Affordable housing is a many-faceted issue that makes it challenging to fashion quick solutions that a majority of voters can support.
Absent my winning the next big Powerball and writing a check to cover the cost of 200 new low-rent apartments, the core solution (as former councilmember and mayor, Larry Barnett, has long argued) is a public and/or privately established housing fund to subsidize affordable housing construction here in one of the highest cost of living areas of the country.
The size and lifecycle of any such fund will depend on how much housing the body politic thinks is needed and/or tolerable, and how it might impact them financially and otherwise.
Morality notwithstanding, the issue is population and income-driven. Because many people want to live in Sonoma instead of, say, Sheepdip, CA, housing demand here is very high vs. the supply of digs affordable for most. Of course, that could change when the economy tanks, or if there’s a Zika outbreak.
But seldom mentioned is that many current residents otherwise sympathetic to the need for more affordable housing want housing prices to go even higher. E.g.:
(a) Those who want or need to sell their home and get the most $$ possible, especially if they paid a bundle for it,
(b) Realtors, who make bigger commissions selling high-priced housing,
(c) Builder/developers, who make more profit on market-rate housing,
(d) Banks and lenders, who make more by financing homes that cost millions vs. homes that cost thousands,
(e) Current homeowners, who want their property values to soar and build equity which many count on to finance retirement, new cars, college for kids, and/or their divorce.
(f) Landlords, for whom upscale housing justifies higher rents and brings a bigger return on investmen.
It’s composition may vary but the size of the contingent is probably pretty constant and of course includes some NIMBYs who don’t want ‘housing projects' full of ‘those people’ dragging down property values. NIMBY’s can be politically significant if they vote or influence those who do.
Dismissing NIMBY concerns doesn’t help as much as taking them into account when fashioning affordable housing solutions. Given resident interest in enhancing the value of their own holdings, getting even wider support for a meaningful affordable housing fund may require appealing to higher sensibilities.