Bay Area voters to make a decision on $20 billion in reasonably priced housing bonds in November

This November, Bay Area voters will vote on an unprecedented $20 billion bond issue that might help construct or preserve potentially 90,000 reasonably priced homes within the nine-county region.

On Wednesday, Bay Area Housing Finance Authority The committee, a regional body of locally elected officials, voted unanimously to place the measure to a vote.

“This is one of the most meaningful votes I've ever taken in my career, and that's saying a lot,” said San Francisco City Councilwoman Hillary Ronen. “Housing should be a human right.”

Across the Bay Area, about 1.4 million residents—23% of all renters—spend greater than half of their income on rent, making them “severely rent-burdened,” based on regional authorities. At the identical time, an estimated 37,000 individuals are homeless each night within the region—greater than your complete population of Menlo Park.

Ahead of Wednesday's vote, housing activists and nonprofit developers urged board members to send the bond approval to voters, arguing that massive investments in reasonably priced housing are needed to offset the region's appalling inequality and get essentially the most vulnerable residents off the streets.

Opponents of the general public meeting said the bonds can be financed through a painful tax increase that might inevitably result in wasteful government spending without real accountability. Some also raised concerns about what the region's ongoing push to create cheaper housing could mean for public services, traffic congestion and homeowners' property values.

“I'm furious and I can't take this anymore!” said Tom Weismiller, a longtime San Mateo County resident, quoting fictional news anchor Howard Beale from the 1976 film “Network.”

The bonds can be repaid through a brand new property tax on homes and businesses. The funding agency estimates the typical annual tax can be $19 per $100,000 of assessed property value, or about $190 per yr for a house valued at $1 million. The tax can be in effect through 2078.

The total cost of the bonds, including interest, is estimated at around $48 billion.

As it stands, the bond would wish a two-thirds majority of all Bay Area voters to pass. However, if voters approve one other measure on the identical ballot in November to make it easier to pass certain tax increases, the bond would only need a 55% approval rating, officials said.

Although there may be widespread agreement that the Bay Area must create cheaper housing, the bond's passage is much from guaranteed as voters proceed to feel the consequences of inflation and are increasingly skeptical concerning the ability of the general public sector to resolve the region's most pressing problems.

A recent survey commissioned by the Treasury Department found that 54 percent of voters would support the bond measure, below the edge required for passage. At the identical time, 68 percent said local taxes are already high enough and would vote against any tax increase. However, the pollsters said a few of those voters also support the bond measure.

“Voters are very pessimistic right now,” said Ruth Bernstein, managing director of EMC Research. “They are not particularly optimistic about the general outlook, and they are somewhat cautious on tax issues.”

Still, board members pointed to a series of successful reasonably priced housing votes in cities and counties that won voter support after officials and advocates pushed for them.

San Francisco alone has approved 4 bonds totaling $1.47 billion since 2015. Voters in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda County and Santa Clara County have approved billions of dollars in total for reasonably priced housing in recent times. A two-thirds majority was required to pass these measures.

The decision to place the bond on the ballot comes because the state is pushing Bay Area cities and counties to approve greater than 441,000 recent apartments by 2031, a roughly 15% increase within the region's total housing stock. More than half of the apartments should be reasonably priced for low- and moderate-income residents.

If approved, the $20 billion bond would put $4 billion right into a regional fund to finance reasonably priced projects. The rest can be divided among the many Bay Area's nine counties and five largest cities to make a decision methods to promote reasonably priced housing. An oversight committee can be arrange to watch spending.

This chart shows the amount Bay Area counties and cities would receive from a proposed $20 billion regional housing bond. San Francisco and Santa Clara County would receive $2.4 billion at the high end, and Napa County would receive $118 billion at the low end.Santa Clara County would receive $2.4 billion, San Mateo County $2.1 billion, Alameda County $2 billion and Contra Costa County $1.9 billion. San Francisco would receive $2.4 billion, San Jose $2.1 billion and Oakland $765 million.

This money might be used to construct over 40,000 reasonably priced homes within the region. construction management that also need financing, based on a recent report from reasonably priced housing finance group Enterprise Community Partners. Officials say the bond could also help construct tens of 1000’s of additional housing units and keep existing housing reasonably priced, including by helping nonprofits buy properties where affordable contracts expire.

Affordable housing is reserved for many who earn lower than a certain quantity, often a percentage of an area's median income. That could be as high as 120% of the median income, or as little as 15% or 30%. In Santa Clara County, 30% of the median income is $38,750 for a single person, based on the state Housing Authority. Residents typically spend about 30% of their income on housing costs, although the quantity can vary.

In addition to housing, local authorities could also use the cash from the bonds to construct homeless shelters, including tiny houses, converted motels, group homes and supervised campgrounds.

Earlier this yr, San Jose, which under Mayor Matt Mahan has made constructing recent shelters the centerpiece of its homeless response, agreed to spend about 28 percent of its potential bond capital on shelter options. Mahan, a voting member of the Finance Committee, argued that reasonably priced housing is just too expensive and takes too long to be the major strategy within the fight against homelessness.

“It's not an either/or situation – it's both,” Mahan said in an announcement. “If we increase shelter capacity, we will force people into homes and end the era of encampments.”

Writer Kate Talerico contributed to this report.

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