OCBC Workforce Housing Committee Hosts CA Housing and Community Development

OCBC’s Workforce Housing Committee hosted CA Housing and Community Development Director Gustavo Velazquez on Thursday, June 25. Director Velasquez was appointed in May 2020 and is new to CA. OC leaders in business and housing briefed Director Velasquez on the region’s housing priorities, including how to reconcile differences between state housing and climate goals.  

HCD Director Gustavo Velazquez shared his vision for formulating HCD into a responsive and efficient streamlined operation, with the goal of working closely with legislators on important policy issues while strengthening partnerships with stakeholders and advocacy groups. HCD and many other state agencies are currently focused on strategies to mitigate COVID-19, including Project Room Key (to be renamed Project Home Key), a program acquiring hotel and motel rooms to house homeless individuals. Once the state is no longer in emergency response mode, he hopes to return to focusing on HCD’s pre-coronavirus priorities.

 Meeting attendees asked the Director about how to resolve the tension between state housing and climate goals, to which he replied that state policies must be consistent with all of CA’s values and not exacerbate other challenges. Increasing housing around transit and jobs allows for shorter commutes between home and work. However, participants also mentioned that the advent of telecommuting is another avenue for limiting long commutes—something that Director Velasquez expressed interest in, should the climate impacts of telecommuting receive more research. OCBC leaders also informed the Director on the incompatibility between SCAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy and Regional Housing Needs Assessment, the urgent need for the state to delay incoming vehicle miles traveled regulations that will increase housing costs, and how private, nonprofit housing trusts are barred by current HCD guidelines from receiving matching funds from the state.

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