What is the Housing Endowment And Regional Trust?

HEART is a housing trust fund, a vehicle to finance the construction and rehabilitation of homes affordable to our middle– and low–income workforce, as well as our seniors and other fixed-income residents.

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Are there Housing Trust Funds in other jurisdictions?

Yes, there are over 450 housing trust funds across the nation. Housing trusts are commonly formed at the state, county, and city levels–especially in response to the federal government’s decreasing support for housing in proportion to the need. The State of California has a state housing trust, and housing trusts exist in Alameda, Napa, Sacramento, and Santa Clara Counties. More than a dozen housing trusts exist at the city level. HEART is one of a very few housing trusts structured as a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), a method by which local governments can cooperate. Nationwide, it is one of just a handful of collaborative ventures between cities and a county.

How do cities benefit from being part of a regional approach to housing?

A regional approach will ensure those dedicated to resolving housing needs are able to reduce redundancies, pursue new funds, and share resources. San Mateo County has a history of success in developing regional solutions to a variety of issues, from the Measure A sales tax to fund transportation projects to emergency response, from water treatment to mosquito abatement. Now, HEART facilitates housing production throughout the county.

How broad is the support for the Joint Powers Authority among other cities?

Currently all cities and the County of San Mateo have joined the Joint Powers Authority.


Why create more housing?

Despite recent changes in the housing market, there is still a housing crisis in San Mateo County, especially for low- to moderate-income employees of local businesses as well as fixed-income seniors and disabled persons. The number of available housing units has fallen far below what is needed for our workforce, retirees and recent graduates. Over the next 10 years, only 21,000 units of housing are expected to be built, while the County estimates that 42,000 units will be needed.

Housing is one of the essential elements of any local economy. Its construction creates jobs and increases property values. An adequate supply is necessary for a balanced economy. Too few homes are being created in San Mateo County to meet the demand. This results in long commutes, congested freeways, and difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality employees. Not only businesses are affected. Key personnel such as police officers, firefighters, nurses, teachers, and childcare workers must live far from their workplaces. Young people are too often forced to live with their parents or move far from home.

What does a housing trust fund do for San Mateo County?

HEART’s structure encourages a collaborative approach among the cities, the County, nonprofits, the private sector, and the community at large. HEART coordinates financial resources of public and private sector entities that want to play a role in meeting the critical, regional need for affordable housing. Housing trusts have the ability to pursue multiple strategies to access new funds for housing, leverage funds over the long term, and provide a secure funding source for ongoing affordable housing development.


How was HEART formed?

In 2002, a broad-based group of individuals from throughout the county explored the formation of a trust fund as a source of capital for additional workforce housing in the county. The group recommended the formation of a housing trust fund to raise money from public and private sources. HEART was formed as a Joint Powers Authority in 2003.

Who runs HEART and how is it organized?

All cities and the County of San Mateo have established HEART as a collaborative, public/private venture. It is structured as a joint powers authority and is governed by a public/private board of directors with 21 members. Eleven are elected officials, including nine city council members and two County Supervisors. Private sector directors hold ten seats at large on the board. All directors have three-year terms.

Is HEART a new bureaucracy or layer of government?

No. HEART’s purpose is to access revenue streams and make new funds available for accessible, affordable housing development. To keep administrative costs to a minimum, daily management of the joint powers authority has been contracted to the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, a nonprofit community-based organization, and the County of San Mateo Department of Housing. These two entities support and implement board recommendations.

Why are there 10 private-sector Board members on the joint powers authority board?

A diverse, professional and collaborative decision-making body enhances and strengthens existing community support for affordable housing development. At-large representation from the private sector helps the board to draw technical assistance, donations, and resources from a wide field. The public/private nature of HEART is also attractive to funders.

Who determines who sits on the joint powers authority board?

The City Selection Committee of the Council of Cities determines the city membership of the Joint Powers Authority Board. Representatives from the member cities of the Joint Powers Authority are considered for three-year terms. At-large members are elected by the full Board.


What financial commitment do joint powers authority board member cities make?

Member cities are asked to share in the annual operational costs only. These costs are kept to a minimum through the use of contract staffing and administration and are approved by the board annually. The amount required from of each member is proportional to the population of the jurisdiction.

How much has HEART raised so far?

HEART has received gifts and pledges totaling over $12 million dollars. The County of San Mateo committed $3 million in seed money to kick off the endowment. That initial investment attracted a matching grant of $2 million from the State of California through Proposition 46 housing bond funds set aside for new housing trust funds. Other major donors and investors include Wells Fargo Bank, Genentech, California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), the Examiner newspaper, and the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, among many others. See our Donors page for a full list.

How will the capital for projects be raised?

The specific mechanism for raising funds will reflect the public/private nature of HEART. HEART’s initial capitalization raised $5 million from the county and the state. HEART has raisied $3 million from the private sector through our campaign, Opening Doors in Our Community. HEART is also planning for long-term sustainability, which will include efforts to secure a continued source of income for HEART annually from public and private sources. Finally, Leveraging of Public-Private Funds will ensure maximum use of HEART dollars, possibly through use of incentives to leverage available funds.


Will HEART dictate housing policy and planning to cities?

No. HEART is designed to support and finance the projects and plans that the cities choose for their jurisdictions. HEART has no authority over the activities within the jurisdictions of any member agency. HEART is not a policy or planning entity; rather, its mission is to provide funds for housing development and construction.