Folks apparently this is the new Bay Area reality when it comes to housing shortages. Both the City of Oakland and the City of Palo Alto are studying upping the median income rates in their cities to hep subsidize housing for middle class families or relaxing the rules around who qualifies for first time homebuyers low interest loans.
From the East Bay Express on Oakland’s plans:
City staffers also want to redefine affordable housing for two other affordable-housing funding sources so that middle-class families can benefit from housing subsidies. Oakland currently operates a first-time homebuyer program that makes subsidized loans to very low- and low-income renters seeking to purchase a home in Oakland. To qualify for the program, a household cannot earn more than 100 percent of the area median income, or $84,150 for a family of three. The city wants to increase this income limit to 150 percent of the area median income so that a family of three that earns as much as $126,230 a year would qualify for a subsidized home loan from the city. A borrower does not have to be an Oakland resident to qualify for these subsidized loans.
The city council has voted to study a housing proposal that would essentially subsidize new housing for what qualifies as middle-class nowadays, families making from $150,000 to $250,000 a year.
The plan would focus on building smaller, downtown units for people who live near transit and don’t own cars, along with mixed-use retail and residential developments.
And while the Bay Area is struggling to simply to rearrange the deck chairs, New York City has created a huge affordable housing plan that, while “imperfect” at least takes steps to solve the housing crisis that has existed in NYC for a very long time.
From the New York Magazine:
The de Blazoning amounts to the mayor’s version of Obamacare, an imperfect but monumental legacy program on which he staked his political credibility. As with health care, the rezoning program has been crafted to nudge the private market, not replace it; to protect many but not all; to withstand economic tumult; to outlive the current administration by a lifetime at least; and to dole out its effects over decades. It marshals thousands of arcane details into a new bureaucratic landscape that will give many citizens room to breathe. As with health care, it has downsides — especially for those who like the city just the way it is, or, rather, the way it was.
Every big change in the rules affects the texture of the city. The original 1916 zoning code produced the Art Deco era of setback skyscrapers. The 1961 update gave us flat-front towers and low-ceilinged apartments. As I have attempted to explain before, the new plan consists of three coordinated campaigns: 1) gradually rezoning large swaths of the city, 2) decreeing that when areas do get rezoned, all new buildings must include a sizable chunk of affordable housing, and 3) updating the citywide rules to improve the kinds of buildings that go up — higher ceilings, more storefronts, bay windows, texture, and stoops. But the effects will vary drastically by zip code. All three parts, twined together, will quickly reshape East New York, a transformation primed by billions of city subsidies.
At the rate of the Bay Area’s non action this region will soon be only comprised of the wealthy or those families that were fortunate, I mean “worked hard” to buy property prior to the economic boom of today in the 80s and 90s. Surely that sort of economic disparity is much worse than a loss of the “character” that housing opponents always trot out as a rationale for doing nothing.