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Lift to Rise releases two-year plan to bring thousands of additional affordable housing units to the Coachella Valley

Lift to Rise releases two-year plan to bring thousands of additional affordable housing units to the Coachella Valley

Lift to Rise and its roughly 75 community partners on Wednesday released their latest plan to increase affordable housing in the Coachella Valley and continue the progress made since 2018 when they began a 10-year push to significantly reduce the number of rent-burdened local households through the production of 10,000 new affordable housing units.

The 2024-26 Action Plan is the result of more than six months of community outreach and conversations among the partners that make up Lift to Rise’s Housing Collaborative Action Network (CAN). The plan outlines goals that build upon the tangible results from the group’s previous action plans – released every two years since 2018 – and offers ways for anyone – residents, housing developers, local governments staffers, elected officials, businesses, or nonprofits – to be a part of bringing more affordable housing to the area and create a future where all Coachella Valley families ae healthy, stable, and thriving.

“The strategic vision outlined in this new Action Plan shows how Lift to Rise partners continue to adapt their approach to reflect community priorities and use innovative solutions to increase affordable housing production,” said Mike Walsh, assistant director of the Riverside County Department of Housing and Workforce Solutions and co-chair of the Housing CAN. “Riverside County, all nine Coachella Valley cities, housing developers, nonprofits, and residents leading this work means that every major player in housing can contribute to long-term solutions that greatly improve the quality of life for county residents.”

Starting today and continuing through June, Lift to Rise and partners will present the Action Plan to the community and local leaders, including at the nine Coachella Valley city councils and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, and ask them to support its goals and strategies. The first presentation to a city council is Thursday, May 16, at 1:30 p.m. at Indian Wells City Hall, 44950 Eldorado Dr., Indian Wells.

In the past two years, the CAN’s collaborative effort has led to a dramatic increase in affordable housing production in the Coachella Valley: approximately 1,200 units in 2024, up from a yearly average of 38 units prior to 2018. Additionally, Lift to Rise launched the Affordable Housing Pipeline Portal, a publicly available online tool for mapping and tracking affordable housing development; grew We Lift: The Coachella Valley’s Housing Catalyst Fund to $44 million with $26 million in loan commitments; and partnered with local governments, state policymakers, and a growing network of engaged community members to advance affordable housing policies and projects.

To continue this progress, the new action plan sets a goal of reaching 7,500 new units of affordable housing for the Coachella Valley by 2026, with an emphasis on units connected to early childhood education services and improved health equity.

Creation of the Action Plan began in December with a series of community listening sessions held across the Coachella Valley. Residents had the opportunity to shape the Action Plan process by sharing their housing and economic experiences and frustrations. At the same time, Lift to Rise staff updated key demographic information and economic data to fully capture the local population, our recent results, and the hurdles standing in the way of building additional affordable housing.

Then in January, more than 70 partners from across the valley gathered for a two-day conversation on progress and challenges over the past two years and to name possible priorities and strategies for the next plan. Lift to Rise staff then conducted further analysis before partners reconvening in February to further define strategies and goals. The final plan was then drafted and approved by Lift to Rise’s board of directors ahead of the May release.

“The Action Plan is our roadmap for the next two years,” said Lift to Rise CEO and President Heather Vaikona. “We created it out of our continued commitment to a belief that we can achieve dramatic results that meet the scale of the challenges facing our community. Our motivation remains deep love and care for everyone in the Coachella Valley. All people need shelter, and we are striving to meet that need in every way we know possible.”

The 2024-26 Action Plan details six strategic focuses:

Pipeline: Encourage development by identifying 3,000 potential units a year that meet the criteria for the Affordable Housing Pipeline.
Funding: Address and implement solutions to solve the funding bottleneck occurring due to scarcity of low-income housing tax credits.
Policy advocacy: Move policy and regulations at the local, state, and federal level to enable more affordable housing development.
Infrastructure/Utilities: Work to ensure affordable housing opportunities are not limited by utilities or underdeveloped infrastructure.
Movement Building: Build greater public awareness and support for affordable housing in our region through strategic communications and resident leadership
Rapid Response: Advocate for and develop supports that help residents with emergency housing needs.

Along with sharing the Action Plan at upcoming government meetings, Lift to Rise will host an Action Plan Town Hall for the entire Coachella Valley community on Tuesday, June 25. Specific details will be announced later.

Read the complete 2024-26 Action Plan at lifttorise.org/actionplan.