the tiebreaker for the competition is based on “leveraged soft resources” committed to the project – which includes local government funds. This is where Measure K comes in. The $700,000 or so generated annually from Measure K will not act alone. Measure K funds will be critical to compete in the low-income housing tax credit tiebreaker, providing access to millions in additional funding that can incentivize developers to choose to build affordable housing in Truckee. Vote Yes on Measure K!

Molly O’Dell


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