Affordable Housing-Who Should Pay? My Spoapbox, My Opinion-The Cities and County Should Pay!
I attended a seminar last Thursday on Affordable Housing Incentives For Builders Workshop. No adopted incentives were presented, just a big question as to “who will subsidize affordable housing (defined as housing that requires less than 30% of your gross income) . Oh-by the way, subsidizing housing is estimated to cost between $80,000 and $100,000 per UNIT!
I understand that it costs a lot to live in Sonoma County. I also understand that wages in Sonoma County are not keeping pace with the cost of living here. To “punctuate” that problem, Linda Mandolini (guest speaker from Eden Housing), put up a slide that showed what percentage of gross income was needed for transportation plus housing costs. Check these numbers out:
Sonoma County 83%
Washington D.C. 78%
San Francisco 59%
Los Angeles 56%
New York City 43%
Now, admittedly, we are skewed because salaries in Sonoma County are woefully short of salaries in any of the other locales. But the illustration is provocative, alarming, and horrifying all at once. Is Sonoma County becoming, or has it become, a place where you can only make it if you are already owning a residence? If so, that is not healthy for any of us.
We all have heard that our young people graduating from Marin County Colleges and Sonoma County Colleges are choosing to live elsewhere (this phenomenon is referred to as “brain drain”). Let’s say you are starting a business or own a firm that has a chance to operate in Sonoma or Marin County, and you need young talent to fill your employee needs. Will you choose Sonoma County? Why would you?
In today’s (3-9-15) local paper, there is an article on a long dormant housing project on Sebastopol Road Link
that is now approved to start building houses. Yet-the planning department approved it as did the City Council, by allowing the developer to eliminate nearly all of the affordable housing units in an earlier design, and allowing the developer to pay “in lieu” fees of some $700,000 instead. Based on this development, just how committed the City of Santa Rosa is in developing “Affordable Housing” units? Not!
At last week’s seminar, our friend Tennis Wick at Sonoma County PRMD asked why builders were not building the 10,058 “Approved But Not Yet Built” housing starts? The answer my friend, is that housing developers are not going to build something that they will lose money on.
Here is my 2 cents worth. Instead of the Cities and Counties looking for a revenue source to fund affordable housing subsidies, how about cutting the fees to build those affordable housing units PLUS giving the developer the land to build on? Now you are talking! And here is my rhetorical question to our City officials-“WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING THAT?”
And my ECA friends, this is important to all of you for several reasons:
- Businesses need workers to be available in order to want to move or stay here
- We need entry level housing starts so those buyers can then move up and buy better housing in several years
- We need to do something about homelessness rather than adding to the problem
- Healthy communities have housing available for all sectors-we do not have that.
Thanks for reading my soapbox!
That’s All Folks!