In October, the State Treasurer’s Office allocated a $1.8 billion bonding authority and $88.2 million in federal tax credits to help speed up the production of 6,442 units of affordable housing statewide.
The city of Berkeley requested $37,335,000 that would be allocated toward BRIDGE Housing’s Berkeley Way Project. The city also asked for $19 million for the Hope Center, a permanent supportive housing project by Berkeley Food and Housing Project.
“This allocation provides the critical, final amount necessary to complete a visionary and groundbreaking housing project that would be affordable to those making less than 30% of the area median income – and specifically targeted to the part of the population emerging out of homelessness,” said Igor Tregub, vice chair of the Measure O Oversight Committee, in an email.
The project will be collocated with state-of-the-art shelter spaces and will be located in the middle of one of the most transit-rich areas in Berkeley. It will also provide supportive services.
With its great weather and lucrative job opportunities, California has many popular cities to settle in. The influx of people moving into California, however, has caused a greater demand for affordable housing.
“High costs are predominantly a barrier to lower income residents,” said California state treasurer, Fiona Ma in her November newsletter. “If costs continue to rise they will start to erode the purchasing power of the state’s higher income residents.”
In the last couple of years, California has been struck with a severe lack of affordable housing.
The supply and demand gap has increased, causing regulatory constraints on builders, which Ma said can become an issue for middle-class homeowners and renters.
“It is also weighing on the economy as it impedes the ability of workers to relocate in order to fill the rising record number of open jobs,” Ma said in the newsletter.
Berkeley has made several strides toward affordable housing, including the Berkeley Way Project that would include 89 units for people between 50-60% of the Area Median Income, as well as 53 units of permanent, supportive housing for homeless and disabled people.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Berkeley Way Project will also give temporary housing to 32 homeless men and transitional housing to 12 male veterans without homes, according to Stefan Elgstrand, spokesperson for Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s office.
“The total cost of this project is $110 million. The City of Berkeley has committed approximately $26 million towards the project. … Funding from the City is matched with various other sources, including Measure A1 (Alameda County’s affordable housing bond), State programs such as No Place Like Home (NPLH) and Affordable Housing (and) Sustainable Communities (AHSC), as well as tax credit equity,” Elgstrand said in an email.
The allocation on behalf of the State Treasurer’s Office will help to ensure the project can move forward, according to Elgstrand. He added that construction will be completed by early 2022.
When it comes to the housing crisis facing Berkeley and California, the efforts being put in by the State Department are dramatically helping to alleviate rising tension, according to Tregub.
“While there is so much more that remains to be done in tackling the worst housing affordability and homelessness crisis in Berkeley’s history, this is a crucial step forward towards a Berkeley we can all call home,” Tregub said in an email.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Igor Tregub is the vice chair of Berkeley’s Housing Advisory Commission. In fact, he is the vice chair of the Measure O Oversight Committee.