Housing Advocates Urge Immediate Action, Supervisors Consider Investment in Affordable Homes

John Stewart Company and BRIDGE Housing in the Business Times
June 24, 2016
Alameda County Votes to Place Affordable Housing Bond on the November Ballot
June 29, 2016


Redwood City, June 28 – San Mateo County Supervisors heard moving testimony from two dozen advocates and asked staff to return July 12 with a plan to invest in affordable homes.


Small business owners, affordable housing developers, labor officials, county residents and environmentalists reported on the nine-month Jobs/Housing Task Force and its recommendation to take action now to prevent further displacement.


Diana Reddy, a self-described “advocate for truly affordable housing,” said that in the last month, 14 private multi-family properties have been offered for sale. “The sale of these 200 units will displace hundreds, with an impact on schools, services and neighborhoods. San Mateo County has always been an innovator and a leader on housing, now we need to identify the resources.”


The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County presented privately commissioned polling showing strong voter support for increased investment in affordable homes. Godbe Research of Burlingame completed the survey of 600 likely November 2016 voters in June, using an innovative mix of live interviews and online surveys. The sample was weighted to reflect likely Presidential year turnout and has a margin of error of 3.9%.


Housing issues ranked at the top of the list for local concerns, above education, healthcare, safety and traffic, according to Barry Barnes, partner at TBWB Strategies. 63% of likely San Mateo voters support addressing the crisis in housing affordability through a sales tax, with slightly fewer supporting a proposed bond. Supervisors directed County staff to test new language on a general obligation bond to assess feasibility.


NPH has been pursuing affordable housing ballot measures in several counties as part of a regional electoral strategy. In Santa Clara County, Supervisors voted unanimously last week to place a $950 million bond before voters. During the San Mateo hearing, Alameda County Supervisors unanimously approved a $580 million bond measure.


“We are working with each community to find local solutions to this critical problem,” said Amie Fishman, NPH executive director. “We are working at the state and federal level, too, but local officials know the need directly and have the opportunity to act now.”


“There is important legislation in Sacramento and heading toward Governor Brown this summer,” said Michael Lane, HLC board president and NPH policy director. “Local support means that San Mateo County is more competitive for state and federal funds, and can begin moving work on new homes forward now.”


“San Mateo County can meet an immediate need for seniors, veterans, working families, who are asking for local leadership on this urgent issue,” said Evvy Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County.


The Board will meet again July 12 and July 26 to determine next steps. For more information, contact Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County or NPH.