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Bay Area rides affordable housing wave following midterm elections


Affordable housing advocates may not have gotten everything they wanted on their Election Day wish list, but they’re cheering a series of victories this week that may help ease the Bay Area’s housing crunch.

That includes $6 billion in state-wide housing bonds and hundreds of millions more in local bonds and taxes.

“I think overall, it’s probably an A-,” Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council, said of the pro-housing results. “That’s not bad. I’ll take that.”

Still, some measures are too close to call, and others went down in defeat. In San Jose, for example, the housing department was counting on a $450 million bond to bring the city one step closer to its goal of building 10,000 affordable homes by 2022. But the measure was falling short Friday. Similar measures in Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa were rejected.

Major bonds are always difficult to pass, because it’s tough to convince voters to approve spending such large sums of money, Regan said. And he suspects San Jose voters may have been particularly reluctant this election, because they approved a $950 million affordable housing bond in Santa Clara County just two years ago.

Arguably the biggest housing win was the passing of Propositions 1 and 2, which together authorize $6 billion in bonds to fund home loans and affordable housing construction for low-income families, veterans and people with mental illness.

Locally, several cities had strong pro-affordable housing and pro-renter results. Oaklanders voted to raise $10 million a year for homeless services and dumping cleanup by taxing vacant properties, and to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants from certain buildings. Berkeley residents passed a $135 million affordable housing bond. San Francisco voted in a big-business tax expected to raise $300 million a year for affordable housing and homeless services, Mountain View passed a similar measure to pad its general fund, which could help fund housing, and East Palo Alto approved an office tax that will partly go toward funding affordable housing.

A controversial move to allow cities to expand rent control was a resounding failure, drawing ambivalent reactions. Some housing experts were disappointed, saying Proposition 10 was needed to help renters survive the overheated market. But others breathed a sigh of relief, saying the measure would have depressed new rental construction.

In the South Bay, affordable housing advocates were smarting as San Jose’s $450 million affordable housing bond struggled — garnering 62 percent of the vote, but falling short of the 66 percent needed to pass. The city could have turned that money into about 3,600 new affordable homes, said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose’s housing director.

“Without that, we’re going to have a large gap,” she said, “and we’re going to be very challenged in meeting the 10,000-unit goal.”

But even the losses — the large housing bond in San Jose and others in Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa that needed two-thirds of the vote to pass — won support from a majority of voters.

“We’ve seen an increasing realization from …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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