Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 16, 2016

Drop in the bucket

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:59 am

There’s a great profile of the newish Executive Director of the Alameda Housing Authority in the Alameda Magazine.  But what was really informative were some of the factoids that were added in reference to the housing shortage and the effect on Alameda families.


Authority housing waitlists are all full—and when they were opened early in 2015, they had 36,000 applicants. “That’s a staggering number,” said Jeff Miller, the head of the Boys & Girls Club of Alameda.

Despite this even modest development projects are viewed with hostility despite the clear and present need.  More:

There are several projects more in the pipeline, Cooper noted, all of which are funded by private investment through a low-income housing tax credit program and conventional, long-term mortgages. The former Island High site on Eagle Avenue will see the construction of 22 apartments and is expected to break ground at the end of 2016. Thirty-one apartments for seniors will be built as part of the Del Monte project, which is slated to begin construction in 2017. And 32 family-affordable units at Alameda Landing are expected to be open for occupancy in mid-2017.

So, at most by the end of 2017 the Housing Authority, which has a waiting list of 36,000 applicants, will only be able to add 85 housing units.

Hopefully when people start to complain about all the development, particularly when the development projects are one of these three, they should instead think about the 36,000 number and consider that there are 36,000 families that income qualify for housing assistance that are probably teetering on the edge of losing their housing as opposed to viscerally reacting to new housing units that might add seconds to their morning commute.


  1. A legislative update:

    Affordable housing for teachers

    SB 1413, by Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would establish the Teacher Housing Act of 2016 to help with the acquisition, construction and preservation of affordable housing for teachers or other school district employees.

    Why it’s important: Several districts in the Bay Area have established or plan to build rent-subsidized housing for school employees. By explicitly authorizing districts to develop housing on district-owned property for their employees, the bill will enable projects to qualify for federal low-income housing tax credits, an incentive for builders to become involved.

    Status: In May, the Senate passed SB 1413, which is now before the Assembly.

    If passed, Alameda Unified would have a greater chance of converting property to teacher housing it acquired in land swap with the City.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — August 16, 2016 @ 7:54 am

    • Wouldn’t it be more efficient and more effective to just pay teachers more? The district isn’t qualified to be a developer & operator of housing complexes, nor should it be.

      Comment by dave — August 16, 2016 @ 9:11 am

      • The current Board is evaluating this option. As to the question of efficiency and effectiveness I will leave it to the voters to decide at the ballot box.

        Comment by Mike McMahon — August 16, 2016 @ 9:38 am

  2. So the 36,000 figure is a little misleading. I asked for clarification at a presentstion last month at the main library. Whenever a housing list is opened, it is open to everyone across the nation, I guess because it is Federally funded. You can’t restrict the list to just those in need of affordable housing now living in your city. It’s a little absurd because if a family in Virginia applies and gets to the top of the list, will they have the resources to move their famy and whatever belongings they have across country? Probably not. I’m not sure if they were able to give a fair answer to how many in Alameda were in need of affordable housing based on income, or if anyone knows how many families in need have been displaced and moved out of town due to high rents and would like to return to Alameda. Certainly there is a need in Alameda, but it apparently isn’t this big.

    Comment by Not.A. Alamedan — August 16, 2016 @ 8:23 am

    • My guess from experience is that it is extremely unlikely that more than a small percentage of the 36,000 applicants (ie. less than 2%) were from outside of the Bay Area, much less from out of state. While you are correct that advertising for open Section 8 or public housing waiting lists is picked up in national publications, the majority of the outreach and marketing is local. So on top of the fact that hordes of low income residents are NOT looking to relocate to the expensive Bay Area, the likelihood of one seeing the announcement about the open waiting lists is significantly higher in the East Bay.

      Comment by Dya — August 16, 2016 @ 1:48 pm

  3. It’s not so difficult to understand. Property owners have a very strong motivation to oppose anything which they believe (rightly or wrongly) will decrease the value of their property. Add to that the people who do not own property but who do not like the idea of living in a densly populated area, and it’s obvious why new developments get the cold shoulder from many Alamedans.

    The resistence from property owners is especially strong because after 2008, we saw how quickly a family could go from ownership to foreclosure. Within an 18-month period, three families I knew personally lost their houses. Up to that point, I had never known anyone who had. It makes an impression.

    Many homeowners have large mortgages on their property. Someone who paid $900,000 for a home and still owes $700,000, wants to be sure that if he loses his job, he walks away with at least enough to pay his mortgage off, pay the costs of selling (moving, realtor and other fees), and still have enough for a another place to live until he finds a new job. Then you have the baby boomers who lost a year or two of income during the recession and had to take early withdrawals from retirement to keep their homes. They are relying on getting enough when they sell to make up for that loss. They’ll be in real trouble if they don’t.

    The fear of losing it all is very strong in the minds of people today. So, although they may be sympathetic to the plight of others, they are going to protect their own interests first.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 16, 2016 @ 8:25 am

    • I’ve heard many people (homeowners or not) complaining about more housing in Alameda causing more general auto congestion but in the fifty years I’ve lived here, I can’t ever recall (including 2008) any home owner worrying about more housing causing their property value to recede.

      The current real estate bubble here appears to be leaking air so natural market forces will dictate property values and whether they recede or increase at any given time. I don’t recall any time in Alameda when increased home building lowered current home values. Maybe your Joe Blow guy who loses his job better sell and rent before he loses his job if he has the fear of ‘losing it all’ in his mind.

      Comment by jack — August 16, 2016 @ 9:51 am

      • Increasing the supply of housing in order to reduce the price is a stated goal of many pro-development folks. Maybe they’re wrong, but it is a widely held opinion, and one that can easily worry a property owner.

        Comment by dave — August 16, 2016 @ 9:57 am

        • More development could very well affect property values in Alameda. My argument is that it’s not (at least it hasn’t been) the development itself it’s the traffic that new development causes that could lower current property values, though it hasn’t yet (to my knowledge) occurred. Build more egress/ingress points and let them develop away.

          Comment by jack — August 16, 2016 @ 10:56 am

        • Also, there is a bit of different messaging for different crowds. When touted as “revitalizing”, a project appears to promise to create at least as much new demand in an area as new supply.

          Comment by MP — August 16, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

  4. Any idea of the make-up of the waiting list, Alameda vs. non-Alameda applicants?

    Comment by MP — August 16, 2016 @ 11:11 am

  5. Drop in the bucket

    To find a drop in a bucket of anything, divide by 30,720.

    36000 families applied and are on the waiting list divided by 30,000 equals 1.171875.

    “So, at most by the end of 2017 the Housing Authority, which has a waiting list of 36,000 applicants, will only be able to add 85 housing units.

    85 X 1.171872 = 99.609375

    The average American household in 2015 consisted of 2.54 people

    2.54 X 99.609375 = 253.0078125

    So there are approximately 253 people drops in the bucket.

    Comment by jack — August 16, 2016 @ 12:14 pm

  6. It’s all the fault of rent control! ( NOT).

    Comment by MI — August 25, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

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