IRVINE, CA – In the wake of the loss of redevelopment funding and slower economic recovery from the recession, Jamboree Housing Corporation president Laura Archuleta is enthusiastic about the outlook for her company and the future prospects for financing and developing affordable housing. Jamboree is one of California’s leading community development organizations specializing in affordable housing.
“Last year was a fabulous year for Jamboree,” said Archuleta in a new video interview posted on You Tube and sent to the nonprofit’s municipal, construction, lending and community partners. “We completed three projects in Orange County that had a huge impact on workforce housing production." (See video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6U61IfV9HA) Those three projects are Park Landing Apartment Homes in Buena Park, Birch Hills Apartment Homes in Brea, and Phase Two of Doria Apartment Homes in Irvine, which together add 259 apartment units to Orange County’s affordable housing inventory.
Archuleta pointed out that one effect of the loss of redevelopment funding is that projects built by Jamboree are now smaller in scope but there has nevertheless continued to be ongoing affordable housing development even with the reduction in financing and availability of land. “There is a lot going on in the affordable housing industry including a real push for preservation, which is a top priority for our company,” she said. “We see the acquisition and renovation of properties for which we can secure long-term affordability covenants an exciting opportunity.” Looking ahead, Archuleta said the company’s 2014 development pipeline is “robust and healthy” with about $233 million of activity in development or predevelopment. “This is the highest volume we’ve had in Jamboree’s history, which is surprising after coming off of the loss of redevelopment and the economic downturn,” she noted. “But it shows that our community partners have prioritized affordable housing and continue to spend the funds for its development.”
Cities in which Jamboree has projects in planning or early development include Buena Park, Laguna Beach, El Monte, San Dimas, Colton, Highgrove, West Sacramento and Fairfield. Archuleta pointed out that a diversity of housing that includes workforce housing helps these and other partner communities such as Brea and Claremont attract businesses while improving community health, which she stated is one of Jamboree’s primary goals going forward.
“One of the broader initiatives for our company is building healthy communities,” Archuleta said. She explained that Jamboree’s newer developments are certified sustainable with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes designations ranging from Silver to Platinum, and the company’s properties also offer health and wellness programs that further benefit residents as well as the overall community.
“We are seeing a major advancement nationally of the healthy communities movement but historically affordable housing has not been at the table,” she added. “Now we are seeing more attention paid to affordable housing by market-rate developers and private investors who recognize affordable housing as a component of healthy community development. “Of course a healthy community means walkability and sustainable construction features. It also means housing that is affordable to folks living in that community so they are not working two or three jobs, not getting enough rest, and are not able to participate in their children’s school programs. It’s this broader look at creating healthier communities on which Jamboree is focused.”
As far as funding for affordable housing is concerned, Archuleta said there are positive signs both at the state and local levels that financing could become more plentiful, although not at the same level it was when redevelopment agencies were still in place throughout California. A key piece of legislation – SB-391 – is working its way through the state Legislature. Also known as the California Homes & Jobs Act, SB-391 could generate millions of dollars in new funding for affordable housing while creating 29,000 jobs annually in California.
A more immediate source of affordable housing financing could be so-called boomerang funds, Archuleta noted. Boomerang funds are redevelopment monies that were taken away from cities by the state as a result of the redevelopment shutdown, but are now being returned to some cities’ general funds to be dedicated to affordable housing. For instance, the City of Fremont received approximately $2.7 million in boomerang funds that the city has designated for affordable housing. The City of Westminster has also received boomerang funds and Jamboree has been invited by the city housing staff to explore ways the city can create new affordable housing projects with that money. “Cities have huge affordable housing needs and it’s our mission to help them meet those needs,” Archuleta stated. “With boomerang and other potential funding sources coming back to communities to finance affordable housing, along with development sites that cities still have, we see huge opportunities ahead for Jamboree.”