GREAT NEWS! And we need it more than ever. Five critical affordable housing ballot measures are passing! Enterprise Community Partners in Northern California endorsed and supported all of them and we are proud of our partners.
Our Vice President and Market Leader Rich Gross and our Deputy Director Heather Hood talk about the significance of these victories, and how we can create and preserve enough affordable homes for all of the Bay Area’s residents.
Why are these ballot measure victories significant for the Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis?
RG: This is the first time the public throughout the Bay Area has not only talked about the housing crisis, but acted on it. Not only will there be $2 billion in new housing funds, but these measures will leverage many times that in private dollars. The combination of funds for new housing and preserving existing affordable housing is critical to protecting the diversity and vitality of our Bay Area neighborhoods
HH: With the ballot measures that deepen renters’ rights, or that will help mission-oriented developers purchase existing buildings to make homes permanently affordable – such as KK in Oakland – the region is putting in place the pieces of a comprehensive anti-displacement puzzle that will keep the region diverse and make room for long timers to stay here.
What message are voters sending to elected officials by passing these ballot measures?
RG: The message is that we have to do something about the crisis - and that the public is willing to pay something towards solving it. The fact that two-thirds of the people voted for this funding is huge!
HH: It means voters get it. “Affordable housing” is no longer an esoteric solution or worse, conflated with all kinds of dangerous things (many of which are fundamentally racist). It means voters see that affordable housing is where all kinds of people live in safe good-looking homes tucked into our cities. And voters want this mix of homes and people in their counties and cities.
What’s next for advocates working to solve the affordable housing crisis in the Bay Area?
RG: Now we have to go to the counties that haven’t passed bond measures and get them to join in. We also have to make sure that we spend the new funds well. It also makes sense to go to the private sector to match the public sector funding.
HH: The Bay Area has some of the most innovative architects and sophisticated, adaptable, mission-oriented developers in the country. We can help the developers identify available land and partners. And we can advocate for more public land policies, such as those emerging in cities, transit and school districts and other agencies throughout the region. For example, BART has already established a new policy that 20 percent of all homes built at their stations must be affordable. Others agencies are charting similar paths. This is huge, because it means the homes will be close to transit and keep many cars off the roads.
Even after all of this, we will still have long waiting lists for affordable homes. So we need to accelerate the construction of new homes. And in the big picture, we must turn our full attention to a permanent funding source at the state level: something that will be meaningful throughout the whole state, and get closer to touching the full extent of the need.
Thank you to all of the housing advocates and community partners who worked hard to pass these measures! Special congratulations to NPH, SV@Home, EBHO, the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo, the Committee to Protect Oakland Renters and all our partners that led these efforts.
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