Tackling Berkeley’s Shortage of Affordable Homes

As I’ve knocked on doors across District 1, I’ve heard from young people, teachers, and seniors who are struggling with the cost of housing. This is a regional problem, and Berkeley needs to be part of the solution.

Our community’s shortage of affordable homes harms all of us: it worsens homelessness, contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions from workers forced into long car commutes, and increases income inequality by shutting out low-income families and hardworking young people from being able to access the world-class educational and professional opportunities of the Bay Area.

 

We must fight for equity, inclusion, and social justice in our housing policies.

 

As your Councilmember, I will champion the creation of homes that are affordable for working people, families, and seniors while protecting existing residents from displacement.  

Protect Existing Residents from Displacement

I will advocate for a city budget that increases funding for legal assistance in order to protect long-time tenants and homeowners who are vulnerable to displacement because of their source of income, disability, or age.

I also support changes to state rent control rules so that newer buildings can eventually be subject to rent control.   

Support Affordable Housing for People with Low or Moderate Incomes

I strongly support the efforts of the Berkeley Unified School District to create homes that are affordable for new teachers. If elected to City Council, I will work tirelessly with my colleagues on the school board to see this housing get built as quickly as possible.

I will also work to ensure that Berkeley receives its fair share of resources from the $4 billion statewide affordable housing bond measure, should it pass in November. We should also use existing resources, such as the Berkeley Business License Tax Increase (Measure U1), to create affordable homes and to buy homes that can be used as permanently affordable housing.

The city should also move forward in piloting a homesharing program so that an aging homeowner with spare bedrooms can be connected to potential housemates, creating a win-win of helping the homeowner to age in place while providing an affordable living arrangement for the housemates.

Create More Homes with Community Input

Ultimately, if we don’t create more homes that are designed to be affordable, we risk losing the diversity and multiculturalism that make Berkeley special. Our African American population has already fallen from 24% in 1970 to just 10% in 2010.

In our single-family home neighborhoods, I am committed to making it easier for homeowners to create backyard cottages (also known as Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs). I will work with the city’s Planning Department so that permits to build ADUs are processed and awarded faster.

I will also champion the creation of a low-interest loan program so that low- and moderate-income homeowners can have access to the $150,000 to $250,000 needed to build an ADU. Estimates suggest that 30 percent of Berkeley’s 16,000 homeowners are interested in creating an ADU, so these efforts could lead to the creation of as many as 5,000 new homes suitable for young people, couples, or seniors.

Plan for North Berkeley BART

At the North Berkeley BART station, I’m committed to a community driven process to determine what happens at the site. We need to create as many affordable homes as we can while still remaining true to the character of the neighborhood.

As someone who lives within a 10-minute walk of the station, I will make sure that any changes take into account parking needs for the BART station, mitigate traffic impacts around the station, and promote the use of public transportation, biking, and walking.

I invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns by e-mailing me at rashiforcouncil@gmail.com or calling me at 510-982-6128.