Green Party candidate says tax credit system is flawed

spurs cutthroat developers

March 14, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Peter Camejo thinks there should be a change in the tax credit system that developers use to build affordable housing throughout the state.

The Green Party candidate for governor said just a few slight tweaks would eliminate the cutthroat competitive process that has a few rival developers competing for millions in tax credits.

On a recent trip to Calexico, Camejo saw firsthand the construction that has been financed by a tax credit system he considers flawed.


It's not enough, he said.

"There is a terrible shortage of affordable housing," he said.

To spur even more construction, Camejo thinks the federal government should increase the tax credits available. That would help start construction on more homes and apartments and lessen the battle among a few big developers for scarce credits.

Camejo thinks, "Democrats and Republicans have set up at the system at the behest of what the large corporations want."

Alpine-based housing consultant Barry Garman said the system is a lot better than the previous one.

He said when the federal government was mainly responsible for financing affordable housing, the "projects" that were created were some of the most unlivable, crime-ridden places in America.

In the mid-1980s, people were saying, "We have to find something else that will work. Let's get the private guys into this deal," he said.

Garman said the private-sector did a great job building complexes because of the rigorous inspections to which each developer was subjected. If a private-sector complex didn't pass inspection, it didn't get its tax credits.

"The finest units are the tax credit deals because the guys are on the hook," Garman said.

As for Camejo's contention that only a few companies are getting rich on the tax credit deals, Garman said, "What if the company doesn't make any money? If they don't make any money it's too bad. That's economic risk."

Camejo agreed there is risk involved even for the biggest companies, but he said the government could eliminate that risk by capping profits at 6 or 10 percent and making sure all developers big or small are able to make at least a small profit on the investment.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles