June 2, 2022 (Updated: June 5, 2022 6:50 p.m.)
Click here to read the entire article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
An anti-discrimination group says it has settled its case against owners of an apartment complex in Marin County who had refused to offer any of their 646 units to anyone in the Section 8 program, which provides financial aid to low-income renters.
Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California said it was contacted in 2020 by a woman who said she had wanted to rent an apartment at Bon Air Apartments in Greenbrae but had been told by the owners, Greenbrae Management, that they did not accept vouchers under Section 8, which are subsidized by the federal government. Such refusals are permitted by federal law but are prohibited by California law, which since 2019 has barred housing discrimination based on the source of a renter’s income.
The advocacy group said it started holding workshops for property owners in the area to inform them of the law, and posted flyers in stores, restaurants and other business locations in Marin and Sonoma counties. It also filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and sent its own investigators, posing as renters, to Greenbrae Management.
Click here to read the entire article in the Marin IJ.
The need for housing is acute across Marin County, yet how to address the tremendous need is a thicket of issues and conflicting perspectives.
The good news is that residents can help with an update to the local housing element, which provides an analysis of a community’s housing needs for all income levels and seeks to offer strategies that will respond to them.
By law, the housing element is required as part of the county’s general plan. The 2022 update, happening now, will guide policy and practice through 2030. If a pathway to housing that allows essential workers, students, and people of color to live here is to be achieved, we must seize this moment to address local affordability as key to achieving racial and economic equity.
Challenges around housing affordability in Marin and the greater Bay Area are well known. Issues of affordability for renters in Marin, where 38% of current housing is renter-occupied, deserve particular attention. For approximately 55% of Marin renters, the cost of their current housing exceeds the threshold of what is considered affordable. This means that they pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
Even more concerning, at least 25% of renters currently pay more than 50% of their income toward housing costs.
The lack of affordability undermines individual and family stability. It has ripple effects throughout our community, from the ability of local businesses to hire and retain workers, to increased traffic and commute times when workers cannot afford to live locally.
More concerning and perhaps less well known are the racial disparities present in Marin’s current housing landscape. Homelessness and housing insecurity disproportionately impact people of color, families with children and people with disabilities. These groups are protected under state and federal fair housing laws. But in Marin, a disproportionate share of renters are people of color. Though they are only 18% of the population, 71% of Latinos and 70% of African Americans rent in Marin.
Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer
Feb. 7, 2022: Updated: Feb. 7, 2022 6:45 p.m.
Read the article on the SF Chronicle's website here.
Read FHANC's press release for this settlement here.
Housing-rights advocates announced a settlement Monday that will provide $53 million in government aid to minority home-buyers and homeowners in 39 U.S. metropolitan areas, including two in the Bay Area, Vallejo and Richmond/Oakland.
The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed in Oakland in 2016 accusing the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, of racial discrimination in its foreclosure practices: providing maintenance to homes on which it had foreclosed in largely white areas, while allowing foreclosed homes in communities of color to deteriorate, harming their neighborhoods and future residents.
The settlement does not include any admission of wrongdoing but requires the agency to assist residents in the affected districts. According to Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, more than $35 million will be used nationwide to promote home ownership, renovate housing and provide assistance with credit and down payments.
Of those funds, $755,000 will go to each of the the two Bay Area districts for neighborhood rehabilitation, and additional sums will be available for fair-housing services, said the group’s executive director, Caroline Peattie.
She said the suit followed a four-year investigation of more than 2,300 foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae, including 68 in Vallejo and nearby Solano County neighborhoods and 88 in Oakland and Richmond.
According to the suit, more than 39% of foreclosed homes in Black or Latinx neighborhoods had trash visible on the property, 25% had unsecured or broken doors, and more than 41% had damaged, boarded or unsecured windows, more than twice the rates of such disrepair in homes taken over by Fannie Mae in white neighborhoods.
The agency sought to dismiss the suit, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in 2019 that the housing-rights groups could try to prove that Fannie Mae violated fair-housing laws by failing to change its conduct after being notified of the investigation and its findings. The groups said it was the first federal court ruling to conclude that housing-discrimination laws applied to foreclosed properties owned by the agency.
“We poured a lot of time and effort into investigating the differences between the marketing and maintenance of foreclosed homes in communities of color compared to white communities, because we knew how big an impact this can have on the health and well-being - financial and otherwise - of neighborhoods with foreclosed properties,” Peattie said in a statement. “We are excited that Fannie Mae has made the commitments it has in this settlement.”
Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BobEgelko
A Black couple in Northern California says an appraiser undervalued their home by nearly half a million dollars because of their race. They took the unusual action of asking a White friend to show the home for a second appraisal, which was significantly higher. Anna Werner has the story.
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By RICHARD HALSTEAD | email@example.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: December 6, 2021 at 6:17 p.m. | UPDATED: December 8, 2021 at 7:28 a.m.
Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California and a Marin City couple have sued a San Rafael appraiser in federal court for alleged race discrimination.
Paul Austin and his wife, Tenisha Tate-Austin, both of whom are Black, were surprised when the appraisal of their home in February 2020 came back $455,000 lower than an appraisal done in March 2019.
The Austins sought the appraisal because they wanted to take advantage of lower interest rates and obtain additional funding to complete home improvements.
Janette Miller of Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers conducted the second audit and is named as a defendant in the suit along with AMC Links LLC, which hired her to do the job at the request of the Austins’ mortgage broker.
“We believe that Ms. Miller valued our house at a lower rate because of our race and because of the current and historical racial demographics of where our house is located,” Austin said. “The sales comps that the appraiser chose to use were unsuitable and were guaranteed to lower the value of our house.”
To test their suspicion of discrimination, the Austins sought another appraisal. This time they took steps to ensure that the appraiser would not know that they are Black.
They packed away their family photos and removed any art that was African or African American. They also had a White friend greet the appraiser as if she was the homeowner when the appraiser visited the house.
“The fact that there was nearly a half a million dollar bump in value after they erased themselves from their home is very strong evidence, we believe, of race discrimination,” said Julia Howard-Gibbon, a lawyer for Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California.
Neither Miller nor AMC Links responded to requests for comment Monday.
The suit makes clear that there were important differences between the way the two appraisers, both hired by AMC Links, arrived at their valuations.
Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, mortgage lenders and brokers are no longer allowed to employ or contract with an appraiser directly. They must instead contract with management companies such as AMC Links that hire independent appraisers.
“We also believe that the (first) appraiser took race into account when she valued the home by comparing it to sales primarily in Marin City,” Howard-Gibbon said, “rather than a larger radius around the home.”
The suit asserts that appraising a house in Marin City using comparisons of other property sales located exclusively or primarily in Marin City results in a skewed and race-based valuation of the property.
“Marin City has a long history of undervaluation based on stereotypes, redlining, discriminatory appraisal standards, and actual or perceived racial demographics,” the suit states. “Choosing to use comps located in Marin City means that the valuation is dictated by these past sale prices, which were the direct product of racial discrimination.”
When doing her sales comparisons, Miller used three properties in Marin City, two in Mill Valley and one in Sausalito. The second appraiser used two properties in Marin City and six in Sausalito.
“Pulling comps within the neighborhood of the home and near the home isn’t in and of itself problematic, if there are recent comparable sales,” Howard-Gibbon said.
The suit asserts this was not the case. It quotes Miller as writing in her appraisal that she based her valuation on five years of Marin City homes sales, where no one year had more than four sales. As a result, the suit says, Miller’s opinion is fundamentally flawed because of the small number of home sales per year.
The suit also identifies other problems with the approach that Miller took. It says Miller’s market analysis was dated, looking at no sales more recent than 2008. It faults Miller for lowering the valuation per square foot on the houses located outside of Marin City that she used for comparison purposes.
“Miller opined that she looked at several years of data and determined that houses in Marin City were worth ‘conservatively’ 25% less per square foot than those in ‘surrounding areas,'” the suit alleges.
The suit asserts that two of the three Marin City homes used in the sales comparisons were unlike the Austins’ home.
A Brookings Institution study released in 2018 reported that houses in majority Black neighborhoods in U.S. metropolitan areas were appraised for 23% less than properties in mostly White neighborhoods, despite having similar quality and amenities.
The response from appraisers at the time was that their job is to assess local market conditions, not to create the conditions.
The plaintiffs in the Marin City suit are seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, statutory damages and punitive damages, in addition to attorneys’ fees and expenses.
According to the suit, the Austins have suffered “emotional distress with attendant physical injuries, and violation of their civil rights.” The plaintiffs have requested a jury trial.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco. The defendants have not filed responses and have no attorneys listed in the court docket.
An initial case management conference is scheduled for March 4.
A Black couple says an appraiser lowballed them. So, they ‘whitewashed’ their home and say the value shot up.
Click here to read the article in the Washington Post.
By Jonathan Edwards
December 6, 2021 at 7:22 a.m. EST
Paul Austin said he felt good as the appraiser roamed his Northern California home last year, ticking off some of the $400,000 worth of improvements he and his wife had made to the property.
The appraiser noted the new fireplace, Austin told a state reparations task force in October, mentioned a room they’d added and complimented the view from the new deck.
So Austin and his wife were shocked when the appraiser pegged the value of their Marin City home in the San Francisco Bay area at $995,000, far lower than previous appraisals.
“It was a slap in the face,” Austin told KGO-TV in February.
Austin and his wife, Tenisha Tate-Austin decided to get another opinion three weeks later, they say in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco. This time, they enlisted the help of their White friend Jan who agreed to pretend to be the homeowner for a different appraiser, the lawsuit alleges. The Austins “whitewashed” their house by removing their family photos and stripping the walls of their African-themed art. Jan helped on this front, too, by staging photos of her own family, the lawsuit states.
The new appraisal came in at $1.48 million — nearly a half-million more than the previous estimate.
The Austins, according to the lawsuit, believe the first appraiser, Janette Miller, gave them a lowball valuation because they’re Black. The couple and the nonprofit Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California are now suing Miller and her company, Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisals in San Rafael. They’re seeking financial damages and asking the court to order the defendants to ensure they won’t discriminate when appraising houses.
Miller and her appraisal company did not respond to messages from The Washington Post sent late Sunday night. Attorneys with Fair Housing Advocates, who are representing themselves and the Austin family, also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Austin told the state reparations task force in October he believes the property was devalued “because we are in a Black neighborhood, and the home belonged to a Black family.”
Other Black homeowners have reported similar experiences. The value of a woman’s Indiana home more than doubled between appraisals last year after she stripped it of all evidence that it was owned by a Black person and a White family friend stood in as the homeowner. Earlier this year, a Black family in Ohio removed family photos, artwork and their 6-year-old daughter’s superhero pictures, replacing them with belongings their White neighbors offered up. The appraised value of their house went from $465,000 to about $560,000.
A 2018 study by the Brookings Institution found that homes in Black neighborhoods in U.S. metropolitan areas were undervalued by an average of $48,000, amounting to $156 billion in losses. Differences in the quality of the houses and neighborhoods didn’t fully explain the gap, according to the study led by Andre Perry, senior fellow for Brookings Metro who studies housing discrimination.
“It’s almost when people see Black neighborhoods, they see twice as much crime than there actually is. They see worse education than there actually is,” Perry told the Indianapolis Star. “I think this is what’s happening when appraisers, lenders, real estate agents see Blackness. They devalue the asset. They devalue the property.”
As for the Austins, they bought the four-bedroom, two-bath house in 2016 for $550,000 when it had 1,248 square feet. Before purchasing, they’d struggled to compete in a hot housing market. But the previous owners, keen on helping a Black couple achieve homeownership, sold them the place off market.
Over the next two years, the Austins spent $400,000 to improve their new home, they say in their lawsuit. They installed new appliances and fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms. They refinished the hardwood floors, replaced windows and painted the inside.
In May 2018, a new appraisal concluded the house was worth $864,000, according to the lawsuit.
The Austins kept renovating. They added a new foundation and retaining wall, creating more living space on the basement level. They put in a deck and a gas fireplace. They carved out a separate unit, with its own kitchen and bathroom, that could be used as a home office or a rental.
Through all the renovations, the Austins nearly doubled the house’s square footage.
“It was work, but it was exciting,” Austin said in the KGO interview.
In March 2019, the Austins, when applying to refinance their mortgage again, got another appraisal, which pegged the house’s value at $1.45 million, the lawsuit states. Rates kept dropping, so they decided to refinance again in early 2020, which led to the Miller appraisal.
Austin told the panel on state reparations that Miller’s alleged lowball valuation upset him. His grandparents migrated from the South to the Marin City area in the 1940s to work in the shipyards in nearby Sausalito. They tried to move out, Austin said, but segregationist practices trapped them.
Now, some 80 years later, Austin said he feels he’s dealing with vestiges of that racism. He hopes his lawsuit puts a stop to it.
“I do want to see a change,” he told the panel, “because I don’t want to see my children have to deal with this.”
Click here to read the article on the Housing Wire website.
December 6, 2021, 5:22 pm By Matthew Blake
A San Rafael, California real estate appraiser is being sued for allegedly undervaluing a home by almost 50% because the homeowners are Black.
Sausalito, California homeowners Tenisha Tate-Austin and Paul Austin, along with Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday alleging race discrimination against Janette C. Miller of Miller & Perotti Real Estate Appraisal and AMC Links LLC, an appraisal management company headquartered in Lehi, Utah.
Messages left with Miller and AMC Links on Monday were not returned.
The lawsuit is the latest instance of Black homeowners stating that an appraiser has, because of conscious or subconscious racism, thought less of their home’s value, and that no one intervened to overrule the appraiser’s prejudice. By many appraisers own admission, their profession is old and white, and faced with a growing number of race discrimination complaints, though the extent of these complaints is unclear.
According to the lawsuit, Tate-Austin, and her husband Austin bought a house in Marin County for $550,000 in 2016. Over the next four years, the couple completely remodeled the home, and later added an accessory dwelling unit. They refinanced their mortgage in 2018 and 2019, and sought to do so again in 2020.
It was in this third iteration of mortgage refinancing where the alleged appraisal bias occurred.
Miller who, according to her LinkedIn, has operated Miller & Perotti appraisal services since 1992, valued the home at $992,000.
The Austins claim Miller was lowballing them because of their race. In response, the Austins brought in a new appraiser, who the complaint does not identify, and “white-washed” their house prior to the appraisal.
“They packed away their family photos, which depicted the house’s occupants as an African American family,” the complaint reads. “They also removed and stored any art that was African or African American themed and stored it where it would not be visible.”
Moreover, the Austin’s had a white friend pose as the property’s owner. This friend, “placed some of her own family photos, depicting her white family” around the house “prior to the inspection.”
The new appraiser valued the home at $1.482 million – 49% more than Miller’s valuation.
Besides the evidence drawn from the second appraisal, the Austins claim that Miller was biased because of the sales comparisons she used in valuing the home. Miller’s comparisons included homes in nearby Marin City, the complaint states, that were not like the Austins’ home but may have been selected because Marin City has a higher Black population relative to the rest of Marin County.
The complaint does not delve into why AMC Links is also being sued besides a sentence stating that the firm failed to review Miller’s valuation to ensure that it met the Appraisal Foundation’s published standards and was not influenced by race.
Appraisal management companies such as AMC Links typically play matchmaker between mortgage lender and appraiser. Federal regulators have envisioned appraisal management companies as a firewall between appraiser and lender.
Fair Housing of Northern California also names itself as a plaintiff, contending that their investigation into the Austin appraisal, “diverted resources, including staff time and financial resources, from other investigations and activities.”
In July, Fair Housing of Northern California filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of Cora Robinson, who alleged racial bias against Class Valuation, an appraisal management company, and Thomas Kearney, an individual appraiser.
In addition to officially filed complaints, the Washington Post, New York Times and other widely read publications have anecdotally reported on racial bias in appraisals. However, it is unclear how rampant bias complaints are.
For one, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has repeatedly declined to disclose to HousingWire the number of appraiser bias complaints it has received. In a November interview, Melody Taylor, executive director of HUD’s Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity task force, stated that, “Due to confidentiality filings, HUD does not disclose the complaints we receive.”
HUD has also told HousingWire it does not disclose investigations that are still pending.
In addition to HUD and a few private lawsuits, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau also receives complaints about appraisers. That federal agency has received 14 such complaints since 2019, though CFPB does not categorize such alleged misconduct as specifically regarding race discrimination.
A Black couple ‘erased themselves’ from their home to see if the appraised value would go up. It did — by nearly $500,000
Dec. 3, 2021 Updated: Dec. 5, 2021 6:29 p.m.
Paul Austin thought things were going well when the appraiser came to his Marin City home last January.
The appraiser complimented the views of the San Francisco Bay, and he was sure to point out all the improvements, Austin recalled at an Oct. 13 meeting of a state reparations task force. So he and his wife Tenisha Tate-Austin were shocked when the appraisal valued their home at $995,000 — nearly half-a-million dollars less than another appraisal 10 months earlier.
The couple, who are Black, got a second opinion last February. This time, they asked a white friend named Jan to sit at the kitchen island and pretend to be the homeowner. They also “whitewashed” their home by hiding art and family photos. That appraiser said their house was worth $1,482,500.
The $487,500 discrepancy between the two 2020 appraisals pushed the couple to file a fair housing lawsuit in federal district court this week against appraiser Janette Miller, her firm Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisers Inc., and national appraisal company AMC Links LLC. It’s the latest escalation in a series of similar cases of alleged racial bias in the home appraisal process as California property owners move to reap financial gains from record home prices.
“We did our homework,” Austin told the Reparations Task Force in a panel on the racial wealth gap in October. “We believe the white lady wanted to devalue our property because we are in a Black neighborhood, and the home belonged to a Black family.”
Miller’s firm and AMC Links did not respond to requests for comment.
Researchers at the Brookings Institution have found that owner-occupied homes in majority-Black U.S. neighborhoods are undervalued by an average $48,000 per home, representing some $156 billion in cumulative losses — a dynamic that has prompted calls for policy reform to automate more of the home valuation process and otherwise minimize bias. Some in the appraisal industry, meanwhile, contend that the process is inherently subjective and driven by extreme pressure to increase home values, opening appraisers to unfair personal liability when homeowners disagree with the results.
In the case of Austin and Tate-Austin, the large appraisal discrepancy illustrates how even Bay Area residents able to purchase a home in one of the nation’s most expensive real estate markets can be shut out of some of the massive wealth generated by increasing property values.
The Austin family bought the home in late 2016 for $550,000, according to the lawsuit, and Austin said they spent around $400,000 expanding the footprint, renovating the interior and adding features like an outdoor deck and an in-law unit with bay views. With the higher second appraisal designed to take race out of the equation, the home is now worth nearly triple what they paid five years ago.
“There are definitely things about this complaint that are uniquely strong,” said the couple’s attorney, Julia Howard-Gibbon of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California. “They erased themselves from the home, essentially.”
Though similar cases with extreme differences in appraisal values have also surfaced in Oakland, Stockton and other California cities with large Black populations, the new lawsuit revolves around the North Bay’s unique racial dynamics.
Austin knows firsthand that Marin City, an unincorporated area wedged between affluent Sausalito and Mill Valley, grew out of the pre-World War II migration of tens of thousands of Black workers seeking employment around the Sausalito shipyard. His own grandparents lived and worked there.
Though they saved money to move to other areas of Marin County, Austin said in his October testimony, they were unable to buy property elsewhere because of exclusionary practices like discriminatory bank lending and racial covenants.
The fact that his family encountered what seemed like a new version of the same old problem more than a half-century later, he said at the October meeting, made him feel ill.
“My stomach hurt, my head hurt, just because of what we went through,” Austin said. “I don’t wish that on anybody.”
Attorneys for the couple argue in the new lawsuit that “Marin City has a long history of undervaluation based on stereotypes, redlining, discriminatory appraisal standards, and actual or perceived racial demographics.”
By focusing the first appraisal only on the small number of homes sold in the immediate Marin City area, Howard-Gibbon said the appraiser “built an invisible barrier” around the home by comparing it only to other sale prices in a long-marginalized area — a result she called “recycled discrimination.”
The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, financial damages and a court order directing the appraisers to take action to ensure the issues in the complaint are not repeated.
Austin said at the October meeting that he is also focused on ongoing issues like recent desegregation orders issued for Marin County schools. He still can’t help but notice that neighbors’ homes on smaller lots have already crept up to values around $1.6 or $1.7 million.
“Yes, I do want to see a change,” Austin said. “I don’t want to see my children have to deal with this.”
Lauren Hepler is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LAHepler
Universal Section 8 and Fair Housing enforcement: A formula for housing stability for America's renters
BY JACQUELINE WAGGONER, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 11/14/21 07:00 PM EST
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
Housing is foundational to a just and equitable recovery. Relief programs for the millions of people whose livelihoods have been upended by COVID-19—rental assistance, eviction moratoria, and others—have been essential but temporary by design. However, the impacts of the pandemic are long lasting, adding to the severe affordable housing challenges that existed long before the current crisis. It’s time to enact long-term solutions that protect and keep America’s renters stably housed.
Fortunately, we know what works. One of the most impactful legislative measures that the federal government can implement to improve housing stability for families and individuals is the expansion of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, which enables very low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities to afford quality housing. Universal Section 8 was a priority on President Biden’s housing agenda during his presidential campaign. Now is the time to implement it!
Section 8 is vital for preventing people from experiencing homelessness in a real estate market that has witnessed skyrocketing rents across the country. It also enacts fair housing protections for families of color, who have been systematically denied housing choices due to practices such as redlining, exclusionary zoning, and steering. More than 2.1 million U.S. households benefit from housing choice vouchers in a given year, and families of color make up the majority of this population.
At the same time, the federal government should require that all landlords nationwide accept housing vouchers. Section 8 only works if federal rental assistance is classified as a legal form of rent payment everywhere. But most U.S. cities and states currently allow landlords to deny a tenant housing if they plan to use non-wage income like veterans’ benefits or Section 8 to pay their rent, through a practice called Source of Income (SOI) discrimination.
Changing the systems that allow income bias to persist requires federal legislation making SOI discrimination illegal nationwide, with sufficient funding to enforce it. In New York, the Statewide Source of Income Coalition led by Enterprise Community Partners successfully fought to make SOI discrimination illegal statewide in 2019—but a recent investigation by Housing Rights Initiative into 88 New York City landlords found that people paying rent with Section 8 vouchers and other non-wage benefits still experience bias.
Similarly, in 2019 California passed SB329, a state fair housing law that made housing vouchers a protected source of income; yet recent investigations from Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California have shown that SOI discrimination still persists, with landlords creating illegal workarounds to avoid accepting vouchers. Washington, D.C., also passed source of income protections in 2005 but, as recently as 2018, 15% of District landlords still rejected voucher holders, according to The Urban Institute.
While landlords may refuse Section 8 vouchers for a variety of reasons, the decision is ultimately a proxy for keeping people with low incomes, particularly Black and Latino residents, out of their properties—and local and state actions can only go so far in solving this problem. Our communities need legal source of income protections and adequate enforcement measures at the federal level. Only this two-pronged approach that introduces key legislation and provides the resources to enforce it will end income bias and safeguard housing for the roughly 11 million Americans who need and use federal assistance to pay their rent.
As a candidate, President Biden pledged to make Section 8 universal, and his FY 2022 budget called for $5.4 billion for an expansion of vouchers. We urge Congress to include the Section 8 expansion in its FY 2022 appropriations legislation. Furthermore, to meet his goal of “building back better,” and enact true systems change, President Biden must fight for Section 8 expansion and push Congress to pass accompanying legislation codifying the protection of non-wage forms of income for rent payment.
It’s also essential for state and city leaders to do their part by allocating funding to enforce and raise awareness for existing SOI and fair housing laws. State and city agencies should conduct SOI “Know Your Rights” trainings and outreach campaigns. Local governments have a robust understanding of housing issues on the ground and can target residents with the greatest needs.
Everyone deserves a place to call home, and now is the time to implement transformational, long-term solutions for housing stability. President Biden and Congress must act quickly in pairing Universal Section 8 with federal SOI protections and enforcement. State and local governments should then follow suit with greater fair housing enforcement and awareness campaigns. With urgency and teamwork, but most importantly, humanity and a commitment to constituents, our leaders can uplift the most vulnerable Americans with the hope of a stable home.
Jacqueline Waggoner is president of the Solutions division at Enterprise Community Partners, a national affordable housing nonprofit.
By NATALIE HANSON | email@example.com |
PUBLISHED: September 12, 2021 at 5:34 p.m. | UPDATED: September 12, 2021 at 5:35 p.m.
Read the article here.
Marin’s cities and towns are preparing to update key housing policies as a historic housing crisis looms.
Local governments must submit a draft housing element in June and have the document complete by January 2023. The process is expected to pit old pressures to curtail growth against increasing demands to shelter growing numbers of people unable to find a home.
Community leaders say they will move forward this month under the assumption they will have to identify the required number of residences according to numbers prescribed by the state, even as appeal hearings with communities challenging their assignments are scheduled with Association of Bay Area Governments through October. Most Marin communities filed appeals to the state’s housing mandates, citing strained resources.
“It’s very difficult to have an entirely suburban, bordering on rural in some places, county, that is part of a bigger urban metropolitan area and be in stuck in the same system,” Larkspur City Manager Dan Schwarz said.
“It’s not good public policy for us to (create many) units in areas that have to cope with those dangers,” he said. “If things play out that we need to accommodate so many more units, then we have to have a discussion with the community about, how do we bring in this level of housing in a way that meshes with our community character?”
Last week, the Larkspur City Council approved contracts to lead public outreach and appointed a steering committee, although outreach sessions are not set until after the city’s ABAG appeal hearing in October. Mill Valley will begin housing element workshops next week. Fairfax has already held a workshop hosted by the town’s affordable housing committee and will hold a joint Planning Commission and Town Council meeting Sept. 22.
Fairfax Planning and Building Services Director Ben Berto said, “There’s been widespread support for affordable housing in the discussion we’ve had so far. We’re focusing on what is called a ‘missing middle’ housing strategy.”
Berto wasn’t specific about that strategy, but said it recognizes the changing needs of homeowners, creating options such as duplexes, small complexes of multiple-unit housing and adding infill in residential neighborhoods “where appropriate.”
”We’re definitely committed to providing housing, it’s just a question of what level and what circumstances. We need to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for the town.”