CEO Daniel A. Nissenbaum’s Reflections on LIIF’s Decades of Work Spurring the Development of Affordable Housing in California
LIIF helped design and launch Golden State Acquisition Fund (GSAF). This is one in a series of public-private fund partnerships we have led, to help drive the state’s housing agenda. The 10th anniversary of GSAF is being celebrated just as LIIF approaches its 40th anniversary. This underscores that LIIF has been working in California for decades, with a central focus on affordable housing.
We have raised capital and managed more than five different housing funds, for over $750 million. And these funds have created or supported 15,886 housing units – including supportive housing, affordable rental housing, and homeownership units.
Our core approach is to work as a thought partner to government, to secure capital from banks as part of their community investment goals, to blend in philanthropic funding to reduce capital costs, and to deliver responsible and affordable loan capital to housing developers.
And that’s what we have been doing for almost 40 years since we began as the Low Income Housing Fund.
This track record of performance – of impact, of reach, of safety and soundness – has led to an increasing reliance on LIIF as a strong steward of capital.
We have supported a range of initiatives, including homeless housing programs in Los Angeles, transit-oriented development housing in the Bay area, and, most recently, a statewide initiative to serve operators of home-based and center-based child care.
And our work extends to less well funded areas as well.
In Santa Cruz County, we are supporting a 36-unit new construction project helping the developer access the state’s Farm Worker Housing Grant program.
In the Coachella Valley, we have partnered to create the We Lift: The Coachella Valley’s Housing Catalyst Fund, to deploy almost $5 million to jump-start critically needed housing.
It is imperative that we are responding to both the huge need in the affordable housing arena, as well as the call from public sector partners, who have new state funding and federal stimulus funding, to design and deploy innovative new approaches to address the current housing crisis.
In this response, we must continue to press past the limits of the way we used to do things. Urgent times call for urgent measures.
That is why LIIF has new products, including a loan to provide critically needed working capital to LIHTC developers whose projects have been delayed, as well as another working capital loan product for Black developers.
The urgency to respond to the housing crisis must also be matched with the urgency of addressing racial equity. Which can often be at odds: when the push is to get capital out as fast as possible, that typically results in the path of least resistance – existing players benefiting from historical advantages. LIIF is laser focused on both addressing the need, and on leveling the playing field for those who have been historically excluded from controlling capital to create community projects.
This response is even more critical, as we begin to see banks pull back in the face of a potential recession, which is only exacerbated by indications that the currently proposed Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulation will reduce bank investment in local communities.
Our leaders in Washington, D.C. are unable to agree to pay the bills for promises made. It is the day-to-day work at the local level that we all know is what delivers the promises that should have been made – for safe, secure and healthy housing for all people. As our state and local government leaders work so hard to help deliver the promise, LIIF is committed to support that work to our best abilities.