The following summarizes the recommendations that can be addressed immediately or in the near future. The recommendations are prioritized based on community input from two forums that were held in October and January 2009. These forums brought together consumers, parents, service providers, housing organizations and regional centers to provide input to the prioritization on these recommendations:

Inform Families How to Utilize Their Assets to Assist in the Expansion of Housing Options

It can be achieved by developing and implementing outreach strategies to parents, regional centers and service agencies. Giving housing-related training for individuals/families through workshops, individual consultations, videos on DVD and website, brochures and a planning manual are all channels which can be utilized in this process. Additionally, assistance in property evaluation to determine viability of property with respect to its physical and financial condition and one-on-one family counseling for those who wish to donate a home can be carried out.

This type of program gives parents a mechanism to donate the family home and ensure that their son or daughter could live in the house for the rest of their life. Additionally, after the person with the disability passes on, the house would remain in the system providing housing to others with developmental disabilities. This is a great way for parents to ensure a stable living environment for the rest of their lives. At the local level, it is important to develop a mechanism or program to educate, inform, and assist families to donate a home to the housing organization to ensure a stable living environment for family members.

Influence Federal Housing Resources

There are three significant federal housing planning activities that housing advocates can use to successfully influence the use of federal housing resources for people with developmental disabilities. These federally mandated plans control billions of dollars of federal housing funding that can be used to expand affordable housing and accessible housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

This can be achieved though influencing Federal Housing resources by working with the statewide collaborative group to ensure regional centers and local housing organizations are aware of the mechanism to provide input to these plans. ARCA also needs to be aware of the housing models that exist in other parts of the country.

Influence State Housing Resources

There are state financing programs that provide funding to non-profits for affordable housing development. It is important that all state agencies are made aware of and be sensitive to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities.

Educating state agencies regarding the current and future housing needs of people with developmental disabilities can be prioritized. Working with the statewide collaborative group to ensure information is provided so that local NPOs and regional centers can be involved in the planning process is another step than can be taken. The ARCA housing specialist will work with local regional centers and NPOs to provide data and monitor the Housing Element update process to ensure that demographic and descriptive information regarding the unique housing needs of the developmentally disabled.

Supplement the Development of Housing Through Multi-Family Housing Program (MHP) MHP funds can be used to supplement the development of housing as well as the acquisition and rehabilitation of single-family homes. However, there are two regulatory issues that need to be addressed. ARCA can work with the HCD to change these regulations to alter their limitations. ARCA housing specialist will advocate for changes to the regulations upon the review of the regulations by HCD in 2009.

Assist with Scattered Site Multi-Family Funding Requirements Multi-Family Housing Program (MHP) funds can only be used for acquisition and rehabilitation of scattered site multi-family homes if at least five homes are acquired under one financing plan and one property management plan. This can be managed by working with HCD and regional center/NPOs to use MHP funding to develop or acquisition/rehab scattered site single-family homes of at least five units that will be financed under one financing plan and pursuant to HCD MHP regulations.

Develop a Permanent Funding Source The Multi-Family Housing Program funds are part of the Proposition 1C funds. These funds will run out in the next couple years. HCD is working on developing a permanent source of funding for affordable housing development and programs. ARCA should provide input to HCD on finding solutions to a permanent source of funding.

Promote Housing Organization NPO Sustainability

As regional centers are developing their housing NPOs, there may be an unrealistic expectation that the NPO will become financially self-sustaining.

In order to support them, a mechanism needs to be developed that would allow regional centers to fund NPOs with funds that can be used for general population housing support and services (other than CPP funding) and not tied to a particular consumer. Funding should be tied to measurable outcomes. Also, programs that are developed should include a balance of housing development and housing service.

Adjust Regional Center Housing Structure To Monitor Housing Programs

As regional centers are developing housing capacity, and housing NPOs, the regional centers may implement effective procedures using staff expertise that can facilitate more successful NPO housing programs.

As funding permits, each regional center should have a person on staff who is dedicated to implementing housing programs that is funded by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). This person should be a manager of community services or equivalent position. Creating a mechanism for regional centers to oversee any assets developed using regional center funds will also improve effectiveness.

Remedy the Lack of Available and Dedicated Funding

The lack of available funding from both the public and private sector is one of the major challenges faced by those who wish to provide affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities. The current climate in today‘s financial lending has only made matters more challenging. Not only is it getting harder to secure conventional loans, traditional affordable housing sources are becoming more difficult to access.

In order for NPOs to access funds quickly to finance housing opportunities and programs, leveraging the regional center’s lobbying powers along with non-profits, a large loan pool can be created offering low-interest, long term loans for NPOs working with regional centers on housing projects. Continuation of the Community Placement Program funds, consistent with DDS Housing Guidelines, can also keep the momentum on projects going. Adding to a Housing Trust Fund using funds from the sale or lease of a State Developmental Center property and working with organizations such as Enterprise Foundation and LISC can help develop a pool of money specifically for people with developmental disabilities. Updating and educating regional centers and housing organizations regarding the funding opportunities that currently exist can help further develop the availability of dedicated funding.

Improve Asset Management and Property Management

Properties are sometimes developed without adequate attention to the long-term physical and financial preservation of the asset.

This is an area where improvements can be made ensuring that sufficient maintenance reserves are capitalized in the development budget based on a detailed, realistic useful life analysis, with additional reserves for “behavioral” homes. Lease agreements can be developed by specially defining the roles of the NPO and service provider too.

Offer Rental Assistance

Nearly all people with developmental disabilities have earnings at or below 30 percent of median income levels. The gap between income levels and the cost of housing makes housing unattainable unless people with developmental disabilities have rental subsidies, or housing is developed at a cost that someone on SSI can afford.

This can be addressed by developing a mechanism and guidelines that would enable regional centers to provide rental/operating subsidies to housing projects. The guidelines would include obligating the NPO and developer partner to provide rejection notices from other subsidy sources such as Housing Authorities.

Utilize Real Estate-Owned Properties (REOs)

The unfortunate circumstances of home foreclosure and the depressed housing market have left many banks and mortgage holders with homes they cannot sell. Affordable housing providers are working with banks and mortgage holders to secure bank-owned properties at below market rate in exchange for long-term affordability restrictions. This arrangement may also help banks meet their Community Reinvestment Act requirements.

ARCA should develop a “real estate-owned program” creating a mechanism to find, locate, and finance real estate-owned properties for local NPOs that is quick and efficient.

Invest in Appreciating Housing Inventory Through Implementation of SB 1175

As more people with developmental disabilities, including those with significant and complex needs, move into the community, the demand for innovative and affordable housing options continues to rise.

ARCA should coordinate a statewide housing effort; working with regional centers, funding agencies, DDS, and housing NPOs to help facilitate the implementation of SB 1175. The goal is to develop resources that regional centers and their affiliated NPOs can use to develop and implement their housing plans. This can be done through close collaboration between ARCA and DDS on the implementation plan for SB 1175.