Affordable Housing in Marin County
The Marin Interfaith Council (MIC) believes it is very important to be informed and educated about what, where and when affordable housing is built - an issue that directly impacts the future of our county. Such education and information is an essential part of MIC's mission. On May 29th, almost 50 religious and nonprofit leaders' gathered to hear an overview of what is happening in the county regarding affordable housing from four engaging presenters:
Ms. Katie Crecelius, Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative
Since 1968 private, nonprofit housing development organizations have built 102 multi-unit rental developments totaling 2950 affordable units available to low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities and some long terms transitional housing. Experience with these affordable developments generally has been at least as positive (and sometimes more positive) than experience with market-rate rental developments.
My personal opinion as to possible reasons for the current very vocal negative reaction to affordable housing, include: two State laws which have kept affordable housing on local public agendas (Housing Element law and regional planning in response to AB 31 and SB 375); concerns about property values related to the economic downturn; Tea Party involvement; unconscious and conscious racism; and lack of support from local elected officials for affordable housing.
Rev. Terry Hamilton-Poore, Christ Lutheran Church
Christ Lutheran Church of Fairfax, which I served as pastor until recently, is working to build affordable senior housing on its property. This has been a longtime dream of the congregation, but for years no one knew how to make it come about. In 2009 a casual conversation with a staff member of the Town of Fairfax got the ball rolling. She relayed the church's interest to Jim Moore, the Town Planner, who took the lead by building support with the Town's Affordable Housing Committee and the Town Council. The Town has helped by paying for two site capacity studies, writing the development into their new Housing Element (including rezoning the site), and committing to waiving all possible fees. The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California paid for a consultant, Lamar Turner, to vet the project and help move it forward. Lamar drafted the Request for Proposal that helped the church to connect with Resources for Community Development (RCD), a Berkeley-based non-profit housing development. Some of the predevelopment work has been completed, and RCD is now seeking funding for the next phase, which will include the design.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it is taking an entire community to raise this project! Fortunately, Christ Lutheran has been blessed with the help of the right people in the right places at the right times.
Mr. Paul Fordham, Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound of Marin provides 450 beds of shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing for homeless families and adults in Marin County. We see the lack of affordable housing as the key factor in the rising tide of homeless people in our community. These are people who live here, work here and many of whom were born here in Marin County yet they find the current housing market out of their reach and are knocking on the doors of our shelters.
Homeward Bound is building "Oma Village" - 14 units of affordable housing for formerly homeless families - as one of the solutions to this problem. This video provides more details about Oma Village and the need for affordable housing:
Ms. Liz Hall, Marin Organizing Committee
Ms. Hall spoke about how the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) is engaging this issue. MOC develops the power of ordinary people to affect change in the community. MOC is currently focused on issues related to immigration and affordable housing.
If you would like more information or are interested in having someone speak to your congregation or nonprofit about affordable housing in Marin, please contact MIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More from the MIC Blog
by Robert A. Rees Ph.D. in Christianity
by Marin Interfaith Council in Christianity
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