As Sacramento sees an increase in housing production, City works to keep momentum going

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed construction in many regions, Sacramento was able to keep construction moving and even increased housing production in 2020.

Sacramento saw an 18 percent increase in housing production in 2020 compared to 2019, with building permits issued for 3,744 new housing units in 2020, according to a report released by the City this week.

“This is the largest number of new housing units in 15 years,” said Matt Hertel, the City’s acting long-range planning manager. “Production of affordable housing increased significantly in 2020 with 33% of the units affordable to residents making less than $48,000 per year.”

Hertel said the City has been working to grow housing production and ensure it continues through the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding affordable housing projects, streamlining development processes and keeping planning approvals and building permits moving through the system quickly and efficiently.

“Through the City’s leadership, partnerships and planning process, we have been able to increase housing supply and push forward affordable-housing projects,” said the City’s Housing Policy Manager Danielle Foster. “The City is dedicated to providing resources and finding creative ways to increase affordable housing and housing production.”

Here are some of the strategies the City is using to increase housing production and ensure that housing needs are being met for people of all income levels:

  • Federal and state resources: By leveraging federal and state resources, the City and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) have been able to push forward housing projects such as Project Homekey to bring housing online quickly by converting motels into extremely low-income housing units, which include supportive services. The City worked to expand this program by creating manufactured home developments with St. John’s Program for Real Change and WEAVE.
  • Housing Trust Fund: As part of the midyear budget process, City Council set aside $31.5 million for the newly created “Housing Trust Fund” which will lend or grant money and other resources to further affordable housing projects, with a focus on shovel-ready projects and development options that can bring housing online with time and cost efficiency.
  • Affordable-housing projects: The Mirasl Village and the Lavender Courtyard developments are two notable projects that began their construction last year through ownership and development partnerships of SHRA, McCormack, Baron and Salazar, and Mutual Housing, adding much-needed affordable housing in the River District and downtown.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units: Although Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) have been permitted in Sacramento since 1983, the City has had a renewed focus on making these lower-cost housing options easier and cheaper to build. ADUs, often referred to as “granny flats,” are permanent dwelling units that may share at least one wall with the primary residence (attached) or be a stand-alone structure (detached) from the primary residence. In 2020, building permits were issued for 76 ADUs—the most built in a year to-date.
  • Streamlining construction processes: The City’s Community Development Department (CDD) has been working to streamline the process for development in Sacramento to make it easier for developers to build by reducing  certain fees and making the permitting process easier and faster.
  • Keeping construction moving: When public counters had to close for in-person business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the  City’s Building and Planning divisions responded by moving many of their construction-related services online. Customers are able to get their projects and permits approved and pay fees all online in one central location, which has helped to speed up the process and decrease wait times

The City is also looking at adding housing options in single-family neighborhoods to allow for a greater array of housing types such as duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in existing residential neighborhoods. This housing strategy will go back to Council as part of the City’s 2040 General Plan update for final council consideration in early 2022.

“While all this growth is great, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of work ahead in order to keep this type of momentum up,” Hertel said. “The City is committed to finding innovative ways of addressing the housing shortage and meeting the needs of our community.”

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