Mercury News: “Can feds help ease housing crisis in the Bay Area and beyond?”

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“As housing costs spiral up faster than worker incomes, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier thinks federal housing policy could use a shot of Silicon Valley innovation.

The Concord Democrat has introduced a bill to create a new federal Office of Housing Innovation to provide grants across the country for local housing plans, oversee pilot projects for housing development and foster community discussions about smart planning and growth….

Amie Fishman, executive director of the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California, said the federal government has always played a large role in developing housing policy for the country.

The federal government backs mortgages, helps veterans secure home loans, and funds affordable housing for the poor, among other programs.

Innovations such as the standard 30-year fixed mortgage and the new roads and highways that enabled the growth of suburbs were developed at a national level, she said.

Fishman believes Washington now could encourage innovation in construction, transit-friendly development and new ways to fund and build affordable housing.

“It’s a national issue, but we’ve been at the tip of the spear in the Bay Area,” she said. “We need to do big solutions.””


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