News from EPACANDO
Blog-style announcements from the working group
The City of East Palo Alto’s plan to build 500 new affordable units in 5 years got a big boost from a grant of $20 million by the Strategic Growth Council (a state agency). On July 23, Channel 5 KPIX evening news ran a feature on the projects which the grant supports, and those involved:
EPACANDO has an important role as liason between the City and the various non-profits who will build and/or renovate the affordable housing, as well as in the initial grant application. The announcement and more grant details are also in Palo Alto Online:
A new wrinkle for a housing grant is the money for improved Transit Connections: electric buses will provide a non-polluting Express route from East Palo Alto to San Bruno.
“It’s part of what we [EPACANDO] want to do. It’s part of responsibility to our community. Nor do we want to be the exclusive carriers of the vast need for housing that’s affordable to working families”
– Duane Bay, Executive Director of EPACANDO
Watch this space! We will announce any available unit here!
BMR (Below Market Rate) Program
More than 100 East Palo Alto families own “BMR homes,” made possible by the City’s BMR program which for decades has required developers of new for-sale housing to sell some of them at more affordable prices, and which then keeps those homes affordable over time by restricting their resale price. The program is sometimes called the “Ownership BMR Program” because the City’s program also includes many BMR apartments for rent.
Purchase Opportunities As new BMR homes are built or as current BMR homeowners move out, BMR homes come up for sale. When this happens, EPACANDO conducts an outreach and selection process on behalf of the City. Because demand is always high and supply is always low, a lottery is necessary. Lottery procedures are being reviewed currently, and will be updated soon.
Current Services for BMR Homeowners:Assuring the soundness of the community’s “portfolio” of BMR homes for current and future residents is in everyone’s best interest. So annually, EPACANDO reaches out to all BMR homeowners to assure compliance with the program’s very basic rules about remodeling, refinancing and renting-out.
During 2019 EPACANDO will also begin an email newsletter and annual workshops for current BMR homeowners to address perennial questions: What if our household size grows or shrinks? What if we need to install accommodations for disabled family members? Can we rent out a room? How can we support the creation of more BMR homes in East Palo Alto?
In 2003, EPACANDO received a contract from the City of EastPalo Alto to administer the City’s “below-market-rate homeownership” program. For many years the City required developers of for-sale housing to set aside a substantial number (typically 20%) of the new homes for purchase by qualified low-income buyers.
EPACANDO helped buyers obtain the homes, then monitored the homebuyers for compliance with restrictions on refinancing, resale and subletting.
Later, as production of new for-sale homes in the city slowed—and therefore production of new BMR homes slowed—the City decided to operate the program using City staff. However, beginning in 2019, EPACANDO will once again be under contract to provide this service for the City.
EPACANDO works closely with City staff. EPACANDO is also partnering with the Bay Area Affordable Homeownership Alliance (BAAHA), an experienced BMR program administrator serving five Bay Area cities and coordinating several hundred BMR refinances, sales and purchases each year.