Protect Hud – Join the Carson Watch

Last week’s unveiling of President Trump’s budget philosophy “America First” decidedly dismisses the needs of ordinary Americans. The proposed budget decimates almost every domestic program funding, including 6 Billion dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. Affordable housing as Americans know it stands to be all but eliminated, not that it was adequately funded in the first place. The time for resistance is now and it begins with CarsonWatch.


CarsonWatch aims to organize housing activists to fight back against defunding HUD. Resistance has proven effective at disrupting the Trump agenda with the Affordable Care Act, the same must be done for affordable housing. CarsonWatch provides updates for participants to know when resistance is needed. It is organized by the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and PolicyLink. Sign up for their email alerts and be ready to fight for fair accessible, affordable housing for all.

Renewed Hope stands alongside these organizations as California endures an unprecedented housing shortage.

Holding out Hope in the Housing Shortage

California’s housing crisis can seem insurmountable. Reports vary on just the exact number of homes that need to be built. The California State Housing Assessment says 1.8 million homes by 2025. The McKinsey report doubles that number, saying we need 3.6 million homes to bring back a healthy housing market where folks can find many homes to suit their various needs. Rental housing displacement has been going on since late 2013. Alameda’s rent stabilization laws went into effect in April of 2016. It’s readily apparent that housing construction needs to be fast tracked and yet our state is still not building at a rate that will see this housing shortage disappear anytime soon.

Activism is hard work and it’s a collaborative effort and while we’re seeing growing numbers of people joining the movement and creating pro-housing organizations of their own, it’s still easy to get burnt out. What’s the point of working so hard if a problem isn’t being taken seriously, or the funds aren’t there to address it, and the lawmakers with power are dragging their feet?

In moments like these, it’s important to remember that Renewed Hope itself is the continuation of Alameda’s fair housing movement in the 1960’s and that Lois Pryor, one of the organizers of that movement is still an activist with us today. This brings to mind a recent article from the UK’s Guardian: Protest and Persist: why giving up hope is not an option by Rebecca Solnit. It shows that even if an activist movement does not achieve its initial aims that the movement has ripple effects that can last for generations, and that this hard work is worth doing.

Activism is a long game and those new at it must cultivate a point of view that embraces continued spurts of activism and rest when the time calls for it. However, as Rebecca Solnit’s piece shows: we must never give up.

California Data Resources for the 2017 Housing Shortage

As Alameda and many other California cities contemplate how they plan to build the 1.6 million low income homes they need by 2025, affordable housing advocates are using data from a few different resources. These data are vitally important as despite the crisis many cities still oppose new housing in favor of the needs of existing residents, many of whom have stable housing that is already paid for, or permanently rent controlled.

As the recent Harvard study recently found even renters are getting into the NIMBY act, wanting to preserve the views and benefits they’ve enjoyed for decades, while younger generations, immigrants and migrants struggle to pay for affordable housing. In some cases, even those who benefit from subsidized affordable housing are opposed to new development, unable to understand that these folks just want the same thing that they already have: stable affordable housing.

Fortunately in the fight to approve and build new affordable housing Renewed Hope and other housing advocates have hundreds of pages of verified data that shows how we got to the housing crisis, how much we need to build to fix it and where those homes should go.

Accessible Reports on the California Housing Shortage:

The 2017 California State Housing Assessment from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This is a broad overview of the housing shortage, showing how many homes California has built in the last hundred years, and revealing that our housing production has slipped by building only half of what we require on an annual basis for the last ten years. It further acknowledges that the folks most impacted by this crisis are low income folks who do not have the flexibility in their budgets for rising rents and become much more likely to become homeless. This report also goes into some of the reasons that we haven’t been building at the rate required for a healthy housing market.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development 2015-2016 Annual Report

California state law requires that the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) report annually on housing construction, grant and loan fund distribution, and the demographics of the people HCD programs has assisted. In addition to the narrative summary of the report, there are tables towards the end that make it easy to see which counties are doing their part in the shortage and which ones are making it worse.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office Report “Do Communities Adequately Plan for Housing?”

It’s not just the HCD that’s concerned with this housing shortage. As California’s Assemblymembers and Senators consider solutions the CA LAO has come out with a more detailed look at what prevents individual California communities from building needed housing and considers solutions to target those roadblocks. The report’s conclusion is rather startling as it asserts that nothing will change until housing advocates encourage a shift in views about housing development across the state. This means that education is a necessary endeavor as we work to build housing and that these reports can provide the foundation to do that education.

Closing California’s Housing Gap by the McKinsey Global Institute

This might be one of the most important documents of the bunch. While the HCD talks about building 1.8 million homes by 2025, the McKinsey Global Institute puts that number at 3.5 million. Considering that they also assert that as many as 50% of Californians in certain regions are paying more than 30% of their incomes in housing and utilities it’s important to determine what the true number of housing units we will need. It’s important to read this report as one contemplates some of the assertions of the HCD report. There are statistical nuggets here that can change the hearts and minds of Californians hesitant to build the dense, urban cities that we need.

Alameda has been improving its approach to affordable housing in the past three years, however more work needs to be done. We have to determine the best path to ensure that as many people as possible get access to housing in areas of job growth and transit infrastructure. Alameda is primed in its placement between Oakland and San Francisco to become a vibrant part of the growing Bay Area metropolis, especially as regional transit planners consider adding a second BART tube and a BART station in our city.

The documents shared today can help us prove that when folks with stable housing oppose new development in reliable job corridors, that they are directly contributing to increases in homelessness and suffering among vulnerable populations. A simple mind shift towards urbanism could be the starting point to build an equitable California with a healthy housing market for all.

Affordable By Design Could House the Middle Class

A great article from the National Housing Institute goes into a unique perspective on what prevents middle income housing from getting built. Writer Rick Jacobus says it’s not all anti-greed attitudes towards developers and zoning. Instead he proposes that the aesthetic design requirements also add complication and cost to developments.

Both Catellus and Tim Lewis are considering increased numbers of “affordable by design” housing in their newest developments. Sean Whiskeman noted at Monday’s planning board meeting that these units would be 800-1500 square feet and between 1-2 bedrooms. The idea is that the size and layouts would be designed in a way that keeps costs down and enables the developer to charge less. He even said that these homes would be in the $500,000 range. Time will tell whether that will bear out or if the market is so hot that those units end up in the much less affordable $600,000 range.

Previously these kinds of homes were called “work force housing”, however these units were still at market rate, which remains way above what’s affordable for many working families in the Bay Area. As our state continues to endure a housing shortage of crisis proportions more solutions to densify and increase overall housing numbers are desperately needed, as well as initiatives to change perspectives on new housing development.

Read Why Aren’t We Building Middle Income Housing here.