I have experienced our City’s housing crisis painfully from multiple perspectives. My working mother raised my sister and me in low-income housing. My partner and I lost our rent-controlled apartment in Southside Telegraph weeks before our wedding. Due to the high cost of housing in Berkeley and my needing to provide bedside elder care for my mother, I now live separately from my spouse who lives with roommates in Richmond. One of my grandmothers is a homeowner in South Berkeley, and my other grandmother sold her home in West Berkeley. Keeping families in our community requires a serious commitment to the production, preservation, and protection of affordable homes—and evidence-based strategies for reducing the cost of housing for a wide range of incomes.
Here are some strategies I’m currently pursuing:
- Stronger enforcement on the City’s ban on source-of-income discrimination.
- Social housing pilot program to promote reparative justice investments in public housing, long-term leasehold ownership and community land trusts in a fiscally-self sustaining agency.
- Helping tenants purchase their homes to maintain long-term affordability with the help of limited-equity housing cooperatives and community land trusts.
- To increase the production of homes for middle and low-income households, I support:
- Streamlined and secure funding for climate-friendly affordable housing that provides high-paying union construction jobs.
- City-wide quadplex zoning and density bonuses, eliminating exclusionary zoning and prioritizing affordable housing while increasing the supply of homes for all incomes, especially in affluent, high-opportunity neighborhoods.
- Increased funding for permanent supportive housing in the city’s budget.
- Providing resources for low-income homeowners to maintain their homes and remain in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the City of Berkeley doing in the short- and long-term to address homelessness?
First and foremost, if you see anyone in distress, we strongly encourage contacting the city’s Housing Outreach and Treatment Team (HOTT) at 510-981-5273. This page also has contact info for community resources and services provided by HHCS. We believe all residents, including unhoused residents, renters and property owners alike, deserve respect and compassionate care.
The city council has budgeted for more permanent supportive housing which will need to be built, and more immediately, the city council has approved a contract with Dorothy Day House for a new shelter on Grayson street, which will be opening soon. As far as long-term solutions, you may find more detailed information in this City Manager memo on Berkeley’s 1000 Person Plan. It’s a very detailed and ambitious plan, but a summary of the five recommended interventions begins on page 24 of the document (page numbers at the top, not the bottom). The recommendations in this plan are central to our office’s work in addressing the root causes of homelessness.
Additionally, it is important to note there is judicial precedent under the Boise decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which the US Supreme Court declined to review, that effectively prohibits the western states under the court’s jurisdiction from removing homeless individuals who are sleeping on public property if no alternative shelter can be provided. Unfortunately, that does describe Berkeley’s insufficient shelter capacity.
This issue requires state and regional collaboration, as the needs of the population outpace our capacity as a City to act on it alone. Because we greatly rely on county resources, we are in regular contact with Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson’s office. During the Pandemic, the priority is safe shelter, so the county is managing Project Roomkey and transitioning hotel rooms to permanent housing under Project Homekey. We are hoping to see this program accelerate in the near future with a city and county collaboration on future funding applications.
- Councilmember Taplin Proposes Affordable Housing Overlay for Berkeley with Councilmembers Bartlett and Robinson as CosponsorsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 22, 2021 Modeled after a new policy in Cambridge, MA, and a state density bonus established by Assembly Bill 1763 (2019), the proposal would permit up to an additional 6 stories as-of-right for 100% affordable housing in some neighborhoods, one additional story as-of-right in single-family neighborhoods, and aiming for 8 total stories as-of-right […]
- CM Taplin Proposes “Housing as Human Right” Resolution with Social Housing Pilot ProgramFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFebruary 9, 2021 BERKELEY, CA—City Councilmember Terry Taplin has introduced a resolution to recognize housing as a human right in the City of Berkeley. Cosponsored by Councilmembers Hahn, Harrison, and Mayor Arreguín, the resolution calls for holding city government accountable to this ideal with objective measures for tracking security of tenure and freedom of mobility […]