LISC National
What We Do

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

What is the Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program?

Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program is a capacity-building program for faith and community-based organizations located in Alameda County that are interested in developing affordable housing on their underutilized properties.  Bay Area LISC is offering the program in partnership with Alameda County and the San Francisco Foundation.

The program will include a series of technical workshops hosted throughout the summer covering the components of affordable housing development.  The workshops will culminate with an opportunity to apply for targeted technical assistance for those organizations with projects that meet certain thresholds.  For organizations looking to apply for the targeted technical assistance, additional information will be provided at the workshops.

What do you mean by “affordable housing”?

“Affordable housing” is a broad term and can mean different things to different people depending on their perspective.  We hear terms like “below market rate” or “affordable homeownership” or “public housing” and it can be difficult to know what they all mean.  One of the goals of the program is to help de-mystify these terms. 

Generally, housing is considered affordable when a household does not pay more than 30% of their gross income towards housing costs.  Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program is designed to support the development of rental apartments that are affordable to individuals and/or families earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Alameda CountyHowever, program participants will develop unique project concepts and target project financing which will determine more specific affordability levels for the housing. 

What is a “capacity-building program”?

For faith and community-based organizations, “capacity building” can be about learning and/or skill building to enable your organization to determine whether it makes sense to expand your mission or take on additional projects.  Capacity building can also be about adding to your organization’s staffing or systems, for example, in order to do more of what you are already doing.  

Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program will focus on helping you determine what your organization needs to do to leverage your property assets to create affordable housing in your community.   

Why do we need a capacity-building program?

Developing affordable housing is a complicated process and requires making a variety of decisions that can affect your organization for years to come.  By participating in this program, you will learn about the process to develop, own and manage affordable rental housing to enable your organization to navigate the inherent complexities with adequate information and support along the way. 

What happens at the workshops and how many are there?

The first part of Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program is a series of four educational workshops where you will learn about what is helpful to consider if you are interested in developing affordable rental housing on your property.  These workshops will provide case studies of successful projects completed by faith and community-based organizations in partnership with experienced housing developers; time for questions & answers and discussion; and take home materials that your organization can use to decide whether you want to take on an affordable housing project and apply for the targeted technical assistance.

Workshops will cover:

  • The basics of affordable housing development and finance;
  • How to evaluate your property’s potential for affordable housing development;
  • How to identify and then leverage your organization’s strengths and address its limitations for taking on a project;
  • The basics of joint venture partnerships and how to evaluate a prospective partner; and, most importantly,
  • How to identify your organization’s goals and priorities and stay in control of those issues along the way.

I am interested in receiving the targeted technical assistance for my project.  Tell me more about how to apply for that.  

After the workshops, this program will provide access to customized technical assistance and training from industry experts as well as limited financial assistance for select organizations to advance their affordable housing projects.  Organizations will be selected through a competitive application process for additional project assistance based project type, organizational commitment, willingness to partner with an experienced affordable housing developer, and other criteria.  The application form will be available at the workshops, and towards the end of the workshop series, trainers will be on hand to work with organizations that want assistance applying for the targeted support.  The deadline for submitting the application will be in the fall after the conclusion of the final workshop. 

Why do we have to partner with an experienced housing developer to qualify for funding?  We want to do it on our own.

Developing affordable housing is challenging, and successful projects require a team of professionals with proven experience.  The projects in the case studies you will hear about in the workshops were completed by faith and community-based organizations who had not developed housing before in partnership with an experienced affordable housing developer. 

When negotiated properly, a partnership with an experienced developer will protect the priorities and long-term interests of your organization while making your project eligible for funding sources, amongst other benefits.  Of course a partnership will bring trade-offs, but this program is designed to help your organization differentiate between your “must-haves” and the issues you can live with because of the organizational and broader community benefits.

If we attend the workshops, could our organization be ready to develop rental housing based on the materials presented and not need the targeted technical assistance?

That would be great!  We expect that the second part of the program might not be of interest to some organizations for many reasons including having a clear path to move forward that does not require access to additional resources through Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program. 

Is the program free?

Yes!  The workshops and the targeted technical assistance are free thanks to generous support from Alameda County and the San Francisco Foundation.

Can anyone attend the workshops?

Yes!  These workshops are open to everyone.

When do the workshops start?

The workshops will be held starting in May of 2019 and continuing through August.

Where will the workshops be held?

Each individual workshop will be held multiple times at different locations across the county to make them as convenient and accessible as possible for all organizations that are interested.  Please click here for more information on workshop times and locations as they are scheduled.

If you have suggestions for workshop locations or would be willing to host a workshop, please contact us at HDCB@lisc.org.  We are interested in affordable and ADA-compliant spaces, located near public transportation that can accommodate between 50-100 people.

Who should attend from our organization?  Can we send more than one person?  

We recommend that organizations send members who will be able to bring back important concepts and decisions for the larger organization to consider and discuss.  It is also important that they will have the time to attend the entire workshop series as well as to coordinate within their organizations to complete homework in between.  

Yes!  More than one person can attend from each organization and it is encouraged for members to share in the process.

Should I bring my real estate broker, appraiser, partner, etc.?

During the workshops, trainers and presenters will focus on providing information to help you determine what your organization needs to do to leverage your existing property assets for mission-aligned purposes such as affordable housing.  You are welcome to bring anyone you think should be included. 

Do we need to come to all of the workshops?

It is up to you!  The workshops are designed to build on each other over the series.  Attending all the organizations is the best way to get the most out of the program, but you may attend as many as you wish.

Do we have to attend all the workshops to be eligible to apply for the targeted technical assistance? 

Although attendance is not required to apply for the customized technical and limited financial assistance offered in the second part of the program, the trainings will provide valuable information to make the application process easier.

What do you mean by financial assistance?  How many organizations will receive funding?

Organizations that are selected to receive the targeted technical assistance through the program will also have access to limited funding they can use to hire consultants, contract for architectural and legal services, order third party reports, and for direct assistance to their organizations to support adequate capacity to complete their project.

This program will provide targeted technical and limited financial assistance to advance up to 10 affordable housing projects through the competitive application process.

Will Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program help us to develop single-family homes or condominiums for sale?

Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program is geared towards helping organizations develop affordable rental apartments.  Although communities should plan for below market-rate homeownership opportunities as part of a larger strategy to create a variety of affordable housing, this program does not focus on homeownership.

Alameda County has some resources available for homeownership programs.  Please see their website for more information. 

Can we use these resources to develop an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)?

Many Bay Area communities are developing programs to make it easier to develop ADUs - also called secondary or in-law units or sometimes granny flats – which are typically located on the same lot as an existing single-family home.  ADUs are one strategy for adding units in low-density areas to accommodate the high demand for housing.  

This program, however, is geared towards helping organizations develop affordable rental properties of generally five (5) or more units. 

For more information about ADUs, please click here

What if I already have land and an experienced development partner?  Can we come to the workshops?

Yes!  Please feel free to attend the workshops with or without your development partner.

If you would prefer to skip the workshops and apply for the targeted technical assistance available in the second part of the program, please send an email to HDCB@lisc.org so we can contact you once the applications are available. 

I am too busy to attend the workshops.  How can I still benefit from this program?

LISC will make training materials and resource documents available throughout the program.  You can access those documents here once they are available. 

Developers have approached our organization in the past and it did not go well.  How will this experience be different?

We understand that some organizations have had challenging experiences in the past, and this program was developed to help organizations avoid similar situations.  Alameda County Housing  Development Capacity Building Program is ultimately focused on helping faith and community-based organizations realize their affordable housing vision while maintaining control over the issues that are important to them throughout the process. 

In the workshops, you will be guided through the “nuts and bolts” of joint venture partnerships and shown examples of best practices in possible ownerships structures in order to determine which one is right for your organization.  We will share tools for protecting your organization’s interests and mitigating the inherent risks of taking on an affordable housing project.

During the program, your organization may decide that developing affordable rental housing on your property is not what they want to do.  That is ok too! 

Can we develop affordable housing just for members of our congregation?

Federal fair housing laws ensure that landlords do not discriminate against prospective tenants based on their race, religion, ethnic background or national origin, sex, familial status (such as having children under age 18) or physical or mental disability.  State and even some local laws go further in identifying other protected classes.  We will go into more detail in the workshops on complying with these laws. 

In addition, in order to take advantage of low-cost financing for affordable housing, your project funders will require that, once available, the housing is widely marketed and equally accessible to income eligible households.  In addition, funds that target specific populations such as seniors, veterans, or families or individuals experiencing homelessness will require additional tenant eligibility criteria.

We have worked with several faith-based organizations to help them develop their properties.  How can we help?

As part of the program, we will be compiling lists of pre-qualified potential joint venture partners, consultants and other professionals that program participants can use for referrals.  We anticipate sharing this information with groups at the later workshops.  If you would like to hear more about our pre-qualification process, please contact us at HDCB@lisc.org. 

Anyone is welcome to attend the workshops.  We anticipate an interactive learning environment and it can be good to have folks in the room who have “been there and done that”.

We would love to partner with a church to develop their property.  Can you provide us with an introduction?

As part of the program, we will be compiling lists of pre-qualified potential joint venture partners, consultants and other professionals that participants can use for referrals.  If you would like to hear more about our pre-qualification process, please contact us at HDCB@lisc.org.

I know there are vacant churches in my neighborhood.  I am a local real estate agent.  How can I get involve

Since we are targeting this program to faith and community-based organizations with developable land who are interested in developing affordable rental housing, we do not anticipate the need for real estate broker or agent services. 

As a community member, you are welcome to attend the workshops and we would appreciate your help marketing the program to organizations you know might be interested in participating.