Did you know that all the City of Alameda needs to do in order to solve the housing crisis is just find a kindly developer that will build 200 very low and low income housing units, oh and manage to find a piece of land that won’t bring out every NIMBY and his or her brother to protest the building of these units and voila! Problem solved.
Except for the fact that the best method to building subsidized housing long dried up and its demise was cheered by the very people suggesting that the only solution to the housing crisis is subsidized housing — redevelopment funds. Also except for the fact that, in Alameda at least, all new construction comes with cost neutral expectations that requires that they add very little to general fund costs which means that they come with healthy fees that the residents are asked to bear.
Never mind that new construction will always be more expensive than existing housing stock because of the expectations for new construction to both mitigate its existence and solve current issues as well. But yeah, all we need to do is to find that elusive unicorn of a developer that is chomping at the bit to just build very low and low income housing just because.
While we’re at it, throw in some flying puppies that poop rainbows as well.
The issue with this sort of thinking is that it is a way for people to claim, look I’m not against all development I just think that this is the way to solve the issue, but knowing that the solution they are proposing is completely whack. Yes, I said whack. Every single mass low and very low income project in Alameda has come into existence through a cobbling of market rate developer fees, tax credits, redevelopment funds (when they existed) and grants. There is no unicorn that exists out in the world who can make a low and very low income housing development work without (1) massive density and (2) massive government subsidization. Just getting through the approval process alone is probably a 20% premium on top of the hard construction costs.
This sort of disingenuous posturing is not helpful to the discussion around the housing crisis in Alameda and the Bay Area in general. At least by being honest about one’s opposition to any development advocates can talk about the benefits and trade offs to construction. But when the opposition to market rate development (which typically brings in a healthy percentage of below market rate units) is masked in the guise of “we should only be build low income housing” the person with that sort of opinion is either woefully uniformed about the costs of development in general or disingenuously using an excuse that makes them sound reasonable, but is in fact a complete red herring.