The City of Antioch together with the Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition (MFAC) and Hope Solutions (formerly known as Contra Costa Interfaith Housing) has been awarded one of only eleven Partnerships for the Bay’s Future “Breakthrough Grants” in the amount of $500,000 to develop and implement housing policies that promote equity-focused affordable housing production and preservation in Antioch. Through this initiative, we plan to address and correct several barriers to housing preservation and production including leveraging unused faith owned land to build affordable housing in the form of “micro homes”, reforming zoning ordinances, building a sliding scale model for local housing production fees and encouraging the building of ADUs. All of these goals will be approached in such a manner that amplifies the voices of low-income persons, disenfranchised individuals, and minority ethnic and racial groups.
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- A number of faith institutions are exploring ways of leveraging unused land to provide affordable housing paired with critical supportive services. According to a May 2020 Policy Brief by the Terner Center of Berkeley 2020 there are “approximately 38,800 acres of land (in California) – roughly the size of the city of Stockton – (which) are used for religious purposes and potentially developable.” Further, land acquisition represents 20-25% of a building project cost. Having the land donated relieves an enormous financial burden for developing housing and the community.
- Faith communities together with MFAC and Hope Solutions are exploring new and innovative solutions such as micro homes or “tiny homes” because they are cost efficient and quickly assembled while being permanent, comfortable, and private. These homes can be built in 1/5 of the time and cost. They are built on foundations and meet the state of California’s HCD (Housing and Community Development) standards and include indoor bathrooms, kitchens, electricity and HVAC systems.
- At least 1 microhome project on faith owned land
- In Antioch, we must change certain regulations to ensure that low-income community members see the benefits of new construction. Specifically, corporate landlords in low-income areas of the city are installing alternative dwelling units (ADUs) at a rapid pace. While the City welcomes the addition of new housing units and freely gives construction permits for these projects, low-income and senior homeowners simply cannot afford the permits and construction fees necessary to invest in their properties with the addition of an ADU.
- We plan to solicit community input and study the relevant variables to establish separate rules for owner-occupied ADU permits and fees to make the addition of an ADU a realistic possibility for local homeowners. These ADUs can be especially important to low-income seniors, as they provide a steady stream of income for people who live in expensive homes but with fixed incomes, enabling them to age in place with dignity.
- The City of Antioch is in the process of updating its general plan and is exploring Zoning Ordinance reform to facilitate the production and preservation of housing. For example, each time a faith-based institution wants to build small scale housing units, they must apply for a special permit from the City. We are seeking to streamline and improve this process for faith institutions.
- New legislation to support efforts to build affordable housing are today misunderstood and open to a wide range of interpretations. Through the breakthrough grant, we will build consensus and develop a shared interpretation of the legislation to streamline the affordable housing process.
- To facilitate new affordable housing construction, Antioch needs a more flexible Zoning Ordinance that includes exceptions for new critical developments, like low-income affordable housing and emergency shelters. The City of Antioch plans to offer such guidance and flexibility in its new Housing Element, and the Breakthrough Grant will help facilitate community input that is necessary to the policy development process.
- Another barrier to the production of new affordable and supportive housing is the legacy of previous California housing policies that envisioned large single-family homes as the primary housing option for developers, resulting in housing production fees based on the number of units added to the housing supply. While these fees may be affordable when a developer is building large, expensive single-family residences, the multiple compounding “per-door” fees become exorbitant when attempting to construct many smaller, more affordable units.
- The City would like for its new Housing Element to include provisions for waiving or converting to a sliding scale local housing production fees to enable more robust construction of smaller units.
- We would like to include a fund in the City’s budget that would help offset any regional or statewide housing production fees for certain affordable housing developments. The Breakthrough Grant will give Antioch the resources and tools it needs to establish these new housing production fee waivers and payment provisions in ways that advance our goals and facilitate small footprint housing construction.
- The REP Program empowers affordable housing residents to advocate for the creation and retention of affordable housing and supportive services by helping leaders develop the advocacy, public speaking and leadership skills needed to speak truth to power.
- REPs will help to drive the community organizing efforts to amplify the voices of low-income persons, disenfranchised individuals, and minority ethnic and racial groups as well as residents with lived experience of homelessness.
- To date, REPs have helped to shape the policy landscape through active participation in local cities’ efforts to update the Housing Elements of their General Plans. They participated in Antioch community meetings, speaking in favor of plans that streamline zoning and permitting processes and remove barriers for housing development on faith institution land. In addition, the REP team has also been supporting key state legislation, long-term planning and funding that would support housing and homeless services.
- The faith community as well as local community-based organizations will serve as critical partners and a critical channel for grassroots organizing that will include focus groups, small group community conversations, and surveys.
- Such initiatives are particularly pertinent to faith institutions as they are critically aligned with their missions. Many faith institutions already support vulnerable populations through direct service, so the Breakthrough Grant serves to better facilitate and ease the complications of serving the community.
- A crucial aim of the project is to ensure that persons with lived experience are embedded in every step of the community organizing and policy development process.
- The learning and input from this organizing work will ultimately lead to the development, advocacy, and adoption of new policies, and systems changes that promote and facilitate the preservation and production of affordable housing.
- As such, we are seeking more members to join our Resident Empowerment Program, and we would love to hear stories and experiences from community members. If you are interested in sharing your story or becoming involved, you can contact Jasmine Tarkoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-765-0832.
- The City of Antioch prides itself on the diversity of its communities, and we plan to integrate the intersectional perspectives of affected community members with the knowledge of subject matter experts. Furthermore, we also understand that for policies to be equitable, they must address past injustices, currently existing needs, and future consequences of new policies.
- The City of Antioch chose to partner with MFAC specifically because of its commitment to equity, diversity, and justice. MFAC includes a growing cohort of more than 50 active, diverse faith institutions, with new growth especially significant in east county.
- To address social, racial, and economic equity, Antioch plans to conduct a community needs assessment to identify specific neighborhoods that have suffered from the legacy of previous and current housing policies. We expect that these neighborhoods will be disproportionately populated by low-income persons, disenfranchised individuals, and minority ethnic and racial groups, and will therefore receive specific emphasis during the development of new housing policies.
- The Environmental Justice Element of the General Plan sets limits on development plans that risk harming the environment and, by extension, human health. We therefore will ensure that low-income persons are not placing their air or water quality at risk by moving into a newly constructed development.
We will use this grant to achieve our goals through a combination of housing development, policy and regulatory work, community organizing, and leadership development.
- In terms of housing development, we will develop a list of faith communities that are open to building housing and an approved designed and partnership plan with lead FI. This will allow us to have at least 1 microhome project in partnership with a Faith Community by 6/30/24 and build 1 ADU with a low-income home-owner.
- Policy and regulatory work will consist of doing a needs analysis for housing development and planning for equitable distribution of affordable housing so that we can identify policy proposals to fast-track housing development with Faith Institutions.
- Community organizing includes contacting key partners to gather insight, assessing which key partners are most aligned to support our work, and developing a communications strategy for those partners. The ultimate goal is to have at least 10 faith or community-based organizations that support our policy and development goals.
- The last focus, leadership development, means developing an outreach plan for new REPs, developing a training model and providing public speaking training for both REPs and all other community partners. We will recruit and train at least 5 new REP leaders from Antioch.
Members to date of the Steering Committee include: Forrest Ebbs, City of Antioch; Teri House, City of Antioch; Deanne Pearn, Hope Solutions; Jasmine Tarkoff, MFAC and Hope Solutions; and the to be announced leader of the Hope Solutions REP team.
We invite you to join us in our efforts to ensure that the resulting housing policies respond to the needs of the community and address the housing affordability crisis. Please direct questions and concerns to Jasmine Tarkoff at email@example.com or 925-765-0832.