The Coachella Valley’s Housing Catalyst Fund, which is aimed at expediting development of affordable housing units, would receive $15 million under the latest iteration of the state’s proposed budget, the community group that helps administer the effort announced on Monday.
The Coachella Valley Housing Catalyst Fund is a partnership between nonprofit Lift to Rise, the Low Income Investment Fund, Rural Community Assistance Corporation and Riverside County Supervisor Manuel Perez that aims to increase housing stability and create paths to economic mobility for local residents.
Lift to Rise President and CEO Heather Vaikona said the organization and the Housing Authority of the County of Riverside set a 10-year goal to increase the supply of affordable housing by 10,000 units. With the catalyst fund, affordable housing developers can apply for a low-interest loan, get their projects moving and pay that money back once they have unlocked other sources of funding.
According to Lift to Rise, the state allocation would help fund 2,500 affordable housing units in the area over the next two years.
“The vast majority of people who work in the Coachella Valley, who drive this beautiful economy, cannot afford to stay housed or to feed their children because wages are not sufficient to meet the cost of housing, and that’s a structural issue,” Vaikona said . “It’s solvable by thinking and working together and doing things in a different way, but there’s no other solution out of this beyond radically increasing the supply of housing.”
“The catalyst fund isn’t the only thing that’s going to solve it, but it’s an absolutely phenomenal tool that’s going to change the trajectory for our region and massively increase the supply of housing,” she continued. “I feel humbled in this moment because we know how incredibly the daunting housing crisis is for folks.”
More than 1,250 of the anticipated units are already under development, but required additional funding before construction could begin, according to the organization. The first three loans went to Coachella Valley Housing Coalition projects: Oasis Villas Community in Thermal, Las Casas Apartments in Coachella and Vista Sunrise II in Palm Springs.
Lift to Rise plans to spur the production of an additional 7,500 new units by 2028.
According to the group, the median price for a single-family home in the Coachella Valley is $549,000, while 49% of Coachella households earn below $50,000 per year.
Vaikona added that it’s been difficult for the Coachella Valley to receive affordable housing funding since the state has typically favored metropolitan and coastal areas. She thanked Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, for his efforts in funding, as well as community members who called officials throughout the state to bring attention to the fund.
“Securing this direct state investment for our Coachella Valley Housing Catalyst Fund is vital to meeting our affordable housing needs and jump-starting construction projects,” Garcia said. “We are fully focused on getting the votes needed to approve the funds and advance our region’s cooperative, strategic housing vision.”
Last month, Supervisor Perez dedicated $2 million from the Fourth District’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funding into the Coachella Valley Housing Catalyst Fund to assist with getting more affordable housing across the finish line.
CNS contributed to this report.
Ema Sasic covers entertainment and health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ema_sasic.