Bright and Bold Future Housing Plans for the Bay Area

By Gabriella Garcia 

BAY AREA — On Oct. 7, the Non-Profit Housing Association (NPH) of Northern California held a meeting with the Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin to introduce their new “The Road Ahead” report and discuss comprehensive plans towards providing the Bay Area with more affordable housing.  

With a population of nearly 7.8 million, the nine-county Bay Area has a severe homeless problem. The Bay Area Economic Institute found that 28,200 people are experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area—third only to New York City (76,500) and Los Angeles (55,200). The report also concluded that 70 percent of the homeless population in the Bay Area resides in three counties: Santa Clara, San Francisco and Alameda. 

Partnered with the NPH, Mayor Arreguín is currently working on implementing new policies to increase access to affordable housing for the low-income residents in the Bay Area. 

“Keeping people housed, preventing homelessness, creating new affordable homes, and the jobs that involve these affordable homes—that’s a critical piece in our economic recovery [out of Covid-19]”, stated Arreguín, who is also president of the Association of the Bay Area Government. This plan includes what he calls “the 3 P’s”: protection of existing tenants, preservation of housing and production of new affordable housing. 

In response to the Bay Area’s need for affordable housing, Policy Manager of the NPH Rodney Nickens explained, “69% of low-income households in the Bay Area are housing cost-burdened [tenets] and 4 million California renters are on the verge of eviction.” 

Racial discrimination and injustice is a prominent issue in low-income communities, especially for people of color. “At only 6.5% of the state’s population, our African-American community is bearing the brunt of our state’s homelessness crisis… black residents represent 40% of the state’s unhoused population,” Nickens said. 

In coordination with UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge found that during Covid-19, Black and Latino renters are “more than twice as likely as whites to be experiencing rent-related hardships.” Minority renters are more likely to be suffering economically during the pandemic, because they are disproportionately more concentrated in the low-income and lower-education brackets, and entered the crisis with fewer financial and human capital resources.  

With the end of the CDC’s moratorium on evictions, Nickens says this is the “opportunity to choose a different path.”

While both NPH and Arreguín believe this is a regional issue that requires a regional and local approach, polls show that residents feel the same.  

“79% of [Bay Area] voters identify affordable housing as the  number 1 funding priority for the region” and “75% support a regional approach,” Nickens revealed. 

NPH’s “The Road Ahead” plan includes the Plan Bay Area 2050, “a long-range regional plan… which will direct the appropriations of bills of transportation investments over the next decade, while helping cities and counties identify where to locate growth, new homes, and jobs.” 

Moreover, the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process requires the region to “plan for future housing needs for the next eight years, while designing strategies to address existing housing affordability, patterns of residential segregation, and exclusionary zoning practices.” 

Nickens also calls on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and ABAG to “expand a housing portfolio,” stating, “We need that to better define the roles of ABAG and MTC, as well as the Bay Area Housing Financing Authority.”

MTC is currently evaluating programs like the One Bay Area Grant Program and the Priority Development Area Program, according to Nickens, to determine “how to refine these programs to better align more robust housing outcomes.” 

More equitable access to public transportation is a key element in reducing housing inequality and income segregation. In 2017, the National Academies Press found that transportation costs are a barrier to mobility for households in poverty, disproportionately represented by African Americans and Hispanics. Moreover, long commutes and high transportation costs are significant barriers to employment and financial stability.

As a means to provide equitable access to both housing and transportation, NPH proposes three policy recommendations. “Our big proposal is to go all in,” Nickens declared. “In our paper, we […] provide concrete recommendations on what [the 3 P’s] would look like in practice and specific strategies on how we operationalize this approach.” 

Part of the Road Ahead’s plan includes preserving 30,000 affordable homes before 2025 (86% market-rate, 14% at-risk/deed-restricted); supply technical assistance so local jurisdiction can implement demolition controls, relocation assistance and 1-1 replacement requirements (SB 330); create minimum standards and incentivize cities/counties to ask impacted residents where preservation is most needed; producing 35,000 homes a year (40% lower-incomes, 20% moderate, 40% market-rate); building transit villages in communities experiencing the most growth.

“Housing justice is racial justice”, Nickens asserted. “We have the tools that we need to break down the barriers of exclusion and displacement, we do so by building affordable housing throughout the regions—especially in our region’s exclusionary, whiter, suburban jurisdictions.”


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15 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Meanwhile, the following topic has been recently reported in multiple media sources (including the two examples below).

    San Francisco apartment rents plunge as much as 31%, the biggest drop in the US, while parts Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas see soaring demand

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8835743/San-Francisco-apartment-rents-fall-31-biggest-drop-US.html

    https://distincttoday.net/2020/10/13/san-francisco-apartment-rents-fall-up-to-31-the-biggest-drop-in-the-us/

    1. Ron Oertel

      Also noticed the following, in the first link above:

      Violent crime has also soared in that city and many others, with murders up 42 percent so far this year in San Francisco compared to the same period last year, according to SFPD data.

      Though it seems the primary reason is due to Covid / telecommuting opportunities.

      There’s tons of articles regarding people moving to the suburbs or to “nice” locations such as Tahoe, as a result. Napa and Sonoma areas, as well – though the fires are also causing some existing residents to rethink that.

      In any case, the trend is toward larger houses (since they now have to function as “workspaces”), and less-dense areas.

       

          1. David Greenwald

            SF’s murder rate this year is 5 per 100,000. Around 50th in the country. Behind even Sacramento and LA (7.7) and way behind places like St. Louis (90), Baltimore (55) Detroit (47).

        1. Ron Oertel

          Wealthy places tend to have less crime, though I understand that property crime is pretty high in San Francisco.

          I suspect that crime (of all types), homelessness, crowding, protests, and expense causes many to jump at an opportunity to leave (e.g., one such opportunity being the rise of telecommuting).

           

        2. David Greenwald

          Not sure why you decided to jump on this riff.  But in my view, looking at micro trends in crime is not helpful.  I suggest looking at five years of data, it smooths out the blips.  When you are at a 60 year low, a small increase is going to look bigger than it really is and it may not mean a whole lot.

        3. Ron Oertel

          It was just something I noticed, in the article I posted.

          Personally, I think the “jury is still out” regarding the effort to defund the police, shut down the criminal justice system, and replace it with roving psychologists. 

          (Again, just exaggerating/kidding – sort of.)

          But getting back to the primary point, places like Nevada and Texas are becoming more “blue” as a result of all the ex-Californians moving to and living in those places. I was just reading an article the other day, which noted the possible impact of that on the presidential race.

          And of course, lots of Bay Area people are also moving to the Sacramento region (including Davis). Ironically, bringing some of the same problems that they were trying to escape from.

           

  2. Ron Glick

    The supposition of Ron O’s post is that there is a link between housing poor people and crime. This fits the mouse utopia model perfectly. First the mice establish territory then you get an increase in asocial behavior. Its all so lower brain.

    1. Ron Oertel

      So, here’s what I said which apparently generated the response from you:

      Me: “Wealthy places tend to have less crime, though I understand that property crime is pretty high in San Francisco.”

      Pretty weak attempt at discrediting me, on your part.  You’re a more talented writer than what you’re exhibiting in this example.

      One thing I have noticed is that the “two Ron’s” on here generally have pretty good writing skills, despite being polar opposites on development. 😉

  3. Ron Oertel

    So, here’s another link – this time to a video.  It’s not just San Francisco.

    No, I wasn’t even searching for any of these articles/videos.  But, it’s pretty tough to purposefully ignore this trend when they’re on multiple Internet news sources.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/peopleandplaces/expensive-city-exodus-leads-to-massive-rent-declines-in-nyc-san-francisco/vi-BB19ZH7Z

    There’s your story, much more than trying to cram in folks in locations where they no longer need to be. This appears to be a rather significant and permanent shift, for white-collar workers at least.

    Technology often brings about societal changes, sometimes in unexpected ways. (This one might have been predictable, but “kick-started” by Covid.)

  4. Ron Oertel

    Yeap – a lot of your “bright and bold housing plans for the Bay Area are in the Tahoe area:

    Landing Locals fields a lot of queries from Bay Area residents wanting to move to Tahoe. One person wrote on their rental application that she worked at Uber, her spouse worked at Google, they had a combined income of $550,000 and they owned an award-winning poodle, Frolich told me. They said they would pay a year’s worth of rent up front — plus $1,000 more than the asking price.

    “I was like, god damn it,” Frolich said. He wrote the woman back and said their company prioritizes finding rentals for Truckee and Tahoe residents.

    https://www.sfgate.com/renotahoe/article/bay-area-transients-bring-housing-crisis-tahoe-15640932.php

    (You’d think that the “award-winning poodle” might have been the clincher, but apparently not. But, there are a lot of second homes that this company is focusing on, if their owners are willing to rent them out. Check out the $3,000 incentive from the city of Truckee to house “locals”, described in this article.)

    As a side note, I’m guessing that this woman is not an Uber “driver”, unless her spouse is bringing in the majority of that income.

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