AHSC Program

Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program

Cap-and-Trade Investments in Affordable Housing 

San Diego Traffic CongestionThe Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program was created in 2014 to invest revenues generated by California’s Cap and Trade auction proceeds to the creation of affordable homes in proximity to jobs and transit as a part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy.

Cap and Trade is a program administered by California’s Strategic Growth Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Learn more about California’s Cap-and-Trade affordable housing program.

You can also learn more about the program by checking out:

Below, review SDHF’s archive of updates on the progress of the Affordable Housing and Communities Program.


Posted: December 23, 2014

Strategic Growth Council announces preliminary changes to Cap-and-Trade AHSC program

On December 19, 2014, Strategic Growth Council (SGC) released a memo summarizing preliminary proposed revisions to the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

After extensive local consultation, the San Diego Housing Federation submitted comments on the draft guidelines.  Many SDHF members and local organizations also submitted their own letters of comment.

Thanks to considerable feedback generated locally and across the state, the SCG determined to delay the release of draft final guidelines until January 9 to allow more time to incorporate feedback.  The preliminary proposed revisions document does however reflect some of the issues that were prioritized by SDHF and our community members.  

  • Minimum unit requirements have been eliminated for housing developments in both metro and non-metro areas.
  • Public Agencies with jurisdiction over the Project Area will not be required to be co-applicants except where a Public Agency has an interest or stake in the proposed Project, in which case a contractual agreement between the developer/applicant and the public agency may be sufficient. This is a major and necessary change requested by developers and cities concerned about the infeasibility of taking on liability for the other party’s performance.
  • Simplification of the manner in which GHG reductions are measured.  The final page of the SGC memo explains that the Air Resources Board will use components of the California Emissions Estimator Model (CalEEMod), as well as other existing tools, to quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions for projects.
  • Clarification on the role of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. SGC staff will provide concept applications for the respective region to each MPO. MPOs may review concept applications and inform the SGC of their view of each project’s support of the implementation of the applicable SCS. SGC staff will also provide full applications for their respective region to MPOs for their review. All MPO recommendations are voluntary and advisory only. This is a significant change requested by many developers concerned about delays and uncertainty in obtaining the recommendation of their local agency.

See the complete memo from the SCG and all anticipated revisions here. Note the revised timeline for the AHSC Program:

  • January 9, 2015 – Public posting of draft final guidelines
  • January 20, 2015 – Final draft guidelines to council for approval
  • Late January 2015 – Funding solicitation and application released
  • Mid-February 2015 – Concept applications due
  • Mid-April 2015 – Full applications due
  • June 2015 – Recommended awards announced for council approval 

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Posted: November 12, 2014

SDHF Weighs in on Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities

On September 23, 2014 the Strategic Growth Council released the first set of draft guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. Stakeholders were asked to submit comments on the proposed guidelines by October 31st. The San Diego Housing Federation has submitted a letter containing our comments on the program guidelines based on extensive outreach to our members and the affordable housing community in San Diego.

The proposed guidelines establish two distinct pathways to obtain AHSC funding to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

  • Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Project Area: TODs are intended to integrate High-Quality Transit systems with key destinations including residential/mixed uses, with an emphasis on affordable housing development. No less than 40 percent of AHSC funds will be allocated to TODs. Maximum award: $15 million.
  • Integrated Connectivity Project (ICP): ICPs are intended to increase connectivity between land uses and improved transit access and service, within non-metropolitan areas and metropolitan areas lacking qualifying High-Quality Transit systems. Areas with transit meeting the definition of qualifying High-Quality Transit service are ineligible to apply as an ICP. No less than 30 percent of AHSC funds will be allocated to Integrated Connectivity Projects. Maximum award: $8 million.

The guidelines also addresses questions regarding: minimum affordability; prioritization of disadvantaged communities; the role of metropolitan planning organizations and scoring system; among many others. Some of the recommendations made by the San Diego Housing Federation include:

  • That every application for both the TOD and ICP pathways dedicate funding for creating and preserving homes affordable to low-income households
  • The TOD program provide more flexibility in regard to transit modes to account for lines that have frequent service and multiple lines to key destinations
  • Eliminating the 100 unit minimum for TOD projects and the 50 unit minimum for ICP projects
  • Clarification of the process timeline, especially in consideration of the time needed to establish necessary partnerships
  • Simplification of the manner in which GHG reductions is measured for the purpose of the application and scoring process

Read SDHF’s complete letter and recommendations.

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Posted: October 21, 2014

AHSC (Cap-and-Trade) Satellite San Diego Workshop

Attend a workshop on the draft guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

The Strategic Growth Council has just announced a new San Diego location via live webcast. Visit the SCG website to register for the workshop.

Monday, October 27
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
San Diego CalTrans District 11 Office

As a reminder, comments and feedback on the draft AHSC program guidelines are due to the Strategic Growth Council by October 31, 2014. This workshop will also serve as an opportunity to participate in the discussion on the development of the guidelines and hear from others. Space is limited, so be sure to register soon.

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Posted: September 30, 2014

Strategic Growth Council to hold public workshops on Cap-and-Trade funds

The Strategic Growth Council has released draft guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program funded by the state’s Cap-and-Trade revenues.  Comments and feedback on the draft AHSC program guidelines are due to the Strategic Growth Council by October 31, 2014.

A second round of public workshops has also be announced to receive feedback on the program guidelines. To SDHF’s disappointment, a workshop was not scheduled in San Diego. Workshops are being held at the following locations and dates:

  • Merced – Thursday, October 23, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Oakland – Friday, October 24, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Sacramento – Monday, October 27, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Los Angeles – Tuesday, October 28, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

These workshops filled up quickly in the past, so it is recommended to register as soon as possible if you plan to attend one of these sessions. To sign up, visit the SGC website here: http://www.sgc.ca.gov/docs/AHSC_October_Workshop_Notice.pdf.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Laura Nunn.

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Posted: August 27, 2014

SDHF Cap and Trade Listening Session

In lieu of SDHF’s Monthly Policy Committee Meeting, on September 10, SDHF, in collaboration with Housing California, and California Housing Partnership, is pleased to invite you to “Making Cap-and-Trade Work – A Feedback Session on the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program.”

Come participate in an interactive discussion of the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. This is a chance for advocates and developers of affordable homes to provide feedback and identify points of consensus around this new program. Housing Policy Advocates Julie Snyder from Housing California and Megan Kirkeby from California Housing Partnership will share emerging updates about the AHSC program. Representatives from Enterprise and LIIF will also lead a discussion where participants can share their experiences and hopes for an underwriting process that sets projects up for optimal outcomes.

When:            September 10, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where:           4305 University Avenue, Suite 640, San Diego, CA 92105

Session made possible by Enterprise Community Partners, Low Income Investment Fund and LISC San Diego.

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Posted: June 17, 2014

Victories in June for Affordable Housing

The budget conference committee approved the investment of $130 million in cap-and-trade auction proceeds in Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities, with at least half ($65 million) dedicated to affordable housing. The Strategic Growth Council will oversee the distribution of most funds, though it is likely that the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will also play a significant role.

The budget conference committee also approved a $75 million investment in Weatherization and Renewable Energy, to be overseen by the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD). Initial discussions indicate that CSD will place an equal emphasis on funding energy efficiency retrofits to low-income single-family dwellings and multifamily rental properties, with specific set-asides for investment in solar photovoltaic and solar domestic hot water systems.

The passing of the state budget with these provisions continued a month that got off to a great start with the passage of Proposition 41. The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act of 2014, which passed with strong voter support during the June 3 election, will generate $600 million to create affordable homes with supportive services for California’s Veterans especially those who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

All of this comes at a time when the need for funds for affordable homes continues to intensify. A recent report released by the California Housing Partnership Corporation and the San Diego Housing Federation reveals that the shortfall of homes affordable to low income families is 127,930 and the San Diego region has seen a decrease of 77% in financial support to build and preserve homes that are affordable to San Diegans living on modest budgets.

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Posted: April 2014

In April, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg held a press conference to release his long-term investment strategy for revenues generated by California’s Cap-and-Trade program. The program is estimated to generate between $3-5 billion/year, and Senator Steinberg’s proposal directs 20 percent of these funds to the development of affordable homes near transit.

Housing California’s Executive Director Shamus Roller spoke at the press event, saying, “This proposal is a reflection of the role that working families will play in reducing the impact of climate change in California. Families that are working hard to make ends meet are the most likely group to use public transportation and the most likely to give up their cars if given a viable alternative. This proposal also reflects the reality that how we design and build our neighborhoods has a major impact on how far we drive and how much energy we use.

Senator Steinberg’s proposal will mean that tens of thousands of families can invest in their children’s education, plan for the future. or start new businesses because they aren’t spending all of their money on rent.”

In a joint statement statement issued by Housing California and the California Housing Consortium, executive directors Shamus Roller and Ray Pearl said, “California’s . . . housing community applauds Senate President pro Tem Steinberg for prioritizing much-needed commitment to state investment in developing affordable homes that create jobs while helping our state meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through AB 32.”

These funds can serve as a critical piece of a comprehensive solution, including SB 391 that addresses the varied housing needs around the state. We look forward to working with Senator Steinberg and the legislature to make sure this proposal passes and becomes law.

Learn more about the role affordable, transit-oriented development has in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this succinct, 4-page white paper Why Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds Should Fund Affordable Homes near Transit.

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