Affordable Housing

A duplex located in Berkeley’s District 1.
A duplex located in Berkeley’s District 1.

MEASURE O AFFORDABLE HOUSING BOND. The City is fortunate that voters resoundingly approved the Measure O affordable housing bond last November, which will provide a total of $135 million to fund the development of below-market-rate homes. Every dollar of bond funds will yield about $4 of outside funding sources, quadrupling the impact of the bond.

The Council and Mayor have appointed members to the Measure O Bond Oversight Committee. Measure O is an incredible opportunity for our community to meet the significant need for affordable homes, and I want to ensure that a portion of the units created as a result of Measure O are used to create permanent supportive housing for our homeless population. To read a full update on the Measure O affordable housing bond, please visit the Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Policy Committee web page , click on the 4/25/2019 agenda packet at the bottom of the page, and scroll to pages 74-80 of the packet.

MISSING MIDDLE HOUSING STUDY. Not everyone who needs to find an affordable place to live in Berkeley will benefit from the units created as a result of the Measure O Affordable Housing Bond. Many workers who are an integral part of our community like our long-time teachers and nurses, for instance earn too much to qualify for affordable housing but not enough to afford the skyrocketing rents and home prices. We all have a family member or friend who is adversely impacted by the high cost of housing. I’ve met with neighbors who’ve shared their concerns that their kids won’t be able to afford to live here as adults. One mom told me that she fears that her high-school-aged son or one of his friends could end up homeless under the freeway.

New apartment buildings downtown and along transit corridors like University and San Pablo serve a certain population that can afford market-rate rent. But we also have to think about how we can empower homeowners to convert their single-family homes into duplexes, triplexes, or even fourplexes (i.e., “missing middle” housing) if they choose, so they can better accommodate a range of family situations. For instance, missing middle housing could give young adults who grew up in Berkeley the opportunity to return and live in a unit created on the property of their parents; missing middle could also help an aging senior who needs to create a second unit for a caregiver or for retirement income. Here in District 1, we are fortunate to already have a variety of housing types that were created before zoning rules became more restrictive.

I was proud to co-sponsor the item requesting a Missing Middle Housing Study (scroll to Item #32), which passed the Council in April 2019. The study will explore how we can add “gentle density” to our single-family home neighborhoods in a responsible way that protects tenants and low-income individuals as well as our existing affordable and rent-controlled housing. Missing middle housing would give Berkeley families more options, and I look forward to continuing to make progress on this goal.