- 3 P's of Housing: Preservation
- Community Land Trust
- Community Opportunity to Purchase (COPA)
- Condo Conversion Restrictions
- Housing Rehab Program
- One-for-one Replacement
- Proactive Code Enforcement
- Project-Based (Section 8) Site Preservation
- Single Resident Occupancy Preservation
- Site Acquisition
- Tenant Opportunity to Purchase
3 P's of Housing: Preservation
Preservation policies aim to provide strategies, resources to tenants, landlords, and other stakeholders (non-profit housing orgs) to preserve existing affordable.
Community Land Trusts
Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit organizations governed by a board of CLT residents, community residents and public representatives that provide lasting community assets and shared equity homeownership opportunities for families and communities. CLTs develop rural and urban agriculture projects, commercial spaces to serve local communities, affordable rental and cooperative housing projects, and conserve land or urban green spaces. However, the heart of their work is the creation of homes that remain permanently affordable, providing successful homeownership opportunities for generations of lower income families.
Case Study: Oakland, CA
In Oakland, CA, the CLT model is used to create permanent affordable housing for low-income residents, Black residents, and other communities of color that have been historically and systemically deprived of such access, ownership, and control. By removing land from the market and holding it in perpetuity, a CLT buffers its housing and other land uses from the volatility of economic, environmental, and political crises that often disproportionately impact low-income residents and communities of color. Likewise, CLTs preserve affordability and access when rising rents and home prices in hot markets threaten the stability of vulnerable families.
Community Opportunity to Purchase (COPA)
Another program that can be implemented in addition to a TOPA is a Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA). COPA differs from TOPA in that it allows a qualified nonprofit to make a first offer to purchase a building with low-income tenants if the property owner decides to sell.
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
The City of San Francisco passed the COPA to prevent tenant displacement and promote the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing. Specifically, the act gives qualified non-profit organizations the right of first offer, and/or the right of first refusal to purchase certain properties offered for sale in the City.
Condo Conversion Restrictions
Condominium Conversion Ordinances serve to both help offset the impact of the reduction in rental housing supply and to protect existing residents from displacement when their apartment unit is converted to a condominium. Ordinances that serve to offset the impact of condominium conversion on rental housing supply may require the seller to pay fees that go toward an affordable housing fund. Policies may require a one for one replacement of converted units or require that a percentage of the converted condominiums are sold at affordable prices. Other options to offset the impact are to establish a lottery to restrict the number of buildings that may be converted, or to give residents, as a group, a “right of first refusal” for the purchase of the entire building. This can allow a mission-driven or non-profit developer to purchase the building that will preserve the units as affordable rental housing
Case Study: East Palo Alto, CA
The City of East Palo Alto includes condominium conversion restrictions unless certain findings can be presented (findings listed in Section 14.24.040). The intent behind the requirements is listed as follows:
- Provide a reasonable balance of ownership and rental housing and a variety of choices of tenure, type, price and location of housing;
- Protect tenants from evictions deriving from incentives to convert rental housing stock to condominiums;
- Reduce the impact of conversion on residents in rental housing who may be required to relocate due to the conversion of apartments to condominiums by providing procedures for notification and adequate time and assistance for such relocation;
- Ensure that converted housing achieves a high degree of appearance, safety, quality and is consistent with the goals of the city;
- Promote homeownership opportunities and increase the amount of owner-occupied housing affordable to all segments of the community
- Recognize that the conversion of rental units to condominium ownership reduces the stock of affordable rental units in the city.
Case Study: Mountain View, CA
The City of San Mateo implemented the Conversion Limitation Act to address housing needs of the community and to reduce the loss of rental housing supply. Additionally, the act also makes it unlawful for any landlord to seek to evict or otherwise penalize any tenant if the landlord is motivated in any substantial part of the tenant's actual or prospective opposition to any conversion (SEC 28.92)
Housing Rehab Program
Homeowner rehabilitation assistance programs provide funds to income-eligible owner-occupants to assist with the repair, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of their homes. Rehab assistance could come in the form of grants or loans and be dependent on resident’s income and/or ability to repay. As a preservation strategy, housing rehab assistance could protect older housing stock from needing to come off the market and potentially displacing tenants.
Case Study: Stockton, CA
The City of Stockton Housing Division administers the Emergency Repair Program and Single-Family Housing Repair Loan Program. Under the Emergency Repair Program, a low-income property owner can receive a one-time housing repair assistance loan up to $30,000. Additionally, the Single-Family Housing Repair Loan offers financial assistance to low-income homeowners for substantial interior and exterior repairs. This loan program helps brings eligible properties up to California and local building code standards.
A One-for-one replacement or No Net Loss policy essentially requires that if a unit is demolished, it must be replaced by no less than 1 unit. In 2019, CA passed the Housing Crisis Act which states that, “No new housing may be approved that will require the demolition or removal of residential dwelling units, unless the project would create as many units as are proposed for demolition or removed or that existed in the previous five years (“no net loss” of existing residential units) and Prohibits any moratorium, project or action that would result in a net downzoning, limit the number of permits to be issued, or otherwise reduce housing or limit overall population. This requirement does not apply to zoning changes that might reduce intensity for certain parcels where density would be concurrently increased on others and therefore result in “no net loss” in zoned housing capacity or intensity. Additionally, many funding programs include no net loss as a requirement to ensure that the number of affordable units is not decreased because of demolition and typically require a unit to be rebuilt with the same affordability.
Case Study: Portland, OR
The “No Net Loss” Resolution was passed in August 2001 and establishes the policy that either through preservation or replacement, the City will maintain the number of units that were affordable at 60% MFI and below in 2002, according to the baseline established in the 2002 Central City Housing Inventory.
Proactive Code Enforcement
The California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO) defines Code Enforcement as “the prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement of violations of statutes or ordinances regulating public health, safety, and welfare, public works, business activities and consumer protection, building standards, land-use, or municipal affairs". While many Code Enforcement departments are small, they can play a significant role in stabilizing neighborhoods and ensuring units are safe and habitable. When units are required to go off market due to code violations, existing tenants may be displaced. Traditional code enforcement practices can be reactive, relying on the complaint of a tenant or other stakeholder before an inspection begins. Proactive systems rely on regular property inspections, up to date rental property registries and routine data collection. These systems can help prevent landlord retaliation, ensure violations are addressed without relying on the limited capacity of tenants and help to forge stronger partnerships across tenant organizations and inspectors.
Case Study: Fresno, CA
The City of Fresno recently switched to a more proactive code enforcement system. They require all property owners to register in a public database and subject all units to a baseline inspection and regular follow ups thereafter. To promote quality neighborhoods and reporting of potential violations, the City of Fresno encourages residents to use the “FresGO” app, which allows residents to anonymously report issues, concerns, track requests, provide comments, and learn about city services. The City of Fresno also created the “Quality Neighborhoods Guide” pdf to provide residents with facts about City requirements and identifies the 15 most common violations, to encourage voluntary compliance among property owners.
Case Study: San Jose, CA
The City of San Jose view its Code Enforcement department as critical in combatting displacement risk. The department has the following explicit goals: seek funding sources to assist landlords with low-cost loans and grants for property improvements, expand proactive rental inspections/requirements for rental units, explore receivership of properties that have become serious health and safety dangers to residents, target preservation funds to community and nonprofit partners who can acquire and maintain properties with rehab needs (in areas experiencing displacement), and conducting a review of the City’s relocation policies.
Project-Based (Section 8) Site Preservation.
Like other preservation strategies mentioned, preservation of Project-Based (Section 8) sites can ensure existing affordable housing units are not loss due to expiration of affordable housing contracts between private owners and the federal government (HUD). While there is not one strategy, local governments can implement things like a “preservation inventory” that would allow them to have early identification of affordable units that may be expiring.
Single Resident Occupancy Preservation
Single room occupancies (SRO), also called residential hotels, and house one or two people in individual rooms. These units typically have shared bathrooms and/or kitchens. This form of housing can act as a permanent residence affordable for low-income individuals. SRO preservation ordinances help to preserve or create new SRO units. Implementing cities include San Francisco, Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Fairfield, Napa, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
The Residential Hotel Unit Conversion Ordinance (HCO) was adopted on June 26, 1981 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The purpose of this ordinance is to preserve affordable housing by preventing the loss of residential hotel units through conversion to tourist rooms or demolition, and to prevent the displacement of low-income, elderly, and disabled persons. This is accomplished by maintaining units reported as residential units within SRO hotels as residential, regulating the demolition and conversion of residential hotel units to other uses, the requirement of a one-to-one replacement of units to be converted from residential use or payment of an in-lieu fee, and appropriate administrative and judicial remedies for illegal conversions.
Acquisition programs can be implemented by a local jurisdiction to acquire and/or preserve rental sites. Jurisdictions could also implement a fund to help non-profits and for-profit acquire properties and restrict them as permanently affordable. This approach focuses on preserving existing current affordable housing and keeping tenants from being displaced due to sale of a building.
Case Study: San Francisco, CA
The Small Sites Program (SSP) in San Francisco helps residents avoid displacement or eviction. SSP protects tenants living in these properties, by removing them from the speculative market. The properties are then converted to permanently affordable housing. The SSP has seen the following results:
- More permanently affordable housing (no longer rent-controlled)
- Stabilized housing for current tenants
- Improved physical condition of these buildings
- Financial sustainability
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase
According to All-In Cities, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) policies provide tenants living in multi-family buildings with advance notice that the landlord is planning to sell their building and an opportunity for them to collectively purchase the building. While All-In Cities cites that TOPA is an emerging anti-displacement tool that can preserve affordable rental housing stock, empower tenants, and stabilize low-income households, the first TOPA bill was enacted in 1980 in Washington, D.C.
Case Study: Washington, D.C.
The D.C. TOPA program assists low-to moderate income District residents threatened with displacement because of the sale of their building. This program offers low-interest loans to income-qualified persons and tenant groups in the District to be used for: (1) down payment; (2) earnest money deposits; (3) purchase; and (4) legal, architectural, and engineering costs. An additional program offered in D.C. is the Tenant Purchase Technical Assistance Program which provides free, specialized development services for tenant groups pursuing the purchase of their apartment buildings as cooperatives or condominiums, including: (1) assistance with organizing and structuring the group; (2) preparation of legal organizational documents; and (3) help with loan applications.