REDEVELOPMENT AGENCIES DISSOLVED: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We are at a defining moment at Mercy Housing and for the people that we serve. It’s hard to imagine a period in recent history that has put as much stress on the most vulnerable in our communities as the last few years. While these trends seem to exist in nearly every state, California is sadly at the head of the pack in all too many ways. On top of record unemployment and housing instability is a gruesome list of cuts to education, child care, adult day health centers and other critical services that make life manageable for low-income families, seniors and individuals.
Compounding these very personal pressures is the terrifying sense that our broader society is prepared to permanently unwind a significant amount of the public support for one of the most critical tools we have for combating poverty – affordable housing.
Just before the New Year, the California Supreme Court upheld legislation which eliminated all of the redevelopment agencies in the state on February 1, 2012. Until the ruling, redevelopment agencies have been required to spend 20 percent of their revenue on the creation and preservation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income households. These agencies provided nearly id="mce_marker" billion per year for affordable housing-money that has been critical to our work in nearly every community in California that we serve.
With this backdrop, you can imagine how motivated we are at Mercy Housing California to address this issue. Our staff and partners are working furiously to ensure that the developments in progress will be able to hold on to their funding commitments. We have every reason to believe that these short-term efforts will be successful, but the long-term implications of this funding cut are a serious threat to our mission.
With so much at stake, your support could not be more important than it is right now. Because of your generosity and commitment to our work, new homes are being built and our Resident Services continue to have a positive impact in the lives of our residents and the surrounding communities. Ironically, our development pipeline has never been busier – seven developments are ready to begin construction in 2012 and will eventually provide 440 new homes.
Because we have such a busy development pipeline, Mercy Housing California may not feel the worst impacts of the redevelopment housing cuts for a few years. While this is good news for now, I believe everyone at Mercy Housing California is aware of how present the danger to our work really is. We are engaged on a nearly daily basis with other developers and statewide advocacy organizations to educate the Governor’s office and Legislature about the impact of these cuts and potential solutions.
We have to believe that we will get there, but it’s hard to predict when this will be possible and how much we as a society are prepared in invest in this work. We look forward to your support as we collectively commit ourselves to the next step in this struggle.
President, Mercy Housing California