Voters OK a slew of affordable housing measures around the U.S.

Thu, 2016-11-10 13:24 -- Compassionate C...

One message that came through loud and clear on Nov. 8 is that voters from coast to coast support efforts to help the homeless and build more affordable housing units in their cities. And in many cases they're willing to dig into their pockets to make it happen. If you're looking for positivity in a divided nation, take heart in voters' willingness to help vulnerable neighbors live better lives. – Philip Bane

Voters from Los Angeles to Boston said yes to affordable housing measures on Tuesday's ballots. Here's a quick look at some highlights:

Los Angeles – An overwhelming majority – 76% of voters -- approved LA's massive $1.2 billion bond to pay for housing and services for the area's homeless. The funds would pay for 1,000 apartments a year for 10 years. “I need help, and my brother here needs help,” James Evans told the Los Angeles Times as he and a friend sat outside a mission in wheelchairs on Tuesday. Evans said he hoped the measure could get them off the streets one day. LA voters also passed a measure that would require developers of certain multifamily housing projects with nine or more units to set aside 40% for low-income residents.

San Francisco/Bay Area – Several measures tackling San Francisco's enormous homeless challenge were on the ballot. Voters approved one that would allocate $50 million a year for homeless services and housing, but failed to approve a companion sales tax boost to pay for it. But they did OK repurposing $261 million from an already-approved bond issue for seismic retrofits to go instead for acquiring and rehabbing at-risk multi-unit buildings to provide more affordable housing. And elsewhere in the Bay Area, voters showed strong support for affordable housing measures:

  • Alameda County saw 72% approval for a $580 million housing bond
  • Berkeley passed a measure to develop 500 below market rate units with 83% approval
  • Oakland's bond earmarking $100 million for affordable housing passed with an 82% yes vote
  • Santa Clara County's request to borrow up to $950 million to create and preserve 5,000 affordable units passed with 67% approval
  • San Mateo County voters said yes to a sales tax hike to fund affordable housing for families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities

Boston – Voters approved taking part in the Community Preservation Act with 74% yes votes and agreeing to a 1% property tax surcharge to pay for affordable housing as well as parks and historic preservation.

Baltimore – An amendment to the city charter to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund was approved; it aims to help low and extremely low-income residents by providing more affordable rental housing.

Portland – With 61% in favor, voters in Oregon's largest city approved a property tax hike to generate $258 million to fund 1,300 units of affordable public housing.

Voters in Asheville, NC and Vancouver, WA were also among those saying yes to affordable housing.


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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