The Oakland City Council will make many important budget decisions this month, but few will have greater impact on the city's future livability and inclusion than maintaining consistent funding in Housing and Community Development for creating affordable homes.
We commend the budget proposal by Mayor Jean Quan that allocates funding for staffing and programming in this budget and the future, and we urge the City Council to incorporate this important investment into the final budget.
East Bay Housing Organizations believes that investment in affordable housing improves health, promotes public safety and supports local economies. Like many cities, Oakland lost a valuable tool in the state's takeover of redevelopment funds. Now, as so-called boomerang redevelopment funds are returned to cities, residents want to know that 25 percent is properly allocated to housing -- now and in the future.
Affordable housing provides great benefits to all Oakland residents. Residents of affordable homes managed by today's nonprofit developers enjoy supportive services, increased consumer spending power, healthier environments, and the opportunity to stabilize and strengthen their neighborhoods.
The economic development benefits of affordable housing investments have been studied and determined substantial by the Center for Housing Policy, noting direct, indirect and induced benefits and multipliers. That is, researchers found affordable housing delivers a "fiscal windfall for municipalities" in increased tax revenues, economic opportunities and job creation.
Eighty jobs are created for every 100 apartments built for low-income families. Devoting 25 percent of boomerang funds to housing wouldn't affect other programs in the general fund, so it's a great investment to ensure that the city's most vulnerable residents have their crucial housing needs met.
Affordable housing budget cuts are the most painful loss in the death of redevelopment. The state Legislature is seeking new methods to replace redevelopment funding and position California communities to keep pace with the demand for affordable homes, however, statewide solutions will only work if leveraged by investment locally.
Other communities, including Fremont and Emeryville, are respecting the needs of their residents by considering proposals to invest local funds in the housing needs of local residents.
Oakland, which has more critical housing needs as rents skyrocket and foreclosures continue, should demonstrate leadership and make an ongoing commitment to fund affordable homes.
It's good for our neighborhoods, our economy and our future.
Amie Fishman is executive director of the East Bay Housing Organizations, a membership organization of nonprofit housing developers and residents.