By Dakota Morlan
Danielle Foster is the new executive director for the Capitol Area Development Authority, a joint powers authority created by the City of Sacramento and the State of California to provide focused community development and reinvestment within the city. Foster began the job in early February, replacing Wendy Saunders, who retired at the end of 2022.
Foster has spent more than 20 years working in housing policy at the local government level in the Sacramento region. When she first started college at UC Davis, Foster wanted to pursue a career in medicine so she could “help people,” but soon realized she could also do that through community and regional development.
During an internship, she inspected affordable senior housing units and was overwhelmed with gratitude from seniors on a fixed income. “It just struck me how important — how critical — housing is to all of us,” Foster says.
Solving Sacramento recently spoke with Foster about her move to CADA and its work to improve affordable housing in the region.
Tell me about your organization and how it relates to Sacramento’s housing crisis and the need for more affordable housing?
[CADA does] focused community development and reinvestment work in areas around the city — around the state capitol, R Street, downtown and Midtown areas — to provide a variety of housing types and affordability levels, and really just look at the overall livability and strength of the neighborhoods and support them through reinvestment and construction. …
It’s really just thinking about neighborhoods overall and providing both housing and commercial opportunities that strengthen the overall character and livability of a neighborhood, including a range of rent levels and affordability, and trying to create new models and create a solution in partnership with our nonprofit and for-profit partners.
What do you see as the major factors driving the housing crisis in the Sacramento region?
[There’s been] a major shift in folks relocating to Sacramento. We know that, as part of the pandemic and the ability of people to work from home, we saw a lot of migration from the west … with folks coming for lower housing costs and more open space, more housing space.
We’ve seen dramatic increases in the median income for our area. We saw a 12% increase between 2021 and 2022, which is about four times what we typically see for our area, and we know a lot of that was in large part due to the interest and the desire to live here. So there’s a need for more housing and more types of housing, and there’s definitely a higher demand on the existing housing stock.