The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) was founded in 2015 with the reality that all our cities and businesses in the Monterey Bay region were trying to solve big problems independently — there was a need for one regional entity to help solve the problems we are facing in transportation, workforce development, broadband and housing.
MBEP’s power comes from multi-sectoral networks that include all three counties and 27 jurisdictions working together across the sectors. That’s what it takes to do the heavy lifting to create solutions that work for our region. We needed wider convenings to solve problems like housing and asked ourselves, “What can MBEP do to improve housing?”
We got a lot of smart people together in a room: private and nonprofit developers, employers, city and county staff and other community leaders to identify the gaps and opportunities for us to add value without duplicating efforts already in progress. We identified three major areas of focus for housing:
Funding: With the pre-development agencies going away seven years ago, there was a basic need for money for pre-development projects. That money allowed land to be purchased and paid architectural fees — all the things that need to be in place before a traditional bank finance loan would be considered. So, we started the Monterey Bay Housing Trust and now there is a pool of over $12 million available for low-cost loans to help projects get off the ground. We partnered with the Silicon Valley Housing Trust to bring this to the region.
Advocacy: So many projects are really good for the region but tend to be shot down by NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) proponents. We understand that many people don’t want a project near their home, but we desperately need more housing. The lack of housing has reached crisis proportions in the region.
We put together campaigns around smart projects that are being built near transportation and employers that would help house the people we need in our community like teachers and city staff. We have taken a look at the types of policies that could be changed in our cities and counties, and are working with staff members and elected officials to help them understand how they could implement relatively small changes in policy to increase more housing.
Employer Sponsored Housing: How could employers be one piece of the solution? By building employee housing on land they already own. We work with major employers throughout the region that are facing the challenge of recruiting and retaining talent because of the high cost and lack of housing in the region.
Our housing goals are to increase the housing supply by 12,000 new homes build by 2023, increase the number of housing advocates to 500 actively advocating for housing, increase awareness of creative solutions with five new employer-sponsored housing projects by 2021 and increase resources for development.
Kate Roberts is president of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership.