City Must Stimulate Affordable Housing

City Must Stimulate Affordable Housing

Rising rents, housing prices and evictions throughout Alameda and the Bay area illustrate Paul Foreman’s point (“Rethink affordable housing in Alameda,” March 26) that “we have a long way to go to meet the affordable housing goal” the State set in Alameda’s 2015-2023 housing element. Foreman also notes that the for-profit housing market, as currently regulated by the city and state, has not, and cannot, construct the housing our workforce needs.

The solution Foreman proposes — funding from government and non-profit organizations to build affordable housing —  has provided some of the needed housing. As both Foreman and Mark Greenside (“Playing the Mumbo-Jumbo, Flim-Flam Housing Game,” March 6) recommend, the city should seek more partnerships with nonprofit agencies that exclusively build affordable housing using federal and other funding sources.

Such funding will not suffice, though, so our city must also partner with America’s most resourceful sector — the private sector.

As demand for housing in Alameda continues to exceed supply, both developers and businesses recognize that new housing will benefit our local economy. Developers benefit for a few years while the housing is constructed while businesses and citizens benefit for decades from both the expanded markets and the workforce created by more residents.

With the economy recovering, now is the time to expand on three city measures that have already proven they stimulate the private sector to build affordable housing in Alameda. The first would require all new housing developments in Alameda to guarantee that 25 percent of their homes be affordable.

Alameda Point Partners, a developer, has already made such a guarantee for Site A at Alameda Point and is committed to building 200 affordable units there.

The second measure would apply the multi-family overlay to residential sites at Alameda Point, not just along the Oakland Estuary and parts of Buena Vista Avenue. This overlay provides incentives for developers to make 50 percent of their units affordable.

The third measure would review the housing impact fee that we charge new businesses to support affordable housing and services. Rents and housing prices soaring to all-time highs suggest that it may cost more to house workers now than when the current fee was set.

Developers, businesses and residents working together to implement these measures can ensure that Alameda houses more of the new residents needed to fully benefit from the regional economy.

William Smith is an Alameda resident.