The new office would focus on “developing new approaches for increasing and diversifying the supply of housing and for meeting the challenges of housing shortages, housing affordability, and traffic congestion, and for other purposes.”
Under the bill, the Office of Housing Innovation would administer three types of grants:
one to localities committed to addressing affordable housing issues through planning and regulatory reform,
another to further pilot projects and research on innovative solutions to addressing the lack of affordable housing, and
a third for public awareness and outreach.
The largest grant program, capped at $2 million per grantee, would support efforts to address the housing needs of eligible localities through planning and regulatory reform efforts.
These reform efforts would aim to increase the supply of affordable housing, improve the affordability of the existing housing supply and commute times, and diversify the housing supply to include “more multifamily housing options or newer and less common forms of housing, such as multifamily housing focused on smaller private spaces and more shared amenities, micro-unit housing, housing developments that incorporate co-working spaces, and housing for students.”
The competitive grants would be evaluated on the extent to which localities justify the need for a comprehensive planning process to address affordable housing needs of the locality, demonstrate an intent to collaborate with regional planning efforts, and detail the specific steps the locality intends to take if awarded the grant.
“America is on the verge of a major housing crisis, especially in high-cost regions like the Bay Area. Working families in communities across the country have few affordable housing options within a reasonable distance to their workplace. The tradeoff becomes traveling great lengths to their jobs and spending hours stuck in traffic rather than with their families,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges. This bill helps communities explore much-needed innovative housing solutions like expanding common amenities for a younger workforce, building accessory dwelling units—like basement apartments or converting garages into housing—and adapting one or several buildings into multiple housing units.”
Since 1960, renters’ median earnings have increased only 5 percent while rents have spiked 61 percent.
At the same time, homeowners earn 50 percent more than in 1960, but home prices have skyrocketed by 112 percent.
In New Jersey, 73% of extremely low-income renter households are severely cost burdened.
Under this bill, the new Office of Housing Innovation will administer three types of grants:
Developing Local Housing Plans: For local housing plans that expand and diversify the housing supply, improve affordability, and reduce congestion.
Furthering Research and Pilot Projects: For research and pilot projects led by partnerships involving at least one government, university, or nonprofit organization to explore improving the “first mile” and “last mile” commuting experience, housing college students, facilitating home sharing for elderly residents, integrating business and commercial activity with residential neighborhoods, and studying modular building techniques or other approaches to reducing housing costs.
Improving Public Discussion: Grants for education activities to fund partnerships with at least one academic institution to further public discussion and education on housing and community development.