Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

The Orange County Housing Finance Trust met for the first time as a government board on Thursday, June 28, to discuss the initiative to find 2,700 housing units over the next six years in order to reduce homelessness in the area. Earlier this year, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the OCHFT Joint Powers Authority Agreement.

As of June, OCHFT has 17 member agencies—including the City of Dana Point. Councilmember Jamey Federico sits on the OCHFT Board of Directors.

In June 2018, the Board of Supervisors approved a Housing Funding Strategy in response to homelessness and a shortage of housing in Orange County. It set a target for the development of 2,700 new supportive housing units within six years and identified a need for an additional 2,700 affordable housing units during the same time frame. The Housing Funding Strategy identified all the funding sources for both capital and operating funding.  While these numbers are significant it is not enough to fill the funding gap needed to achieve the target housing units.

On September 11, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 448 into law which authorized the creation of the Orange County Housing Finance Trust. AB 448 allowed the County of Orange and any of the cities within Orange County to mutually create a joint powers authority.

“The collaborative effort will allow the Orange County region to be more competitive and access additional funding sources available to address the homelessness and affordability crisis,” according to the OCHFT website.

Housing trusts are repositories for funds to construct affordable housing and are established by state, city or county governments. Trust funds come from voter-approved bonds, private donations, or dedicated, long-term streams like developer fees or from general funds.

Following the passage of AB 448, the county worked with representatives from the Association of California Cities Orange County to form a collaborative working group, made up of elected officials and county and city staff to establish the framework for the OCHFT.

The OCHFT could potentially access $5 million from county discretionary funds going forward. As of press time, the date for the next OCHFT board meeting had not been set. For future meeting agendas and schedules, visit ochft.org.

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