In November of 2015 our allies on the city council introduced a measure that would have directed the city to study how to expand publicly financed housing. That measure was narrowly defeated in a 4-4 vote with one absence. Despite this, we have pressed on to conduct this research ourselves. We've been consulting with a number of housing experts and developing some ideas. In the coming months we'll be rolling out a series of editorials and action items related to these ideas. We're going to be focusing on the following areas:
1. Expanding the range of projects that receive public finance to include low to zero subsidy projects. This housing will pay off loans out of rents and as such will necessarily be priced such that middle income people can afford it. Once the loans are paid off though, it will become mixed income housing with reduced prices for low income folks. If we had done this years ago, many more affordable units would now be available. We need to start now!
2. Combining public acquisition of land with zoning regulation that will both incentive and allow Community Land Trusts to work to create more affordable units. These "Affordability Land Trusts" will allow us both to fight rent increases in the short term while building social assets to help stabilize housing costs long term.
3. Promote legislation to fund a pilot project that is a "Passive House" high energy efficiency multi-family building. Passive House uses high levels of insulation and other methods to achieve 90% energy cost reductions. This energy efficiency technique is quite common in Europe and is gaining popularity in the US. One additional advantage of Passive House is that strong envelope design contributes towards long term durability, which reduces replacement costs and contributes to long term affordability.
4. Promote legislation to support a pilot project focused on "Tenant Empowered Design". In a conventional project, a developer (public or private) decides upon the building design, then rents it out to tenants. With Tenant involvement during the design process, future tenants are given an opportunity to influence the final design, working with architects and the community. This is also a great opportunity to build relationships between current and future residents so that each new building helps create welcoming communities.
5. A secret project to reduce transit pass costs, speed up buses, and reduce homelessness. Inquire if you're interested!
We're still consulting with experts and fine-tuning these ideas. Your feedback is welcome!
If you'd like to get involved, send an email to [email protected] or click the "Take Action" button above. Also, be sure also to follow our progress on our facebook page!