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Home for All

Staff Perspective Maeve Johnston

We know that housing and health have a strong connection. When people have access to safe, affordable homes, they experience better health. That’s why we’re excited to be part of San Mateo County’s Home for All initiative. Home for All is a Countywide effort to build more homes in the county to meet the needs of residents and the demands of a growing workforce. Following a year of input and planning with a diverse group of stakeholders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Home for All is launching deeper work on outreach, funding, policy, and mobility.

Where there’s a Will

In November, San Mateo County voters passed Measure K, demonstrating that housing production is an important priority in San Mateo County. The San Mateo County Manager has recommended allocation of $30 million of Measure K funds over two years – fiscal years 2017-19, which the Board of Supervisors will consider as they review the budget.  

Locally, City governments are taking up these efforts as well. Many cities in San Mateo County have passed resolutions supporting Home for All and agreeing to do their part in helping to solve the regional housing crisis. More and more cities are signing on every day. The momentum to create more homes to meet the needs of the county is getting stronger and stronger.

Illuminating the Problem

The initiative is clear about the housing challenges facing the county. First, new homes have not kept pace with new jobs in the county. Between 2010 and 2014, 54,600 new jobs were created in the county while only 2,100 new housing units were built. Because of the lack of homes, rent and home prices have grown dramatically over the last 15 years. This means 63% of SMC workers commute from outside the county, adding more cars to the road, congestion, air pollution, and health problems for everyone.

Seeking Solutions

Solutions to our housing problems involve us all. Employers, local governments, advocates, transit agencies and residents all have a part to play in helping bring more homes to San Mateo County. Home for All created a Toolkit to showcase a variety of ways we can move the needle on housing solutions. Solutions range from tools to help create an environment that supports housing, to generating more funds for affordable housing, to incentives to develop more housing or more deeply affordable housing.

There are other ongoing efforts in the County to support housing as well. The Grand Boulevard Initiative focuses on the area around El Camino Real in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties and recently developed a toolkit to look at housing conditions on the corridor, programs, and policies to help cities adopt the housing tools they need, and options for engaging community in building homes on El Camino Real. 21 Elements is another information source and a longstanding convener of local governments on the important issue of housing. 21 Elements provides research and shares resources on pertinent issues facing cities, such as impact fees, second units, short-term vacation rentals, and displacement.

The lack of housing options in the county poses major concerns for the long-term health of everyone in the county, and particularly for our most vulnerable clients and residents. The County’s Home for All initiative is an important step in working across stakeholders to advance housing options. This momentum helps move us toward a community where all residents have stable housing and can benefit from the opportunity and high-quality of life in San Mateo County.

To get involved or learn more, visit the Home for All website: http://homeforallsmc.org/get-involved.

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