The City of Bakersfield and ECONorthwest plan for affordable housing

May 5, 2022 /

The City of Bakersfield and ECONorthwest presented a plan for increasing affordable housing in Bakersfield and had and answered questions from the community surrounding the plan. 

Chris Blockney, Project director with ECONorthwest and Jason Cater, the Affordable Housing & Neighborhood Vitality Principal Planner from the city of Bakersfield explained SB2, a planning grant for a permanent funding mechanism for housing programs. 

“The planning grants really have a focus on housing production as a goal,” said Blockney explaining that other issues surrounding affordable housing will be included in the city’s boarder housing element plan. 

According to Blockeny the city had fallen behind the affordable housing production required by the state. He stated that the housing being built is for moderate or high income and rent is up by 43% in Bakersfield. 

The adding of affordable housing must be up to standards with the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) that states every jurisdiction has a requirement to provide housing allocation. According to the Department of Housing and Community Development Division of Housing Policy Development for the 6th Cycle Housing Elements Kern Council of Governments needs to develop a plan to distribute 57,650 housing units across the four income categories. 

To create this plan they started with getting input from developers, focus groups with the community, and a community workshop.

An affordable housing trust fund has been implemented for the city to help fund the production of affordable housing. According to Blockney the city has received a $3 million grant from the State of California for this trust fund. 

The toolkit included an affordable site inventory tool meant to show where in town could be turned into affordable housing, an accessory dwelling program to help people through the process of adding a unit to their property, a fee mitigation program, and more resources to help through the overall process of creating homes. 

The rest of the strategy includes; coalition with strong partnerships, advocacy, and program monitoring, Increasing  the supply and access to affordable housing by making housing easier to build and, support programs and fundings to incentivize and assist in affordable housing production.

When looking at where to build affordable housing the city has to take into consideration available opportunities for residents such as distance to a good school. This includes looking at the historical contexts of the areas and seeing where they have invested in one area more than another. 

After the presentation the community asked questions surrounding what resources are already available for residents and what this plan will do for people living in hard times now and undocumented residents. 

Surrounding undocuments residents; eligibility was not known for different programs mentioned and the presenters stressed that this is one reason why a coalition is needed in order to highlight these needs. 

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