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Voters to Decide on $20B Affordable Housing Bond

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(Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

By Riley Cooke
Bay City News

Voters in the nine Bay Area counties will see a $20 billion affordable housing bond from the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority on the ballot in November.

If passed, each county would receive anywhere from $118 million, like Napa County, to $2.4 billion, like San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. Four cities — San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa and Napa — would also receive additional funds for having more than 30% of their county’s low-income housing needs.

The funding would be enough to construct at least 72,000 affordable homes throughout the region. Each county and city that receives a bond allocation would also be required to set aside at least 15% for preserving existing affordable housing.

“Our regional housing shortage requires bold and transformative action to deliver new homes faster so more people can afford to live and work in the Bay Area,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Last week, the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley held a press conference last week in support of the housing bond. The mayor of Oakland also indicated support for the measure, as have other political leaders throughout the Bay Area.

“High housing costs put a major strain on working families, seniors and young people starting out,” said Marin County Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters, who also serves on the finance authority board of directors. “Too many Marin residents live in overcrowded and unsafe housing, and as a result many of our vital employees and valued community members are leaving the area.”

Financing the bond would require an estimated $19 property tax per $100,000 in assessed value. In other words, a home assessed at $1 million could expect to pay around $190 in property tax toward the bond measure.

As an affordable housing bond measure, two-thirds of voters would need to approve it come November. However, that threshold may be lowered to 55% if voters also approve a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

If a simple majority of voters vote yes on the constitutional amendment, the lowered threshold would then apply to the $20 billion affordable housing bond.

Dozens of Bay Area jurisdictions and pro-housing coalitions have issued their support for the constitutional amendment, which aims to make it easier for local governments to fund affordable housing and public infrastructure projects through bond measures.

“This housing bond will be a game-changer in preventing displacement of residents, addressing homelessness, and promoting equity within our Bay Area communities,” said Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

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