Commit to making housing affordable

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If you’re interested in affordable housing in Sonoma County, there’s one thing you can do right here and now to make a huge difference. And it won’t cost you a penny.

Raise your voice and share your perspective, values, concerns and needs to shape your city’s most important local housing policy – ​​the Housing Element, a document that California cities are required to update. day to meet the needs of all members of their community.

Our housing issues affect homelessness rates, loved ones displaced by high housing costs, residents stuck in overcrowded homes, and those of us with unaffordable homes that cost a third or more of our paychecks. pay.

But desperation is not a solution. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and come together to make a housing plan that will accommodate everyone, whether it’s young workers, seniors, families, your hairdresser, your nurse, your children’s teachers. . Everyone needs a home, and participating in updates to housing elements is a hands-on way to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our community. The plan will include the number of homes your town will need based on population projections, the types of homes and income levels the homes could accommodate, and where those homes would be built, zoning changes, and strategies and policies for support housing goals.

There isn’t much time left. The housing component, which is part of a city’s overall plan, is updated every eight years, and it only takes about a month before members of the city council and planning commissioners decide on proposed housing policies. By mid-summer, city officials will coordinate with consultants to finalize draft housing elements for public review.

Contact your town hall, ask about opportunities for community engagement, and come forward to give your opinion on your housing needs. You can also sign up for updates from the local housing element and stay informed about generationhousing.org/housing-element-tracker.

Drafts will be available for review for 30 days, then sent to the state by the end of the year for compliance review before finally being adopted in January. Community input is required by the state in the housing component process. In other words, your voice matters. Your voice must be heard. It’s up to all of us, high or low income, young or old, owners or tenants. We have the power to provide equitable and abundant housing that is affordable for all of our friends, families and neighbors, present and future.

We know that housing policy has long-term effects. Past policies steeped in structural racism, such as redlining that began in the 1930s, segregated black Americans into neighborhoods of inferior health and educational outcomes that endure to this day.

A good housing policy can have the opposite results. It can make significant progress towards a healthier, fairer and more prosperous future. Affordable housing fuels our local economy, protects our local landscapes, and moves closer to a sustainable low-carbon future.

It’s a common conversation in our region — housing costs and how it affects people, their finances, their mental and physical health, their businesses unable to employ workers. Let’s move these conversations into the public sphere, where we can collectively impact policy and create a better future for all of us.

As we seriously confront our regional and national housing melting pot, there are reasons for hope. We have a unique culture in Sonoma County, one of innovation and resilience. As a community, we have endured a series of relentless disasters over the past few years, but we continue to call it home. Together we can build an inclusive housing plan that leaves no one behind. It depends on us.

Jen Klose is Executive Director and Calum Weeks is Policy Director for Generation Housing.

You can send letters to the editor to [email protected]

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