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Our take on the state of the region

Let’s move bold housing solutions at the local level!

Author: Ellen Wu

On September 13th, the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority’s (BAHFA) Oversight Committee will meet to discuss the proposed 2024 regional housing bond measure and their work with jurisdictions in preparation for the bond funds. In November 2024, voters will have the opportunity to pass a once-in-a-lifetime $10 to $20 billion general obligation bond to address the housing crisis. This BAHFA Oversight meeting is an opportunity for housing justice advocates and community members to voice their support for the measure and to call for transparent and equitable expenditures at the local level.

If the ballot measure passes next year, 80 percent of the funds will return to the nine Bay Area counties and to four cities (Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Napa), and they will be required to create expenditure plans for how the funds will be spent. BAHFA will retain and allocate the remaining 20 percent. To help ensure that cities and counties develop equitable and high-impact expenditure plans, Urban Habitat convened a group of grassroots stakeholders comprised of tenant- and community-organizing groups, community land trusts and housing cooperatives, and affordable housing developers and advocates to discuss how to best shape local expenditure plans to meet the needs of their members and those who are the most housing insecure. We developed a framework with our collective recommendations, which is available here.

This bond measure is a key opportunity to intervene in our region’s housing crisis. It offers an unprecedented scale of public capital to build and preserve truly affordable housing. As a region, we must seize this chance to provide housing that is actually affordable to extremely low- and very low-income residents, BIPOC, seniors, and people with special needs.

At the same time, we know that we can’t simply build our way out of this crisis. We need real tenant protections, like rent control, rent registries, and just-cause for eviction, and robust services to keep tenants in their homes. We need genuinely affordable housing for BIPOC, immigrants, and low-income people who have been shut out property ownership. We need community-based developers and housing agencies to have the necessary resources to respond to the community. It’s time to move away from a system that presumes the market is the solution.

With this bond measure’s potential influx of capital, jurisdictions have an incredible opportunity to think creatively, reallocate existing funds, and leverage other sources to tip the scales of the housing crisis and get all Bay Area residents securely housed. We hope our framework will be a useful guide in doing just that.