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Zoe Siegel

Closing The Gap On Affordable Housing Finance

A proposed Bay Area Housing for All bond ballot measure would generate a new finance stream to close the financial gap for affordable housing in the region.

The Bay Area is facing an extreme housing crisis which burdens more than 45% of renters to spend over 30% of their income toward housing expenses, and a quarter spend over 50% of their income on housing. (US Census). The most recent Regional Housing Needs Allocation Plan from the State of California has determined that the Bay Area must supply an additional 180,000 affordable homes by 2031 to address the growing demand.

This housing crisis exacerbates the climate crisis, as displaced residents need to move farther from their jobs, communities, and resources, which results in more greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle-miles traveled, and strain on our natural resources. California produces only 14% of the affordable homes required to meet the need, so it’s clear the Bay Area needs more dedicated funding for affordable housing.

That’s why Greenbelt Alliance is proud to be a part of the Bay Area Housing For All Coalition (BAHA). This group is working on a 2024 ballot initiative that would create a $10-$20 billion regional housing bond dedicated to funding affordable housing developments across the region.

New Stream of Funds

This regional bond will create a dedicated stream of funding to support more equitable housing development and allow for a more coordinated, equitable approach at the scale needed across the region. It would allow the region to build up to 45,000 homes, create thousands of jobs, and preserve existing affordable housing.

Eighty percent of the funds would return to their county of origin (based on assessed property value), while the other twenty percent would go to the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority to distribute across the region where it is most needed.

Affordable housing is typically funded through a variety of sources which include Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and bonds, commercial mortgages and additional local, regional and state funding to fill the gap. However, the funding gap is wide. According to Enterprise Community Partners, there is a $7.6 billion gap to build just the affordable housing that is currently planned across the Bay Area.

The Bay Area Housing for All (BAHA) ballot measure aims to tackle the housing crisis by implementing a comprehensive set of policies. It focuses on creating more affordable housing options, protecting tenants, and fostering a sustainable housing market.

A measure like that has the potential to reshape the housing landscape at a time that it’s sorely needed. By addressing the fundamental issues of housing supply and affordability, it could provide a path to a more equitable and inclusive future. Here are some of the potential impacts:

  1. Increased Access to Affordable Housing: BAHA’s focus on affordable housing production and rent control could open up housing opportunities for individuals and families who are currently priced out of the market.
  2. Tenant Stability: Stronger tenant protections and rent control measures would provide a sense of security for renters, helping them stay in their homes without the constant threat of eviction.
  3. Diverse Communities: Inclusionary zoning policies would foster greater socio-economic diversity within neighborhoods, creating communities that better reflect the demographics of the Bay Area.
  4. Environmental Responsibility: Sustainable development practices encouraged by the measure align with California’s commitment to environmental responsibility and could set an example for other regions facing similar challenges.

The Bay Area Housing for All (BAHA) ballot measure represents a significant step toward addressing the housing crisis in the region. It underscores the urgency of finding solutions to the housing affordability problem. If the measure is approved, it would unlock billions of dollars in funding dedicated to building more affordable homes across the region. Endorse the first-of-its kind BAHA Ballot measure today: bayareahousingforall.org

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