California is investing in local and regional agencies who put in the work needed to help meet the state’s housing goals.

In July 2023, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) awarded California planning organizations and communities over $352 million in grants. The grants are part of the first round of funding from the Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) 2.0 program.

The REAP 2.0 program of 2021 was enacted as part of the California Comeback Plan. The program focuses on achieving housing and climate goals, supporting infill development and promoting priced-right housing supply. REAP 2.0 furthers the state’s commitment to build neighborhoods that allow Californians to live closer to jobs, services and daily destinations.

The majority of REAP 2.0 funds will go to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). $30 million in REAP 2.0 funds will go to Higher Impact Transformative (HIT) communities that have demonstrated a commitment to transforming historically underserved communities.

The MPOs receiving REAP 2.0 funds include:

  • Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) — $9.13 million;
  • Madera County Transportation Commission (MCTC) — $2.18 million;
  • Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) — $31.83 million;
  • San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) — $38.73 million;
  • Shasta Regional Transportation Agency — $2.24 million;
  • Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) — $237.41 million; and
  • Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) — $567,239.

The HIT communities receiving REAP 2.0 funds include:

  • City of Oakland — $10 million;
  • City of Rancho Cordova — $4 million;
  • Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) — $2.41 million;
  • SANDAG — $10 million; and
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) — $3.59 million.

Related article:

Grants awarded to pro-housing metros

Meeting climate and housing goals

Programs such as REAP 2.0 are part of California’s legislative efforts to curb pollution and provide housing options for residents of all income levels.

A lack of priced-right housing options near job centers forces lower- and medium-wage workers to live far from work. This leads to longer commutes. Long commutes are linked to negative health effects, limited economic mobility and increased carbon emissions and air pollution.

Strategies California is adopting to address its housing inventory shortfall include:

  • creating and maintaining more low-income housing programs;
  • loosening regressive zoning restrictions;
  • supporting infill development;
  • encouraging the formation of accessory dwelling units (ADUs);
  • incentivizing transit-oriented communities; and
  • constructing more single family and multi-family housing units.

Contributing housing to low-income earners, loosening zoning restrictions, facilitating infill housing development (including ADUs) and investing in transit-oriented communities are all proactive strategies that help meet housing demand. As a bonus, compliance helps communities to win state grants. These grants are then able to be used for additional strategies to boost inventory. It’s a win-win.

The downside risks of limiting housing development are not to be ignored either. Local agencies who adopt a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) approach to achieving state housing goals are certain to face lawsuits from state regulators, including the HCD.

Related article:

California Attorney General clashes with NIMBYs in Huntington Beach


Is your area of practice reaping the rewards of helping to meet housing demand? Or is it on the state regulator’s naughty-communities list?

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