Guest Commentary: Davis Housing – How You Can Help

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by Georgina Valencia, Vera Sandronsky, Bapu Vaitla and Don Kalman

The city of Davis, like cities throughout California and the country, has long recognized that lack of affordable housing is a huge problem. Inadequate housing leads to unemployment, illness, and other costs for individuals, families, and for the entire community.

The Housing Trust Fund

The city of Davis currently has a Housing Trust Fund (HTF) with limited revenues to fund a variety of housing needs. Examples of housing needs that the HTF has funded include the repair and maintenance of Twin Pines and Pacifico, existing affordable rental housing developments, and BerryBridge, an existing affordable for sale housing development.

Davis makes decisions for the HTF in response to specific needs, but this approach has its limitations. For example, Community Development Block Grant money was allocated for affordable housing at the Cannery, but because Davis did not have a mechanism for reallocating these funds, $1,000,000 was lost. Another example is the development agreement for Grande Village in North Davis that required affordable housing to be offered first to DJUSD teachers and staff. There were several teachers who qualified for a monthly mortgage, but they did not have the funds for the down payment. Davis has no program or funds to help them. During the Covid-19 pandemic, some households have been at risk of losing their rental housing. The HTF does not have monies for vouchers to subsidize rental payments, another tool that could be used to support housing needs in our community.

The Housing Element

The purpose of the Housing Element, which is part of the Davis General Plan, is to establish the community’s priorities around housing. The Housing Element Committee – whose appointed members include individuals on city commissions, city staff and consultants – has been provided the draft HTF [link to View the draft HTF] as input for the Housing Element of the Davis General Plan. The Housing Element Committee voted to include the draft HTF, developed by the Social Services Commission (SSC), as an addition to the Housing Element. The next opportunity for the public to comment on the Housing Element will be during the 60-day review that starts Monday, May 3rd [link to the draft Housing Element] and [link to staff letter on review process]. This 60-day public review is the community’s only opportunity to provide comments prior to the City submitting the Housing Element to California’s Housing and Community Development Agency for approval. Without community input there will be no real representation of what the community wants to see as priorities in housing.

Residents of Davis can make a significant contribution to addressing the community’s housing issues by sending in public comments in support of the draft HTF to HEC@cityofdavis.org. An example of what can be stated in an email or phone in comments is provided here [link to sample comments].

Progress towards Solutions

The objective of the draft HTF, proposed by the SSC and to be presented to the Davis City Council, is to sustain housing programs the community identifies as important. The draft HTF describes housing needs as a continuum to support three groups: the unhoused, renters, and buyers. The draft HTF also recommends an allocation process for programs to address the housing needs of these three groups. In addition, the draft HTF identifies revenue sources for growing the HTF.

You can help solve the housing problem in Davis by doing the following:

1. Making donations for specific uses, such as increasing emergency non-congregate (individuals housed separately) shelter capacity, funding down payments for first-time home buyers, and developing a website to offer a centralized source of information for affordable housing applications. [link to Housing Trust Fund Donations]

You can also make public comments by emails and phone calls for the meetings listed below [link to sample comments].

2. Emailing your comments prior to the Housing Element meeting on May 20 at 6:00 pm to jlynch@cityofdavis.org and HEC@cityofdavis.org

3. Emailing your comments prior to Planning Commission meeting on May 26at 7:00 pm to PlanningCommission@cityofdavis.org.

Phoning in your comments to the Planning Commission on May 26 between 12 pm and 6 pm to the Public Comment Line, 530-757-5693 [refer to the agenda at PlanningCommission for additional information on the meeting.]

4. Emailing your comments prior to City Council meeting on June 15 at 7:00 pm to citycouncilmembers@cityofdavis.org.

Phoning in your comments to the City Council meeting on June 15between 12 pm and 6 pm to the Public Comment Line, 530-757-5693 [refer to the agenda at CityCouncilAgenda for additional information on the meeting].

5. Emailing your comments prior to the Social Services Commission meeting on May 17 at 7:00 pm to SSC@cityofdavis.org.

Phoning in your comments to the Social Services Commission on May 17between 12 pm and 6 pm to the Public Comment Line, 530-757-5693 [refer to the agenda at SocialServicesCommissionfor additional information on the meeting.]

6. Sharing this call to action through your email contacts and social media.
All four are residents of Davis. Bapu Vaitla is chair of the Social Services Commission. Georgina Valencia and Donald Kalman are regular members.

 

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2 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Davis Housing – How You Can Help”

  1. Richard_McCann

    I see the Housing Element workshop conflicts with the Climate Action Plan workshop on resilience and equity. Given that these target the same audience, this is problematic.

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