MENLO PARK — The city is dealing with a housing shortage, specifically affordable housing, but it’s not for a lack of money.
In a report the city submitted to the City Council for its Dec. 15 meeting, the below-market-rate housing program at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year had $9,679,472, excluding interest. Total assets in the 28-year-old program stand at $14,157,028. Of that, $3.2 million was made available last year, which was awarded to MidPen Housing, and $7 million more was made available this year, thanks in large part to anticipated fees from Facebook and the Sobrato Organization.
The city provides an audit of the BMR program to the council each December. The program is funded by fees from developers, based on the size and type of development, who don’t find it feasible to building affordable units on their site. The audit is necessary because the city must justify the continuing need for fees which have been held for five or more years.
“Adoption of findings describing the continuing need for the funds will eliminate the need to refund fees to developers,” states a city staff report.
The majority of the city’s BMR funds, upward of $10 million, have been committed for development but not yet spent. For instance, the funds the city awarded to MidPen stay on the books until the closure of the loan.
Other recent changes to the BMR program include a softening of eligibility requirements for affordable housing developers in July, as well as switching more duties from the city’s finance and community development departments to affordable housing contractor Hello Housing.
There are currently 66 below-market-rate units in Menlo Park, as well as a waiting list of 132 households, according to the report.
Email Kevin Kelly at email@example.com or call him at 650-391-1049.