Joanne Webster: The Workforce Scarcity is Near

California continues its steady march toward a massive workforce shortage over the next decade, with the last of the Baby Boomers expected to retire soon. This will result in a plethora of job openings and not enough qualified candidates with essential professional and technical skills.

Not always do labor and business agree, but on the workforce demand, we are in the same boat. We all need to support a solution that will go far to ensure a workforce exists when business needs it, so that Californians who need good-paying jobs can support themselves and their families, and so that communities can thrive with robust economies.

The pending workforce deficiencies are a problem-in-common across nearly every sector. From health care to hospitality, California’s economy demands more highly trained workers than ever before. By 2030, close to 38% of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree and another third will require some postsecondary education short of a bachelor’s.

At the same time, the state’s largest and most highly educated generation, Baby Boomers, are reaching retirement age. From 2008 to 2018, more than 1.4 million Baby Boomers left the state’s workforce, 700,000 of whom hold bachelor’s degrees.

What does this Baby Boomer exodus mean?

Currently, the latest data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates there are 8.5 million job openings in the U.S. but only 6.5 million unemployed workers. This means we have a surplus of jobs and not enough workers to fill them. Even if every unemployed person found employment, millions of positions would remain unfilled.

If California fails to educate and train enough people to replace retiring boomers and meet increasing demand, such a mismatch could slow economic growth and increase inequality, forcing more Californians into a lower tier of earning potential.

To prevent that kind of crisis, California needs to expand the number of students graduating from our community colleges and state universities. Those institutions have tremendous potential to train the people needed to fill the jobs of the future, particularly roles that require training for technical skills.

The state is moving in that direction, but there’s a big problem: the cost of college is beyond the reach of too many students and their families. And even those who are able to enroll in college face daunting challenges that force many to quit before they finish.

Students have many reasons for leaving college without completing their degree, but a primary one is as simple as dollars and cents. Recent polling shows the vast majority of individuals of working age without a degree cite cost related barriers as the primary reasons for not pursuing higher education. Too many simply cannot afford the cost of college including covering their basic needs for food and housing.

That’s why more financial aid, without the requirement to repay it, is so important. Students who receive sufficient aid can focus on their studies. They can also avoid taking on excessive debt.

State financial aid is an essential supplement to the rising costs of inflation on basic needs and the costs of education. But we need to simplify our system so that students and parents can easily and readily access the funds for which they qualify.

California can take a first step toward doing so by implementing Cal Grant reform — assuring students and families that there is aid waiting for them, specifically intended to provide opportunity they might otherwise never know.

As California leaders grapple with its budgetary outlook, it must consider strategic investments that will enable the state to bounce back stronger and pay significant dividends for our economic future. Estimates show that tens of thousands of students would benefit from the 2022 Cal Grant changes, fueling our workforce and stabilizing our economy. However, the necessary funding has yet to be realized.

Smart, future-focused investments help build more than just successful individuals — they build a thriving society. California’s higher education systems can be the greatest engine of economic mobility in the world, lifting people up and creating a more equitable distribution of income. But that will only happen if the students who are graduating from our high schools and entering college have the resources, they need to train them for the jobs available in our increasingly technological world.

Leaders must act decisively to invest in people, thereby fortifying our workforce for the challenges ahead. The well-being of individuals, families, communities, and the state economy hinges upon this critical action.

Marin Voice: Affordable Housing is Basic Human Right, Economic Imperative

Written in an article by Chandra Alexandre, CEO of Community Action Marin and Joanne Webster, president and CEO of the North Bay Leadership Council, “Access to housing is one of the greatest issues facing Marin County. It impacts employers and employees alike. We need more – not less – housing stock. A commitment to build affordable housing is both a demonstration of our shared values and an economic imperative critical to Marin’s future.

Between April 2023 and April 2024, Marin added 1,700 jobs to the local economy. But when it comes to new construction in the county, only 1,700 new units were built in the past decade. This reality has created a severe housing shortage that impacts us all and undermines our county’s long-term economic vitality.

The inability to house our workforce in Marin translates to a loss of talent and reduces productivity. It limits innovation and profit, as well as decreasing the quality of life across our communities.

In the realm of our local economy, we’re facing a predictable talent shortage that is being driven by the housing crisis. Employers across sectors that include health care, education, essential services and more report significant barriers to recruitment and retention. Many employers have had to offer increasingly higher wages and other perks to attract and retain talent which cuts into their bottom line.

These costs are passed on to consumers, showing up in increased wait times and limited access as well as driving up what we pay for goods and services. An estimated 45,000 people in the Marin workforce commute to work – and this number is growing. In the past 10 years, commuters coming into Marin from other counties increased by nearly 8,000 people.

Meanwhile, the number of workers who both live and were employed in Marin dropped by about 10,000 people. Long commutes and housing instability lead to increased stress, poorer health outcomes and reduced opportunities for social mobility. This doesn’t include the impact that super commuting has on traffic congestion and the environment, both key issues of concern to many in Marin.

A 2023 needs-assessment report conducted by Community Action Marin shows the affordable housing crisis is disproportionately impacting people of color, with 58% of Latino and 56% of Black renters spending more than 30% of their income on housing. The racial inequity in Marin is embarrassingly visible, with affordable housing concentrated in certain crowded and segregated neighborhoods in Novato, Marin City and San Rafael.

Many families in these neighborhoods are doubling and tripling up in housing units just to be able to afford rent. Recent census data shows that the incidence of overcrowding in rental units is a shocking 7% in Marin. And that’s just what’s officially reported. It’s likely much higher.

Marin County Superintendent of Schools John A. Carroll sees firsthand that children in overcrowded housing situations are more likely to struggle academically and face health, emotional, and behavioral challenges. He has addressed the fallout that is hurting our community and our children.

“Affordable housing is not just a cornerstone of our community’s well-being; it’s essential for attracting and retaining the talented educators who shape our children’s futures,” Carroll said. “Without stable, affordable homes, we cannot expect to maintain the high standards of education our students deserve. Investing in affordable housing is investing in the strength and sustainability of our schools.”

The cost of inaction is clear: We are failing our children, our neighbors, our workers and our employers. We’re creating insurmountable barriers that will further hamper the future strength of our county and well-being of future generations.

Ensuring everyone has access to safe, affordable housing reflects our values and it makes good business sense. Marin County has long been a place of opportunity and innovation.

We can continue to lead by addressing our affordable housing crisis. Our actions today can pave the way for a strong and bright future for Marin and demonstrate that economic prosperity and social justice go hand in hand.”

Minimum Wage Survey

The Marin County Board of Supervisors may consider an ordinance that would enact an $18/hour minimum wage that, if passed, would go into effect January 1, 2025, and would only apply to employers doing business in unincorporated areas of the county.

If passed, the County ordinance would not affect businesses operating solely within Marin’s 11 incorporated cities and towns or other governmental agencies.

To inform the discussion, the County is asking employers and employees throughout the county to fill out this short survey on what employers are currently paying hourly staff.

The survey, in English and Spanish and due by June 21, can be found HERE

May – Affordable Housing Month

May has been declared Affordable Housing Month. There is even a website where it is stated that this month is, “our time to imagine the Bay Area we know is possible when we invest in affordable housing solutions and everyone has a safe place to call home. Where children can stay in the communities in which they were raised, and workers can afford to live in the city where they work.” State legislators got the memo too, because there are over 50 pro-housing bills in front of the legislature this year. CA YIMBY tracks and analyses them here.

At NBLC we have identified creating more workforce housing and affordable housing in the North Bay as a top priority. A new report released May 8th by Enterprise Community Partners and Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) analyzes affordable housing projects in various stages of predevelopment and identifies solutions for moving them toward completion.

From a Bay Link Blog we discover that “ the updated research reveals there are now 433 projects in various stages of predevelopment that would create more than 40,896 affordable homes across the nine-county Bay Area. These would account for nearly a quarter of the 180,000 affordable homes the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Plan determined are needed in the Bay Area by 2031.”

“Affordable housing developments typically are supported by a capital “stack” investment that includes a commercial mortgage; Low-Income Housing Tax Credits; tax-exempt bonds; and additional local, regional and state dollars that fill the gap between the cost of the development and the financing secured through debt and equity. The new report calculates that the hundreds of Bay Area projects now in the predevelopment pipeline need $9.7 billion in public funds to move forward, and that a $20 billion regional bond measure proposed for the ballot in Bay Area counties this fall would help close this gap.”

“The predevelopment pipeline includes projects in all nine Bay Area counties. These include more than 10,000 units in both Alameda and Santa Clara counties, with another 8,400 affordable homes pending development in San Francisco and more than 3,000 units in both San Mateo and Sonoma counties. “

“Project pipelines in other Bay Area counties range from over 300 affordable homes in Solano County to 1,173 units in Marin County; nearly 1,500 homes in Napa County; and over 2,500 units in Contra Costa County. Each Bay Area city, town or county currently is working on its own to meet the challenges of housing affordability and homelessness.”

According to a recent article in the SF Chronicle, “The bond would be funded by property taxes, with an estimated tax of $19 per $100,000 of assessed value —about $190 per year for a home assessed at $1 million. The amount of money each city receives from the bond would be based on how much that jurisdiction pays in taxes: For example, San Francisco would get about $2.4  billion to invest, while Sonoma County would receive about $806 million and San Mateo County would get $1.05 billion.”

Final ballot language and the final cost of the bond will be published in late June. With the slim passage of Prop 1, skeptical voters will need to be convinced that another tax is going to actually build units.

NBLC Supports Our Kids Our Future

North Bay employers of all sizes and industry sectors are feeling the burden of the child care crisis and want more quality, affordable child care for their workforce. Our Kids Our Future website reports that child care and preschool are unaffordable for most working parents and supply in Sonoma County is scarce, especially for infants and toddlers. The Sonoma County Child Care and Children’s Health Initiative will raise approximately $30 million annually, revenue that will address a set of critical priorities identified by our community. If passed in November, funds from the sales tax measure will develop more facilities where parents live and work, increase the number of slots available and pay a decent wage for child care and early education providers.

Overall, quality, affordable child care is not just beneficial to employees but also to employers, as it contributes to a more satisfied, productive, and loyal workforce. When employees have access to reliable child care, they are less likely to miss work due to child care issues. This leads to higher attendance rates and increased productivity. But it’s not just about productivity, it’s more about everyone’s well-being. As a working parent myself, when my children were younger just knowing that they were well cared for while I was working, allowed me to focus on my job and not worry. Access to affordable child care can help level the playing field for working parents too, particularly mothers. When both parents have access to reliable child care, it reduces the burden on one parent (often mothers) to stay home and care for children, allowing them to participate more fully in the workforce.

NBLC Supports this initiative on the November 5th ballot in Sonoma County and recommends that you do too. To find out more, please visit their website here- Our Kids Our Future.

How the Lack of Affordable Child Care is Impacting Businesses

North Bay Leadership Council actively supports quality early child education and care programs as part of its work plan for 2024.  Our member employers are reporting that they and their employees are finding it more and more difficult to find quality, affordable child care in the North Bay, especially infant care. A survey of child care costs released in early 2024 found that on average, families were spending about 24% of their household income on child care, with 60% spending 20% or more. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department defines affordable child care as no more than 7% of household income.

Lack of child care can hinder a business’s ability to grow. This is especially true for small businesses as reported by Andy Medici, San Francisco Business Times, BizWomen.

Medici notes a new “survey of small-business owners who are parents or have employees who are parents by the Small Business Majority found 59% said lack of access to affordable child care is hindering their business growth. About 59% said their child care issues forced them to take substantial time away from their business, while 58% agreed that lack of affordable child care made it harder to start their business in the first place. While child care access is outside of the direct control of most small businesses, the survey made it clear it’s weighing on their fortunes and their workers”.

He shares with us that “John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, said 4 out of 10 small-business owners say they have lost out on business opportunities because of challenges with child care. “Our research shows that child care is essential to the small business ecosystem and is a key factor in entrepreneurial growth,” Arensmeyer said.

The survey also found:

  • Small-business owners saw their businesses suffer because of a lack of child care, with 56% saying a lack of child care forced them to take substantial time away from their business, and 39% said it caused them to lose out on business opportunities. About 26% said it forced them to shut down their business and rejoin the workforce.
  • About 51% of small businesses said they’ve experienced lower productivity and 44% said they have been unable to operate longer hours when their employees face child care issues. About 31% reported lost earnings and 28% said they had to hire temporary workers to fill in child care gaps.
  • Nearly three-quarters of entrepreneurs say that their employees adjust their work schedules due to child care issues at least a few times a month.
  • About 62% of small-business owners experienced unplanned employee work absences and 30% said they had an employee quit — or have 27% turn down a promotion — due to child care issues. About 30% said they had a job candidate turn down an offer due to child care issues.

“As we’ve noted, child care businesses themselves are struggling due to the end of support from Covid-19 relief programs, demographic shifts and child care challenges for their own employees.

Janna Rodriguez, owner and founder of The Innovative Daycare Corp in Freeport, N.Y., said investments in child care are critical to removing barriers for economic growth.”

“Small child care businesses like mine rely on a small workforce to thrive,” she said. “But that workforce also desperately needs reliable, affordable child care themselves, and they may seek other employment or leave the workforce entirely if they can’t access affordable care.”

Medici continues, “the survey comes as the Small Business Majority and other advocacy groups push congress to pass the Child Care Stabilization Program, which would provide funds for child care centers and enact other measures to keep daycares from closing and encourage the opening of others. The previous $24 billion Child Care Stabilization Program passed during the pandemic provided funds to keep child care options open — but that expired at the end of September 2023, creating what experts had warned was a child-care cliff. “

A separate survey by Motherly found that about 18% of mothers changed jobs or left the workforce in the last year — with 52% of Gen Z and Millennial mothers say the reason why was lack of affordable child care. But it’s not just risk of closures that is plaguing the child care industry, it’s that rising costs would require remaining providers to raise rates to levels even less affordable for families.”

Recent data from Bank of America shows that’s the case so far. Households with child care payments saw that those payments were 32% higher in January 2024 than the 2019 average. Even as big increases in the Consumer Price Index and overall inflation have dropped from their 2022 peaks, day care and preschool costs are now outpacing inflation as a whole, Bank of America said.”

“Meanwhile, as higher-income households are making these bigger payments, Bank of America data shows low-income household child care payments are disappearing altogether, signs that they are no longer able to afford professional options.”

“About 79% of parents expect to be impacted in 2024 by the end of the stabilization funding for child care centers, and 54% are preparing to spend $600 per month or more on child care — with 40% saying they are already spending more.”

Please Sign The Petition to Get The Richmond Bridge Moving

NBLC has been working for months as part of the Common Sense Transportation Coalition advocating for the reopening of the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Thanks to many voices and critical support, the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) has agreed to consider a new proposal for the bike lane on the upper deck of the bridge!

On May 8, the BATA (Bay Area Transit Authority) committee will meet with the MTC to discuss a proposal for the bike lane on the westbound portion of the bridge to be closed Mondays to Thursdays.

Please sign the petition above and send to your employees!!

We think this is a strong start, but it is NOT a guaranteed plan.

The MTC faces fierce opposition from several Bay Area bike coalitions regarding this proposal. We must show the commissioners we stand with them on this COMMON SENSE solution! 

We live and work in the affected communities. We know the stop-and-go traffic nightmare. We experience the stressors of the increasing commute times, and must stand up for disadvantaged workers with no other commute option.

Act now and sign the petition. Simply add your name and address and we will send it to the right lawmaker. Your message goes directly to these decision markers and has the power to create positive change for everyone.

You can even record a video message and make an even greater impact by sharing your personal story! Be sure to introduce yourself and explain why you support our efforts to get the Richmond Bridge moving for East Bay commuters. Click the SIGN THE PETITION block above.

In partnership with the
Common Sense Transportation Coalition

7 Things You Should Know About the New Federal Reporting Requirement

Written in an article by Gene Marks, “If you own a business, get ready. There’s a new federal reporting requirement for business owners, and you don’t want to ignore it. If you do, the penalties are high.

Here are seven key things to know.

What is the new requirement?

Effective Jan. 1, more than 32 million business owners need to complete a special form called the Beneficial Ownership Information Report. You’ll need to file it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The form is required as part of the 2021 Corporate Transparency Act. This act aims to reduce money laundering and the concealment of illicit funds by targeting shell companies and many other entities.

Who needs to file the Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

Entities including corporations, pass-throughs, partnerships, estate and benefit plans, and foreign companies registered to do business in any U.S. state or Indian tribe will have to share information about their beneficial owners. Sole proprietorships are not included.

Beneficial owners are generally shareholders who own at least 25% of an entity, which may include:

  • Profit interests
  • Options
  • Warrants
  • Other instruments like convertible notes

Besides shareholders, beneficial owners also include people that exercise substantial control over an entity. This means senior officers, including:

  • President
  • Chief financial officer
  • General counsel
  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operating officer

Any other officer who performs a similar function to those listed above may be required to file a report. This includes anyone with the authority to appoint or remove officers or a majority of directors of the reporting company. It could also include an important decision-maker for the reporting company, or any other individual with substantial control.

It’s important to note that there may be more than one beneficial owner of a company. Filings also need to be updated when a beneficial owner has a change of address or marital status or obtains a new driver’s license. There’s no fee to file this report.

There are 23 types of businesses that are exempted from this rule. They include:

  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Tax exempt entities
  • Large operating companies (generally companies with more than 20 U.S.-based employees and revenues over $5 million)

Many of these entities are exempt because they’re providing similar information via other means. Review the full list in the FinCEN’s Small Entity Compliance Guide.

What information is required?

The information you need should be easy to obtain. It includes your company’s legal and trade names, or your “doing business as” name, and street address (post office boxes are not allowed). You’ll also need to include the state where your company was formed along with relevant tax and employer identification numbers.

In addition, you’ll need to provide an image of your articles of incorporation. If you can’t find this, you can likely obtain it from your state.

Each beneficial owner will need to provide their full legal name, birthdate, and home address (again, post office boxes are not allowed). They’ll also need to provide an image of either an unexpired passport, driver’s license, or document issued by a state, local government, or Indian tribe.

What’s the due date and where do I report?

Filings for existing companies must be completed by Jan. 1, 2025. For new entities created after Jan. 1, 2024, reports are required within 90 days. You can file your reports electronically on FinCEN’s website, where you will get an electronic receipt.

How secure is my information?

Under the Corporate Transparency Act, FinCEN is allowed to permit federal, state, local, and tribal officials, as well as certain foreign officials who submit a request through a U.S. federal government agency, to obtain beneficial ownership information for authorized activities related to national security, intelligence, and law enforcement.

Financial institutions will also have access to beneficial ownership information in certain circumstances, with the consent of the reporting company.

Otherwise, FinCEN will store information in a secure, non-public database. FinCEN uses the same information security methods and controls that are typically used in the Federal government to protect non-classified but sensitive information systems.

What happens if I don’t comply?

The penalties are steep. You could incur fees up to $500 a day, up to $10,000, and up to two years in jail (per occurrence) if you intentionally provide incorrect information.

Where can I find more information?

I strongly recommend working with an experienced certified public accountant, attorney or business advisor to complete this report. It’s also important to ignore the inevitable solicitations you’ll receive from firms that claim to be experts in this area. Seek out a professional you know, or ask for a referral.”

Tech is Advancing Women’s Careers in Construction

There is one industry sector that is swinging a virtual hammer to break down the norm. In  Women near pay equity in ‘dynamic industry with endless opportunities’  by Anne Stych, Bizwomen editor, we learn that “The construction industry is one where women are almost on equal footing salary-wise, earning 95.5% of what men do, according to the industry group the National Association of Women in Construction”, says Stych.

“Nearly 1.2 million women work in construction in the United States, making up about 10 percent of the industry’s workers. But working in construction means much more than swinging a hammer,” says Danielle O’Connell, senior director of the Emerging Technology Team for Skanska USA, as technology continues to play an increasing role.

“More women should consider this exciting and dynamic industry with endless opportunities,” she said.

Anna Moll, business development manager for Skanska USA’s Civil division in New England, seconds that emotion. “She says it’s a career that guarantees no boredom because it’s fast-paced, providing opportunities for continuous learning and exposure to innovative concepts and developing technologies.” Moll said, “the construction industry encourages outside-the-box thinking and that new ideas are always welcome.”

“Construction tech is an exciting place to be,” she said. “We have seen so much new and competitive tech hit the market since 2020.”

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly increasing and transforming business and industries across the globe. “Data analytics, AI, and robotics are three examples of tools that have helped automate workflows, reducing the burden on field personnel, driving better decision-making, and ultimately improving safety, quality, and efficiency,” she said. “Construction is historically slow to change, but tech can transform the way we are doing business by providing opportunities to drive certainty for our clients and projects,” she said.

For our part, North Bay Leadership Council has joined a diverse coalition of advocates urging the Governor’s office to safeguard resources to California’s education and workforce training programs in the proposed 2024-2025 budget. This includes rejecting cuts to the Women in Construction Unit, as well as rejecting funding delay to the California Jobs First program, and rejecting cuts to High Road Training Partnerships amongst others.  The High Road Training Partnerships program enhances workforce training partnerships that prioritize workers, industry leadership, and emphasize equity, job quality and sustainability. The California Jobs First program is an inter-agency partnership to support new strategies to diversity local economies and develop industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all Californians in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. And the Women in Construction Unit supports women in the trades as they balance work, education, and family obligations.

Bay Area Housing for All – Hope for Improving the North Bay Housing Crisis

It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis in California that’s also particularly severe in the North Bay. And while efforts have been made since the Great Recession in 2008 to get more housing built, the programs and funding haven’t been able to meet our need for more housing. If you compare California to states like Texas and Florida, we are falling way behind in housing production. Every employer we speak to names recruiting and retaining staff as a top issue they face. Roadblocks seem to exist to prevent a sustainable, vibrant, and diverse North Bay.

In How do you solve the California housing crisis? California Association of Realtors looks at the American Dream in the Golden State  by Sarah Wheeler, we learn that in California, “… the largest state by population, one out of every eight Americans lives in the Golden State, but the homeownership rate is dismal. According to Ben Metcalf, managing director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, the homeownership rate for California is 50 percentage points lower than the rest of the nation at only 44% in 2021. That represents a serious downtrend from a 50% homeownership rate in 2000,” says Wheeler.

Why?  Wheeler says, “Notoriously high home prices are to blame, with monthly payments for a typical California home sitting at more than $5,500. The Terner Center has shown that about half of the homeownership gap is directly attributable to the affordability crisis, which in turn is a direct consequence of a housing supply shortage. ‘We’ve made it difficult to build new housing,’ Metcalf said, citing environmental regulations, building codes, local control and the opposition to building infill multifamily housing.”

Robert Kleinhenz, director of the Office of Economic Research at California State University, “noted that the state has been woefully undersupplied for years. In 2000, the California Association of Realtors estimated that the state would need about 250,000 new units a year to keep up with demand. But Kleinhenz said the state has never gotten close to that number, so it’s now 2 to 2.5 million units behind. ‘The increase in home prices is due to increasing demand versus supply — we have to build more,’ Kleinhenz said. ‘How many housing units are we building? For the last 10 years, building permit numbers never surpassed 120,000 units.’”

Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic, pointed out “that in 2023 the entire state of California issued only 70,000 permits for single-family homes — about the same number as the Houston metro area. ‘California [has been] the most inventory-constrained market for years.’ As a result, the housing gap is creating a labor force gap as well. ‘Think about year over year the numbers of people leaving California.’ Hepp said. ‘We need to shift the conversation to: How do we ensure kids can stay here and have the same opportunity as we did?’”

How to incentivize the production of housing has been THE question for decades. Wheeler said, “Metcalf said there have been 140 distinct pieces of legislation on housing affordability since 2016, but those laws haven’t made much impact in the permitting numbers. The passage of SB 9 in 2021 outlawed single-family zoning, and there have been numerous attempts to expand the ability to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to increase density.”

“Ministerial approval — a streamlined permit process that doesn’t require public hearings or sign-off by local officials — took effect in California in 2018 and has the potential to move housing forward. But even with all of these laws, costs and local regulations are still limiting factors for development.”

What more is needed?  Some think the modernization of the California Environmental Quality Act is key, others see better zoning, including the reuse of commercial buildings now vacant because of more remote working, and government funded low-interest loans.  But one new effort to build more housing is coming: a ballot measure for a Regional Housing Bond to fund construction of affordable housing.

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) – the first regional housing finance authority in the state – wants to place a $10-$20 billion affordable housing bond measure on the November 2024 ballot to benefit the nine-county Bay Area. This money would be used to build affordable homes and help keep existing housing affordable in every county.

A $20 billion bond could create 80,000 new affordable homes — over two times more than what would be possible without a bond.

80% of the bond revenue will go directly to the nine counties and four cities—San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Napa—letting local governments determine how best to produce and preserve affordable housing for their own communities.

BAHFA will invest 20% of the bond revenue in affordable homes throughout the region, while also generating new housing resources to support affordable housing development long after the bonds are fully spent.

Through the measure, each of the nine Bay Area counties and the four cities will adopt their own expenditure plan for how they propose to spend the money. BAHFA will review each plan and confirm that it meets basic criteria.

The majority of funds (at least 52%) must be used to produce new housing, and most of that new housing should be affordable to low- and extremely low-income residents.

NBLC is monitoring the bond development and working with other business-oriented groups to ensure that the money from the bond achieves its purpose of spurring new housing construction.  One area of focus is to have bond money help cover the costs of inclusionary zoning units in market rate projects.  Inclusionary zoning has proven to be a deterrent in new housing construction and having those costs covered could produce more housing that otherwise could not be built.