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Century Housing Announces The Century California Fund Investment Initiative

Century California Fund Logo

Century Housing announces the Century California Fund (CCF) investment initiative to help close the gap in economic and social disparities in California.

Since its founding, Century has been focused on addressing the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the communities it serves. Consistent with its mission, Century is making a further investment in underserved communities, specifically communities of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who have been disproportionately impacted by lack of access to traditional lending, education, affordable housing, livable wages and small business opportunities.

With an initial seed investment of $8 million in the CCF fund, Century hopes to make a positive impact for underserved communities that typically have inadequate financial wealth to access higher education, or access to financing for business opportunities, affordable housing, or home ownership.

“We believe in closing racial wealth gaps, in access to higher education, living wages, lending and financial opportunities,” said Alan Hoffman, SVP, Century Housing. “The CCF initiative’s emphasis will include education, jobs, small business expansion, and affordable housing,” added Hoffman.

The inaugural theme for the CCF is the Century Educational Opportunity (CEO) grant. CCF’s pilot program is tackling the challenges facing under-resourced communities. We seek to empower students to enroll in vocational or trade school and invest in higher education to become the next generation of leaders, notably in the affordable housing financing and development sectors.

“The CEO grant program is in line with our mission, vision and values of Century, to help people stay housed, healthy, and have new opportunities”, said Ronald Griffith, President and CEO, Century Housing. “In addition, education reduces income inequality and increase intergenerational social mobility”, Mr. Griffith added.

The nine organizations receiving grants include California State University, Fullerton – Project Rebound, Coalition of Rural Housing (CCRH), Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), El Camino College, Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC), Larkin Street Youth Services (LSYC), LifeSteps, Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and Venice Community Housing (VCH).

“Coalition for Responsible Community Development is proud to be a recipient of the Century California Fund, which will help to support graduates of CRCD Academy, a partnership with Youth Build Charter School of California based in South Los Angeles, to use towards their post-secondary or continued education,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO, CRCD.

“The California Coalition for Rural Housing is greatly honored to be included in the first cohort of nine Century Housing Fund awardees, statewide.  We will use the funds to provide scholarship assistance to aspiring or current university/college students from farmworker, tribal, and rural communities hard hit by the pandemic, wildfires, and income losses,” said Rob Weiner, President and CEO, CCRH.

Michael Fuller, Executive Director of Foundation for LACC adds, “The Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges is proud to partner with Century California Fund in offering scholarships to LACCD student who will benefit by entering the workforce with good paying jobs that strengthen the social fabric of communities throughout Southern California.”

Pandemic Puts Homeownership in African American Communities at Risk

In the post-COVID-19 era, African American homeownership in Los Angeles County is predicted to reach an even more concerning level. During the 2007 recession, foreclosure rates among African American homeowners were three times that of non-Hispanic Whites. According to the recent UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge’s Saving Black Homeownership report, the significant homeownership gap between these groups had only started to close between 2010 and 2019, albeit at an extremely slow pace. However, whatever progress made has now been disrupted by COVID-19.

Compared with non-Hispanic Whites, African American households experienced more job losses during this pandemic. As a result, this vulnerable demographic was about twice as likely to have hardship with mortgage payment. Between April and October 2020, about 3,665 new preforeclosure notices were served. Unfortunately, this rate is more than one-and-a-half times greater in African American neighborhoods.

To preempt the crisis, the UCLA study recommends a series of actions, including:

  1. Prompting elected officials to secure a plan before the inevitable post-COVID-19 evictions and foreclosures happen. This should include a Mortgage Relief Fund or assistance program to cover all or partial missed mortgage payments for low- and moderate-income homeowners, with consideration to the most vulnerable homeowners and neighborhoods.
  2. Continuing to monitor developments in real-time and identifying homeowners who fall behind on their payment.
  3. Addressing funding and access to resource inequalities, such as supporting organizations that can reach struggling homeowners, including those who don’t know about or have trouble accessing resources that can reduce foreclosure risk.
  4. Requiring lenders to provide disclosure to mortgage holders about housing counseling and other available resources.
  5. Building on current policies for an inclusive solution for all homeowners in Los Angeles County. Improving existing policies allow local governments to prioritize and give support to the most vulnerable families and neighborhoods.

It is crucial to take action on the current challenges to African American homeowners. Addressing the needs of at-risk homeowners’ calls for policy reforms with the goal of keeping families in the home by helping those who are behind on their mortgage. Time is of the essence, as thousands of vulnerable residents are certain to lose their homes in the near future.

Read the full UCLA report

Looking Back on 2020

As we reflect back on a challenging 2020, we’d like to recount a sampling of the Century team’s proudest achievements. These accomplishments reflect the best of Century’s values, advancing our mission of making homes the cornerstone of a thriving and just society.

  • Century celebrates 25 years of service with two $25,000 donations to charter schools that we established and helped operate. Both schools are located in Inglewood and serve low income, minority communities. Find out more at https://century.org/25th/
  • Century closed loans totaling approximately $209M, which will create and preserve 4,544 affordable homes for families, seniors, and veterans at a average affordability of 46.5% of AMI and will help create more than 4,400 construction jobs. We continue to be the highest volume CDFI lender to affordable and workforce housing in the State.
  • Our remarkable Century Villages at Cabrillo staff responded rapidly to the pandemic to provide supportive services, community engagement activities, and property management services, addressing the acute needs of their vulnerable population. This included the coordination and deployment of COVID resources for residents including masks, COVID testing, food vouchers, Internet access, and more, resulting in one of the lowest infection rates compared to similar shared living areas.
  • Century was assigned a ‘AA’ Rating with a stable outlook by Fitch Ratings, one of the major nationally recognized financial rating organization. This rating joins our current S&P Global’s AA- rating and makes Century the first CDFI to be rated by both Fitch and S&P.
  • Century issued $85 million in ESG municipal CUSIP bonds to advance our mission throughout the state of California, becoming the first CDFI to come to market with a municipal bond CUSIP. The third-party opinion by Sustainalytics attests to both the environmental and social benefits that will be created by the homes made possible by these bonds.
  • Our Long Beach development, The Beacon, received numerous prestigious awards, including SCANPH Development of the Year, AIA-LA Residential Architecture Award, PCBC Gold Nugget Grand Award, and Multi-Housing News Excellence Award.
  • In July, a required VA public hearing took place, which cleared the path for development activities at the West LA VA campus. Century and partners Thomas Safran & Associates (TSA) and U.S.VETS continued advocacy for the West LA Campus Improvements Act, which was introduced to Congress by Senator Feinstein in the fall. TSA broke ground on Building 207 and the Dry Utility Trunkline. Visit wlavc.org to learn more.
  • Century and partners, HACLA, Richman Group, and National CORE submitted the One San Pedro Transformation Plan to This plan was the result of extensive hands-on community outreach, planning and design work, and due diligence and assessment activities. It will pave the way for future development activities, including up to 1,400 homes, parks and open space, and commercial and supportive service space. Find out more at www.onesanpedro.org

 

LA County Supervisors Approve $15 Million for Affordable Housing

The preservation and creation of affordable housing has been a longstanding goal of both Los Angeles County and many of its 88 cities, but the demise of redevelopment agencies delivered a blow to low-income residents struggling in one of the nation’s most difficult housing markets.

On March 5, 2013, acting on a joint motion by Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Gloria Molina, the Board of Supervisors unanimously reaffirmed the county’s commitment to providing permanent housing for low-income residents.  The Supervisors transferred $15 million to the Community Development Corporation for affordable housing in Los Angeles County.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas had urged the board to set aside $75 million for five years, $15 million of which would be allocated this year.  However, because of the uncertainties of economy and potential budget issues, the Board members voted to decide about allocating the remaining $60 million until the annual budget process.

Supervisors Molina and Ridley-Thomas urged the balance of the board to dedicate the total amount available to affordable housing.

“I am advocating for and committed to affordable housing having top priority consideration for the use of these resources,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “On any given night in Los Angeles County, over 50,000 homeless individuals live on the streets. The majority have untreated illnesses or disabilities, so affordable housing can and must be the priority. It has implications for our communities and workforce dynamics.”

“I think what’s important is that this is not money that should be allocated in a different direction. I’m hoping we’re not going to layer this with all kind of other competing interests,” said Supervisor Molina.  Affordable housing advocates cheered passage of the motion, noting the significant challenges they face since the dissolution of redevelopment agencies.

Representatives from 15 organizations testified in support of the Motion by Supervisors Molina and Ridley-Thomas, including Century Housing, Corporation for Supportive Housing, for-profit and not-for profit developers Abode Communities, A Community of Friends,  American Communities,  the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Hollywood CHC, LINC Housing, New Directions, Palm Communities, Thomas Safran & Associates, West Hollywood CHC, the City of Pasadena, and the Executive Directors of SCANPH and Shelter Partnership.

This action follows the October 2012 commitment when, in response to a joint motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, the Board unanimously approved $11 million in funding for affordable housing projects that is expected to result in approximately 176 new units.

This places Los Angeles County right behind the City and County of San Francisco in dedicating ‘boomerang’ funds made available by the dissolution of redevelopment agencies to continued funding of affordable housing.

Positive First Steps for Affordable Housing in Culver City

Assemblymember Holly Mitchell joined Mayor Andy Weissman and a well-rounded panel of housing developers (Los Angeles Housing Partnership and Habitat for Humanity), investors (Bank of America and Union Bank), and other leading advocates at the Culver City Council Chambers at last week’s Affordable Housing Roundtable. The first such event hosted in Culver City generated a lively discussion with local residents and community leaders contributing great questions and possible solutions to financial and legislative roadblocks.

Topics included creative ways for replacing funds for the $8 million in annual investment lost with the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies, project versus tenant based Section 8 vouchers, and parcel size, density, and parking restrictions as major hindrances to large scale development. The panelists and participating residents were optimistic about the future of affordable housing in Culver City, with current developments such as Tilden Terrace, Globe Avenue, and Irving Place paving the way for more robust investments.

“We are looking to legislators to recreate a vehicle to help support affordable housing,” said Mayor Andy Weissman in addressing ways to offset the loss of redevelopment dollars. Given the energy and commitment on display at the event, projects such as Del Rey Square in development just down the street from the City Hall may be a real possibility for Culver City veterans, seniors, and other low-income residents.

Learn how you can help support affordable housing with the California Homes and Jobs Act.

Read more about the Roundtable in Kelly Hartog’s post on the Culver City Patch, which contains a link to a PDF summary of current affordable projects in Culver City.