Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that $352 million will be given to numerous city, housing, and mass transit organizations through the Regional Early Action Planning grants program (REAP 2.0) to create more environmentally friendly housing to help the state reach its goal of being carbon neutral by 2045.
Reap 2.0, a flexible grant program which aims to build more housing nearby places of work, mass transit centers, and services, previously was allotted funding through the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Reap 2.0 also follows the original REAP plan, which gave $125 million for similar housing projects in 2019, with the new funding being approved as part of Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan.
“California is backing local governments that are addressing the housing shortage and climate crisis with a focus on under-resourced communities that often bear the brunt of the climate crisis,” noted the Governor in a statement on Wednesday. “It is important that we build more housing in strategic locations near transportation hubs which helps reduce pollution and congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road.”
REAP 2.0 will specifically be allocated between larger Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and smaller Higher-Impact Transformative (HIT) allowances, with the $352 million to be split up as follows for more zero-carbon housing:
Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) $9.13 million
Madera County Transportation Commission (MCTC) $2.18 million
Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) $31.83 million for new green infill projects
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) $38.73 million
Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) $2.24 million
Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) $237.41 million
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) $567,239
City of Oakland $10 million
City of Rancho Cordova $4 million
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) $2,412,475
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) $10 million
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) $3,587,525
HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez also expressed that “These highly competitive awards are going to communities that have demonstrated a strong commitment to transforming historically under-resourced communities. High-impact REAP 2.0 grants will make possible the development of significant affordable housing near transit hubs, connecting vulnerable Californians to opportunity and moving the state toward its climate goals by reducing vehicle traffic.”
However, critics on Wednesday noted that most new housing and housing complexes already generally followed REAP 2.0 tenets, as more buyers and renters preferred more environmentally-friendly housing already anyway.
“That’s the thing with this funding, developers have already been kind of doing this to a large degree,” explained housing advisor and environmental consultant Deborah Rice to the Globe. “Renters want to be closer to transit places, they want better energy and environmental-based housing to cut back on utility bills. It was already being done without all this government money going into programs.”
“As for other housing, it has also gone very environmental in California based either on earlier laws or because what people buying want. Lawns have generally been losing favor to native plant fronts, with appliances going mostly or fully electric. A lot of solar panels too, especially in bigger tract areas like the Inland Empire. People already wanted this, with developers providing it because that’s what more people wanted. And people don’t mind it. In fact, most newer residents and renters would rather not have things like HOAs and have been fighting to get rid of them. Environmentally friendly stuff? It’s a plus.”
“What this money does is just speed up the process a bit. That’s it. 2045 is a hard date for them to be carbon neutral by. The way things are going, we are going to meet that anyway, but they just want it quicker it seems. But it seems like they want credit for this housing change rather than developers and others who have been building them because that’s what people want. We can only hope that this doesn’t lead to lower quality places to live because of the sudden expansion that seems to be coming.”
The MPO and HIT groups are expected to give breakdowns of where their funding will go soon.
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