Social Impact Bond Program
The Richmond Housing Renovation Program, and its social impact bond financing, continues to gain attention as an effective blight strategy. Most recently, the Richmond Community Foundation led a workshop and tour for the international Meeting of the Minds Conference, with program partners John Knox, Partner with Orrick, Herrington, Sutcliffe, LLP; Tim Higares, Director of Infrastructure and Maintenance Operations for the City of Richmond; and Russell Watts, Contra Costa County Treasurer and Tax Collector. The workshop and tour provided an in-depth look at the creation of the social impact bond, the impact of blighted properties on the community, and the challenges faced by the partners in acquiring these properties. Meeting of the Minds is the premier conference for urban sustainability professionals in North America. It is a global thought leadership and knowledge sharing network and took place this year at Richmond's Craneway Pavilion.
The Richmond Community Foundation also hosted students from Richmond High School's Engineering Academy, who spent a day learning about the program and then working with the program's construction team to learn how to evaluate properties for acquisition
So far the program has acquired five properties representing some of the most blighted properties the city's Code Enforcement Department has to deal with. Two of the properties have been rehabilitated; one of these was successfully sold to a first-time home buyer and the other is now available for sale. The other three properties are being demolished and new homes will be built on these sites. In cases where the property cannot be preserved and is demolished, the foundation has chosen to use a new construction product called GigaCrete; this product reduces the cost of new construction by almost 50% and is highly energy efficient.
RCF is also moving six properties through the probate process and preparing to purchase additional properties, which are in tax default, through a process called a Chapter 8 Sale. If successful, this will be the first Chapter 8 Sale in Contra Costa County. The foundation also continues to pursue properties by negotiating directly with property owners.
By the end of this year, the project anticipates having acquired 12 properties.