The serious lack of affordable housing in the East Bay was clearly apparent to voters in Alameda County last year with approval of Measure A1, a $580 million general obligation bond to help foster new ownership of affordable housing and units for renters.
On Tuesday, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors formally approved the issuance of the bonds, while continuing to lay the groundwork for the hard part of deal: equally distributing the bonds’ proceeds while also maximizing its ability to leverage additional funding.
Shortly after more than 73 percent of Alameda County voters approved Measure A1, there was already a clamoring for information about when new units would be constructed, said Supervisor Wilma Chan. “Two days after the vote people were calling me.”
The short supply of housing in the East Bay, even with an influx of new county-backed units, however, may only slightly close the gap, said Supervisor Nate Miley. “Quite frankly, I don’t know if we’ll ever catch up.”
County officials hope the $580 million in bond proceeds can also act as a multiplier in attracting additional state and federal funding for affordable housing. But Supervisor Keith Carson, added, “We’re not as a county maximizing our leverage as best as we can.”
A majority of the Board of Supervisors expressed concern Tuesaday morning that early discussions over how the housing bond will be distributed, excluded faith-based organizations from the table.
Supervisor Richard Valle added that the Catholic Diocese may hold a large amount of properties that could be used for housing. Miley and Carson also agreed. Supervisor Scott Haggerty, though, was skeptical. “Everyone is assuming church property is free and clear and that’s not the case.”
Nonetheless, a degree of accomplishment was evident at Tuesday’s meeting. Chan recounted the opening last year of the Marea Alta housing development near the San Leandro BART station. At the event an African American mother of two who had previously lived in a single room spoke proudly of finally being able to tell her two-year old to go to his own room to sleep. “This is what we’re all about,” said Chan.