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Treasurer Talks Affordable Housing

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma attended the garden-reception fundraiser for Ventura County Housing Trust Fund as keynote speaker in support of the development of new affordable housing in Ventura County. The fund is asking businesses and the commercial real estate industry to help the nonprofit raise $10 million for matching funds available with the recent passage of Proposition 1, which would allow California to sell $4 billion in bonds in order to underwrite development of affordable housing and assistance to help veterans and low- and moderate-income Californians become homeowners. Such a match dollar-for-dollar will allow the fund to invest in new affordable housing. The event, held May 30 at Maravilla Gardens in Camarillo, was a who’s who of the region’s commercial real estate profession. Attendees included executives from Santa Paula-based real estate holder Limoneira Co., Winnetka-based Williams Homes, Ventura-headquartered Mainstreet Architects + Planners Inc. and Blois Construction; commercial and industrial real estate specialist Carl Alaniz of Camarillo-based Re/Max Gold Coast; and Oxnard-based Ventura County Contractors Association Executive Director Daylean Atkin and Business Development and Plan Room Administrator Savannah Williamson. Ma, who succeeded John Chiang as California State Treasurer after Chiang left his office to campaign for governor (an election won by Gov. Gavin Newsom), retraced her career rise. In a surprisingly candid talk, Ma, who has local roots through her marriage to Oxnard firefighter Jason Hodge, told some 200-plus people in attendance that, while she lives in San Francisco and works in Sacramento, she has personal struggles at home. “Living with my parents for the last 10 years, I am concerned with senior housing,” Ma said. “From (ages) 65 to 75, (senior care takes on) a whole different level. We haven’t done a good job. I’d like to see more holistic, inclusive senior housing. They’re depending on the next generation to care for them.” “I don’t have to get into the weeds on affordable housing,” Ma continued reminding people that she had served on an affordable housing-related commission for a year with Newsom prior to his election. Newsom’s current goal is to build 3.5 million affordable homes by 2025 and 500,000 units a year, and Ma said organizations such as VCHTF are especially crucial “with the demise of the redevelopment industry.” She also stated that she is in a great position to assist VCHTF’s mission. “As state treasurer, over $2 trillion goes through my office each year and $85 billion in bonds,” Ma said, adding how she also surveys small business loans and financing for schools and hospitals. “I would encourage you to look at what the state has to offer,” Ma said. “There are moneys, grants and loans nobody knows about. There is money that we can leverage.” After the event, the fund’s Chief Executive Linda Braunschweiger told the Business Journal that the 2019 fundraiser had more than surpassed those of previous years. “We were very pleased with the venue and the results,” she said. “It looks like we raised $100,000 last night, which is a huge jump for us. We also had a number of people talk with me about potential large investments ($1 million to $2 million) for the match. Very exciting.” At the event, Braunschweiger noted that the median-priced home in economically depressed Ventura County, with a long-running flat 3 percent vacancy, still runs high at $650,000, requiring a salary of more than $132,000 a year to afford it. “More people are competing for limited apartment (inventory), and $71,000 a year is required to rent a two-bedroom apartment. “And that assumes you can even find a place.” While local job growth rose, other statistics are flat. “Housing is dragging us down, folks,” Braunschweiger said. With a $10,000 apiece donation, City National Bank and Thousand Oaks-headquartered Sage Publications served as lead sponsors. Westlake Village City National personnel in attendance included Senior Community Development Officer Ray Mendoza and Senior Vice Manager Sim Tang-Paradis, who were joined by Oxnard branch manager Senior Vice President Greg Glover.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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