Redwood City: Our Community, Housing and Our Future Blog Series (Part 2)

More about actions underway or recently completed to help support our community and housing and details about community conversations coming up.

Affording a home in Redwood City and the broader Bay Area is becoming increasingly more challenging. Achieving housing security for all in the community is a focus for the City and why the City Council recently approved several goals to help address this regional issue.

We are all connected. What happens to one part of the community impacts us all. Safe and affordable housing is important to our well-being. For parents with families, housing means good schools, a quality education and successful futures for their children. For working professionals, housing close to your job means more living and less commuting. For those retired with adult children, affordable housing means that your children can have children and live close by.

This two part blog series shares how we all fit into the housing puzzle, details actions underway or recently completed to help support our community, and provides an in depth look at five community conversations taking place (in partnership with Home For All, the County of San Mateo Initiative, Redwood City 2020, Library Foundation). To read Part 1 in this series where we discussed ways the City is increasing affordable housing in the community, go here.

The second part in this blog series focuses on other City’s goals to achieve housing security for all in the community including preserving existing affordable housing, creating new funding sources, regulations and incentives to produce new affordable housing and developing new renter protection measures.

Here is an in-depth look at the City’s recent actions or progress on efforts underway to support these affordable housing goals.

PRESERVING AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN OUR COMMUNITY

Keeping Existing Housing Affordable

Preserving existing affordable homes is a good investment in our community’s future. The City’s second affordable housing goal seeks to support this solution.

The City works to preserve existing affordable homes in a several ways including investing in existing apartment buildings in order to preserve affordable units and offering home improvement loans to address health, safety and other improvements needed in existing single-family homes and apartment complexes.

Recent efforts to preserve existing affordable housing in our community include facilitating Stanford University’s donation of $1 million to preserve affordable housing at 780 Bradford Street in downtown Redwood City. Purchased by St. Francis Center, the 25-unit apartment complex includes 25 affordable housing units and Stanford’s recent donation will preserve it as affordable rental housing for years to come. For more on this recent announcement, go here.

Two other City supported housing developments that will preserve affordable housing in our community include collaborations with local non-profit housing developers MidPen Housing and HIP Housing Development Corp.

Existing apartments will become deed restricted affordable units because of the City contributing housing funds to the existing apartment buildings located at 1512 Stafford Street and 3752 Rollins Road. 1512 Stafford Street is a 7-unit apartment complex now owned by Hip Housing Development Corp. The City’s investment of $1.5 million in loans will preserve these housing units as affordable. 3752 Rollins Road is a 55-unit apartment complex now owned by MidPen Housing. The City’s investment of $1.1 million will preserve these housing units as affordable.

For more on residential housing developments in Redwood City, go here.

Investing in Our Community Through Home Improvement Loans

In addition to preserving existing affordable homes in Redwood City, the City also offers home improvement loans to help homeowners and rental property owners with replacement of roofs, heaters, windows, and other health and safety improvement items. For rental properties, 51% of the tenants must be low-income which supports the City’s goal of preserving and improving already affordable housing in our community. For more details about this program, go here.

CREATING NEW FUNDING SOURCES TO SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN OUR COMMUNITY

The major hurdle when creating affordable housing is the overall cost, specially the land and construction costs. This is true both for the development of new housing and when preserving existing homes. To help solve this problem, the City recently approved two different requirements that will generate funding for affordable housing in the future.

Generating Funding For Affordable Housing Through Short-Term Rentals

The City Council recently held a public hearing and took initial steps to regulate short-term rentals (Airbnb and others), and dedicate the transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) revenue generated to the City’s affordable housing fund. Redwood City is the first community in the region to dedicate taxes generated by short-term housing to support affordable housing.

Housing Developers Pay Fees To Help Create New Affordable Housing In Our Community

The City Council also approved affordable housing impact fees to help pay for the creation of new affordable housing in our community. This action requires new residential and commercial developments in our community to pay fees to support the creation and development of affordable housing. The estimated affordable housing impact fees generated from developers dedicated to affordable housing are approximately $5.5 million in 2018. These fees include estimates of potential fees generated from projects under consideration. This funding is set aside in the Affordable Housing Fund.

To learn more about the City’s Affordable Housing Impact Fees, go here.

We Want To Hear From You About Funding Priorities to Support Affordable Housing

On June 25, the City Council will consider funding guidelines to begin to allocate funding from the Affordable Housing Fund to support affordable housing. We are seeking input on affordable housing priorities to help inform the City Council. Join the Housing and Human Concerns Committee on May 22 for a community conversation about affordable housing funding priorities. Feedback gained will help establish funding guidelines to fund future affordable housing priorities.

To learn more about this effort, go here.

NEW PROGRAMS AND NEW REGULATIONS AIMED TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY MEMBERS RENTING IN AN EFFORT TO SUPPORT HOUSING SECURITY

New Programs to Support Community Members Renting

With all of these challenges in mind, on March 26, the City Council approved ordinances to require minimum rental lease terms and renter relocation assistance for rental properties with three or more units in Redwood City.

The Housing and Human Concerns Committee (HHCC) recommended renter policy changes to support housing security for renters in our community. Following several input sessions where they heard community stories about steep rental increases and families having 30 days or less to find a new home; the disruption this has caused youth going to school and having to change schools, and other related challenges, recommendations were sent to the City Council for further discussion. There were three policies that were recommended by HHCC and the City Council: minimum lease terms, renter relocation assistance and creation of a new ordinance that would require that a certain percentage of all new housing development be affordable to lower income residents (inclusionary housing).

Minimum Lease Terms

The Minimum Lease Term policy requires property owners (with three or more units) to offer a minimum one-year lease to provide more stability for renting community members by protecting them against rent increases for the duration of the lease period.

Renter Relocation Assistance

The policy supporting renter relocation assistance is to alleviate some of the trauma and disruption to renting community members and their families caused by an unforeseen need for relocation (i.e., children leaving school mid‐year) by addressing some of the financial impacts. Securing replacement housing generally requires a significant amount of money for expenses related to a physical move, such as first and last month’s rent and security deposits. Projects assisted with Federal and State funds are subject to requirements to provide relocation assistance to households displaced by those projects. There is currently no State mandate for rental property owners to assist displaced tenants by compensating for relocation costs. While an unanticipated move may be challenging for any tenant, it is especially difficult for extremely low, very low and low-income households. The ordinance requires a minimum of three months’ rent to assist low-income tenants with first and last month’s rent and a security deposit for securing a replacement unit in cases of displacement.

These new City requirements will take effect on January 1, 2019, following extensive outreach to rental tenants and rental property owners in our community to inform and educate about these new policies.

Affordable Housing Requirements in New Developments

On May 21, the City Council will consider establishing affordable housing requirements in developments, also known as inclusionary housing (based on new state law that will allow for this). For more on this effort, go here.

Other Community Programs and Services to Support Community Members Renting

Do you need help with a challenging rental housing issue? Are you looking for affordable housing? Here are some programs and online resources that might help you.

Project Sentinel provides Tenant/Landlord Assistance and Fair Housing education, counseling, investigation, conciliation, advocacy, and enforcement services at no cost to Redwood City residents. When appropriate, they connect clients with free legal representation.

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County provides tenant/landlord assistance and helps tenants who are having problems with their property owners. They offer legal counseling, advice, and representation for evictions, disputes over the condition of the premises and illegal acts by property owners. Legal Aid holds weekly housing clinics. Appointments are recommended and tenants may call Legal Aid at 650–517–8911 to set up an appointment. In addition, Legal Aid offers Housing Clinics in Redwood City to support community members in need.

Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center offers mediation services for landlord/tenant and neighbor/neighbor disputes and training for community organizations. Other resources include the California Tenants — A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities, a guide answering many questions tenants and landlords have regarding rights and responsibilities. NOLO is a website that publishes helpful law articles regarding tenant and landlord issues. Go here for Tenant Information and here for Landlord Information.

For more information, go here.

OUR COMMUNITY: HOUSING AND OUR FUTURE –A SERIES OF COMMUNITY DIALOGUES

The City, in partnership with Redwood City 2020, the County’s Home For All initiative and the Library Foundation, will co-host a series of community dialogues on housing named Our Community: Housing and Our Future. Join community members and learn about trends and what is happening with housing in our community and share your perspectives. These discussions include a mix of community conversations and City Council discussions as they consider housing-related policies this spring.

Please consider joining us for one or all of these opportunities to discuss this important issue facing our community.

Here is a list of the housing dialogues and Council discussions coming up:

· March 26: City Council Discussion: City Council to consider minimum lease terms and renter relocation assistance

· April 11: Community Conversation: Learn about trends of who lives and works in Redwood City and what is happening with housing. Come share your perspectives. RSVP by going here.

· May 21: City Council Discussion: City Council to consider affordable housing requirements in developments

· May 22: Community Conversation: Join the Housing and Human Concerns Committee for a community conversation about affordable housing and provide input for how to allocate affordable housing fees

· June 25 City Council Discussion: City Council to consider use of affordable housing fees

For event details on all of the discussions listed above, go to www.redwoodcity.org/ourcommunityandhousing.

LEARN MORE: ONLINE RESOURCES

Want to learn more about affordable housing initiatives in the City of Redwood City? Go here to learn about housing services, affordable housing, and more.

For other housing related resources, go here.

For part 1 in this housing blog series, go here.

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