If You Want More Affordable Housing, Build More Market-Rate Housing
The following is a letter that I wrote and was published in the Orange County Register – At a recent Santa Ana Planning Commission hearing on a proposed revision to the city’s Housing Opportunity Ordinance, a resident told my Planning Commission colleagues and I that the need for affordable housing units outweighed the need for new market-rate housing units. What that resident may not be aware of is that it is new market-rate housing developments that are largely responsible for the construction of affordable housing units.
In adopting the Housing Opportunity Ordinance in 2011, the city required that housing units for very low-income and low-income households be included in new market-rate housing developments. The HOO also allows an in-lieu fee to be paid instead of actually providing affordable units. In 2015, my Planning Commission colleagues and I supported revisions to the HOO, which the City Council later adopted, limiting the ability of developers to pay the in-lieu fee instead of actually building affordable homes within market-rate residential developments.
These revisions will produce more new, and quality residential units that our very low-income and low-income households can afford, but that will not happen if more market-rate residential units are not built in our city.
As our city does more to encourage new and quality market-rate housing, our city will also be able to provide more affordable housing.