Letters to the Editor

In defense of Treasurer John Chiang’s affordable housing record

John Chiang

Re “John Chiang helped award millions in tax breaks to his developer donors” Page 1A, Aug. 13): As directors of the committees mentioned in the article about Treasurer John Chiang, we seek to set the record straight on how our committees award public resources for affordable housing. The awarding of benefits is not a beauty contest decided subjectively by the treasurer but rather a math computation. It’s a transparent process governed by eligibility criteria and a point scoring system based on how much bang we get for every public dollar. The scoring is done by independent staff. During the last two and a half years, not one staff recommendation was altered by the treasurer. The treasurer is one vote on a 3-member board. One of the donors featured in the article recently was disqualified from competition for six months for failing to build a promised children’s playground. We take pride in the integrity of our programs and are saddened by the unsubstantiated innuendo in your article.

Laura Whittall-Scherfee and Mark Stivers, Sacramento

Needed housing

Developers do not pursue affordable housing projects out of the goodness of their hearts. The Legislature understood the need to incentivize the private sector to provide affordable housing, and created the tax credit program overseen by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Treasurer John Chiang cannot direct tax credits to individual projects. There are 91 pages of regulations that dictate how projects qualify for the credits, how they are applied for, how projects are objectively scored, and the various responsibilities for carrying out allocation of tax credits and ensuring compliance with the program’s rules. I’m sure affordable housing developers appreciate Chiang’s enthusiasm for tackling the lack of affordable housing. But there is no cause and effect evidence between the committee’s allocations and donations made to Chiang’s gubernatorial campaign committee. Similarly, because a recycling company made three small contributions to Chiang's campaign coffers during a seven year period, and apparently none since 2014, does not prove that is why it was among multiple companies approved for bond financing from another board that Chiang chairs. As the treasurer, who must also raise campaign funds, Chiang is an easy target for attacks.

Julie Horenstein, Sacramento

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