Preserving Affordability, Preventing Displacement: Acquisition-Rehabilitation of Unsubsidized Affordable Housing in the Bay Area

James Yelen ,
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
This report draws on lessons learned from recent efforts in three Bay Area jurisdictions to distill best practices for designing and implementing local acquisition-rehab preservation programs. It includes case studies that illustrate the impacts acquisition-rehab efforts have had on communities, profiles of recent financing initiatives aimed at supporting this work, and an analysis of development costs for a sample of properties recently acquired by nonprofit stewards.

Across the country, communities are turning to a bold strategy to combat rising housing costs, displacement and homelessness: The preservation of unsubsidized affordable housing occupied by low-income residents, also known as acquisition-rehabilitation. The unique characteristics of acquisition-rehabilitation – such as working with tenants in place and preserving a smaller and aging building stock as permanently affordable – require a tailored approach and multi-sector support and investment.

Between 2012 and 2017, the Bay Area alone lost roughly 32,000 unsubsidized affordable homes per year, an indicator of rapidly increasing housing costs and the displacement of long-time residents from the region. Building upon lessons learned from community-based organizations and public agencies that have implemented effective programs and practices, this report offers guidance for building an effective preservation ecosystem with the goal of scaling this approach across the region.

Five key recommendations have emerged from the study:
•    Secure funding and financing beyond local subsidy programs
•    Strengthen and build partnerships among the diverse stakeholders involved in this work
•    Support capacity building for the unique aspects of occupied acquisition-rehab
•    Pass complementary policies at the state and local level, such as right of first offer/refusal policies
•    Improve and develop new tools for practitioners and residents to help guide local efforts

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