How Can We Fund Below Market Rate Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents in the Region? | Invest & Innovate | Steve Levy | Mountain View Online |

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By Steve Levy

How Can We Fund Below Market Rate Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents in the Region?

Uploaded: May 13, 2019

Most residents agree that the greatest housing shortages are with below market rate housing reserved for low and low/moderate income residents. This is true even among residents who have differing views on other aspects of housing supply and affordability.

But throughout the region, not just on the peninsula, these subsidized housing units are expensive to build and as a region we face a huge funding shortage. As a result many eligible residents have waited and are waiting several years for housing assistance that they qualify for in terms of their income.

The Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) has a proposal for an “everyone should chip in” set of funding sources. The proposal would be for a set of funding sources that would be voted on and applied across the region.

The rationale for a shared or collective funding solution is that we all “hire” low wage workers through our spending. I will share my example, which I am pretty sure applies to most residents.
--we eat out and buy food at places that all employ low wage workers
--we shop at places that employ low wage workers
--We and most residents in our building shop online and indirectly “hire” low wage workers.
--Our condo building and many residents employ folks to clean
--I suspect that many if not most residents use commercial car wash facilities
--An increasing number of households need the services of in home care workers
--And there are many more examples
Our public and non-profit agencies employ low wage workers
And companies employ low wage workers both directly and indirectly

So here from CASA is what a shared/collective funding solution might look like to raise $1.5 billion a year.
--Part from property owners through either a vacant home or parcel tax
--Part from philanthropy
--Part from new development through some form of a linkage fee
--Part from employers through a gross receipts tax or head tax
--Part from local governments through sharing in property tax growth
--Part from residents through a regionwide sales tax and from a new regionwide bond

There will be ongoing negotiations about the shares funded by employers and property owners versus the share from residents. A number of philanthropic organizations have already pledged funds and this may be the easiest part though it will come through voluntary initiatives on the part of companies and philanthropies.

I like the CASA funding framework because it establishes key principles:
--there is a really large funding need
--we all use the services of low wage workers
--we all should share in the funding

I hope regional decision makers and residents can reach a shared funding solution that can get approved by voters throughout the region so we can begin to reduce the human distress caused by our failure to fund enough housing for eligible low and moderate income residents.

I hope this is one area in the many housing issues facing the region where people can come together so we can move forward.