Good afternoon members of the board.
My name is Andrea Leon-Grossmann, climate action director of Azul, an environmental justice organization.
California is having the worst housing affordability crisis in its history and we need every tool to build the affordable housing to address this crisis and ensure every unhoused Californian has a roof over their head.
It is well known that the CDLAC allocation has been oversubscribed over the last couple of years with more affordable housing projects needing the allocation than ever before. We must ensure that we allocate at least 95 percent of public bonds to such projects because not prioritizing affordable housing hurts the most vulnerable, first and foremost.
The Huntington Beach Poseidon desalination plant is interested in $1.1 billion dollars, which is more than a quarter of the typical year’s allocation. That could mean a loss of around a $2 billion dollar financing of affordable housing once the federal subsidy money is factored in.
Your obligation as a government agency is to ensure public benefit, not the viability of a project that can very well be financed by the for-profit company behind it, Brookfield, a $650 billion dollar asset management firm. To that point, I think we are overdue for a rating system that scores every project based on public benefit, including but not limited to sustainability, energy requirements, climate change mitigation, impacts on vulnerable populations identified using the CalEnviroScreen, job creation that includes any additional subsidies that increase the allocation and transparency, and other important metrics. This would provide a transparent methodology for the public to understand and comment on. Allocation without such a system is rife for politicization and actions taken by officials that are not in the public interest. We should implement a fair scoring system immediately and before the decision on Poseidon moves forward.
The California Pollution Control Financing Authority is supposed to allocate bonds to decontaminate sites for affordable housing or to clean polluted waterways, not give those bonds to a massive corporation that has publicly acknowledged it would pollute to the tune of 50 million gallons of toxic brine and chemicals every single day into the ocean for the next 50 years!
CDLAC must undertake a more robust tribal consultation and environmental justice analysis before allocating any bonds to specific projects. It is CDLAC’s obligation to make good by tribal communities, communities of color, and low income communities that will be affected by the decision to site another dirty facility nearby.
Poseidon might own an army of lobbyists advocating for the $1.1 billion dollar allocation, but the unhoused are unable to afford half a lobbyist. That is why we are here today — pleading with you — to protect funding for affordable housing as a human right AND to protect water, the most essential of elements, as a human right, not a commodity for corporations to control.