News

Affordable housing measure collecting local support

Palo Alto-based Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is biggest campaign donor to date

A statewide ballot measure to set up a $4 billion bond to support affordable housing for veterans and low-income residents appears, so far, to have only fans.

Supporters of Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act, had contributed a collective $2.1 million to the campaign by mid-month, while no opponent funding or committees had been identified as of July 16, according to the California Secretary of State website.

To date, the biggest donor to the campaign is the Palo Alto-based Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with a contribution of $250,000 to the fundraising committee Affordable Housing Now. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a limited liability corporation funded with the personal shares of Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his spouse, Dr. Priscilla Chan.

The proposition is also gathering support among area elected officials and organizations, and has been endorsed by Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine, Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, the town of Portola Valley and the cities of Redwood City, San Mateo and Mountain View.

Listed endorsers of the proposition also include a number of housing agencies that operate locally, such as Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, EAH Housing, and MidPen Housing Corporation, among many others.

Keith cited statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which show that there are around 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States – more than 11,000 of whom live in California. She noted that the state has seen a 17 percent rise in homeless veterans since 2016.

"All of our veterans should have a home," she said in a written statement. "It is the least that we may do for them. Please vote in favor of Prop 1 this November so that we may build more housing in Menlo Park, and across the State, for our beloved veterans."

Pine shared similar sentiments in an interview. "More state and federal funds are required to leverage the investments in affordable housing that we are making at the local level," he said.

Jan Lindenthal, chief real estate development officer at MidPen Housing, a nonprofit housing developer, said that her organization recently completed 66 new affordable housing units in Sunnyvale and now must hold a crushing lottery to decide who will live there. MidPen received over 3,500 applications in two weeks.

"We're endorsing Proposition 1 because the only way we are really going to move the needle on this housing crisis is if every sector of government from the federal, local and and state level is prioritizing investment in affordable housing," she said in a written statement. "This public investment is critical for us to leverage private capital. The last time a state affordable housing bond came before the voters was in 2006. Prop. 1 is long overdue."

The details

The measure, called the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, would create a $4 billion general obligation bond to fund affordable housing and promote veteran homeownership.

According to a report by the League of California Cities, the measure would provide:

● $1.5 billion to a multifamily housing program to build, rehabilitate and preserve permanent and transitional rental homes for lower-income households.

● $1 billion to the CalVet Home Loan program, which helps eligible veterans get home loans with below-market interest rates and few or no down payment requirements.

● $300 million to a farmworker housing grant fund to build, rehabilitate and acquire housing for agriculture workers.

● $300 million to an infill incentive grant program to promote infill developments (projects in areas considered already "built out") by helping to fund infrastructure rehabilitation and improvement to enable more housing density.

● $300 million to a local housing trust fund matching grant program, to finance affordable housing with matching grants, dollar-for-dollar, for local housing trusts.

● $300 million to the CalHome Program to provide grants to public agencies and nonprofit developers that help low- and very low-income households buy or keep their homes; to provide loans for people in co-ops and other mutual housing situations to acquire property; and to offer direct loan forgiveness for projects with multiple ownership units.

● $150 million to a transit-oriented development program to give low-interest loans to develop housing and provide mortgage help to buy homes at higher-density developments near transit stations that have affordable units. Cities, counties and transit agencies would be eligible for grants for needed infrastructure improvements to allow such developments.

● $150 million to a "self-help housing fund" to help low- and moderate-income families get grants to build their own homes.

The programs would be administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development with the exception of the CalVet Home Loan Program, which would be administered by the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Supporters say the measure is expected to create 137,000 jobs and pump $23.4 billion into California's economy.

Other contributions

According to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, its donation of $250,000 is just the latest in a series of contributions toward affordable housing on a local, state and national level.

It also isn't the first ballot measure the organization has thrown its weight behind: In 2016, it supported local sales tax extension measures in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties that dedicated further funding toward affordable housing.

Locally, it has provided funding to nonprofits that help people with housing such as Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto and Project WeHope and through its community fund program, giving grants to the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, Habitat for Humanity-Greater San Francisco, Rebuilding Together Peninsula and New Creation Home Ministries.

It also donated $5 million to Landed to create a down payment fund to help teachers in the Ravenswood City, Redwood City and Sequoia Union High School districts buy homes. In addition, according to the organization, it contributed funds to help the city of East Palo Alto secure new water allocations to enable affordable housing construction.

The Facebook question

There's a complex irony at play, because while the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a separate entity from Facebook, the Initiative is funded with the Chan-Zuckerberg family's Facebook shares – and Facebook's rapid expansion in Menlo Park has been a major, albeit by no means exclusive, culprit in drawing far more workers to the area than can live nearby, given the existing housing supply.

The company reported it had a total of 27,742 employees at the end of the first quarter this year, up 48 percent year-over-year. Roughly 60 percent of those employees work out of Facebook's headquarter offices in Menlo Park, vice president of global facilities and real estate John Tenanes recently told the Menlo Park Planning Commission.

And the company shows no signs of slowing its employee growth. It continues to expand its office space square footage, most recently by securing office space in Fremont from Perry Arrillaga, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed with The Almanac. Tenanes told the Planning Commission in February that the company plans to have 35,000 employees in the area within 10 years.

And Facebook employees tend to be very well-paid – employees' median salary in 2017 was $240,430, according to a company statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April – meaning they can better afford to pay a premium to live close by than many other local workers, should they choose.

Facebook, the company – separate from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – has made its own contributions to local housing: Spurred by advocacy from nonprofits in East Palo Alto, it created and contributed $18.5 million toward a housing fund with the city of East Palo Alto. The company also plans to build 1,500 housing units – 225 of which are proposed to be for rent at below market rate – as part of its proposed 60-acre "Willow Village" redevelopment project currently under review by the city of Menlo Park.

But that hasn't kept local renters, especially in eastern Menlo Park, from drawing connections between the company's growth in town and escalating rent costs. Sometimes, those connections are more explicit than others. Menlo Gate LLC, which recently purchased some apartments in Belle Haven, referred to Facebook 15 times in its online materials meant to attract investors.

According to a public Facebook post by Sandra Zamora, a member of the Redwood Landing Tenant Union and a resident of an apartment recently purchased by the group, she and her neighbors are facing rent increases and are at risk of losing their homes.

As originally reported in The Guardian, she recently wrote on Facebook in a message to Mark Zuckerberg that she and other residents in eastern Menlo Park "have been extremely affected by the expansion of Facebook in the area."

She claimed that many families in eastern Menlo Park work two or three jobs to keep up with basic needs, and that under new ownership at her apartment building, many other families have already been displaced.

Neither Zamora nor Menlo Gate LLC responded to requests for comment.

Kate Bradshaw writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of the Mountain View Voice.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

115 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Check out that median FB salary to help figure out why housing ownership is beyond reach for so many.


14 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 1, 2018 at 9:27 pm

That $240K median salary at Facebook doesn't even tell the whole story. Bonuses, RSUs, and other incentives bump the median compensation up over $300K. A single-income household is possible if you are a techie at Facebook.

My main concern over this housing measure is: What KIND of housing? More rental units that benefit a handful of landlords, or housing that residents can actually OWN?


23 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:48 am

I read on MSN today that three of the top 20 food stamps cities in the country are located in the Central Valley. Their suffering could be alleviated by moving some tech jobs there where land is cheaper and labor is abundant.
Train people and put them to work.
Do not expect Mr Zuckerburg to relate to the plight of the less successful. He bought the houses surrounding his house so he could have privacy.


10 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

Lead the way, Robyn. Or is that just advice for others and not something you are willing to do yourself?


25 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

I can easily afford to live here. But many cannot. It was merely a suggestion that would alleviate the pain being suffered by those who cannot afford to live here.
Even Tesla opened their gigafactory in Nevada where the land is cheap and labor abundant. They are hiring now. Amazon also has seasonal jobs in Nevada.
For those desiring to stay in California, the Central Valley is perhaps a viable alternative.


8 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:12 am

I'm glad you're clear about the fact that your advice is only for the poor people, and they should get out so rich folks like you won't be inconvenienced. It was cute when you started by pretending you cared about "the plight of the less successful."


26 people like this
Posted by mike rose
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

mike rose is a registered user.

LOL,
Why are you such a bullying ideologist?
If you could just read clearly through your anger you'd realize that Robyn was talking about idea of moving JOBS not people, to places where housing is cheaper than bay area.
The poor people, whom you care so much about can stay here. After all their living cost is forcibly subsidized by private property owners.
At the moment there is excess of jobs here vs housing.


10 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:36 am

Hahaha, mike, I triggered you so much you're following me around different articles now. Sad!


20 people like this
Posted by mike rose
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:41 am

LOL,
Do you think people opposing your views of forced social justice and wealth redistribution should be confined to reading just one article?


8 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 11:53 am

Hahaha, no, go ahead, keep posting. You'll prove to everyone how not triggered you are. You're single handedly solving the affordable housing crisis because I'm living rent-free in your head.


19 people like this
Posted by mike rose
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm

mike rose is a registered user.

LOL,
Is your purpose on these forums to "trigger" people? Does it give you cheap "high"?


10 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Hahaha, mostly to mock barely literate out-of-town shut-ins who spend their brief existence posting here. That it's so easy to trigger you is just a nice added benefit. Keep posting through it, you'll prove everyone wrong by just posting more.


5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to mike rose you said:

“Why are you such a bullying ideologist?”

Please demonstrate how LOL is acting like a “bully”? You said:

“If you could just read clearly through your anger you'd realize that Robyn was talking about idea of moving JOBS not people, to places where housing is cheaper than bay area.”

Yes, there is a strong force to have the “lucrative” jobs move away. Wouldn’t that cause a significant loss of property value? Just asking. You said:

“The poor people, whom you care so much about can stay here. After all their living cost is forcibly subsidized by private property owners.”

There we go again with that old tune. “Rent Control” or “Affordable Housing” is not a subsidy paid by the private property owners. The Affordable Bond IS a subsidy. However it is chosen by the electorate in the initiative. The political system is fair, you have the resources to convince the public to reject it. Thus you are not “forced” if you have an equal opportunity to convince the electorate to reject it. You said:

“At the moment there is excess of jobs here vs housing.”

No argument there, but smiths invisible hand is proving to not work. The jobs simply are not providing earnings necessary to “Sustain” the market prices. The industry has not built enough housing. Thus the political process which is eaqual to collective bargaining is producing new market reforms. That’s all. You said:

“Do you think people opposing your views of forced social justice and wealth redistribution should be confined to reading just one article?”

Where the electorate makes the decision, it is not “forced” social justice. The foundation of the Republic allows for this kind of action. You forget your High School Civics class. The country is funded by “wealth redistribution”, it is called taxation. But that is also determined by the political process that the nation and the state are designed under our constitutions. Why write ideas that can be questioned? As far as the public knows with the pattern of posts you write, you proclaim you are being bullied. But who is the bullied and who is the bully? One can cut and paste your attempts to publicly ridicule and personal attacks. They are so long, you would proclaim I am trying to “Monopolize” the conversation. But it would be your words.


20 people like this
Posted by @LOL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

LOL, I believe you must also post under YIMBY? You (or both of you) never give a rational, positive or workable suggestion or plan. You just whine that you don't have enough money to buy in this area and WHY isn't Mountain View overbuilding until you can afford what YOU want? Your "whining troll" act is counter-productive and tedious.


2 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Nope, just post as this name. Nice positive solution you're proposing of "get out, poor people." Seems like the whiners are the rich folks who complain about having to see poor people around and would rather they move out to the Central Valley. How dare the proles demand a place to live!


20 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Given the FB median salary, $60K per year in housing costs is in line with what lenders expect; 25% of income is reasonable for housing. It works out to $5K per month. I expect that Apple, Google, Nokia, Broadcom, Yahoo, etc. have similar pay structures to FB. Do you want wage defaltion?
OLO, your posts are becoming more of a name-calling invitation than a discussion. You statements do not further debate. Does it not make sense to you for people in Manteca or Fresno, for instance (hardly poor), who commute daily to the Bay Area, to have jobs closer to their homes? It is a vast valley.
And the local economies would benefit from the current service workers who are not directly employed by the big companies. This could reduce the use of food stamps and provide a path to home ownership (and wealth) instead of paying rent every month.
Thank you for the words of support mike rose.


8 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Yeah, workers from Manteca and Fresno should be able to live in Mountain View if they want. Why don't you want these people living among you? Just because they don't have as much money as you doesn't make them worse than you.


19 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm

LOL,
I never said I did not want anyone living among us. (Although, I would like to avoid active criminals.) It was simply a logistically sound suggestion with which you disagree. And you are drawing unsupported conclusions.

You may recall that many of the people you distain - homeowners- are workers, too. They earned and are earning the money to pay their mortgages. They made lives for themselves. Some just happened to get here before you did and invested in homeownership.
So, you are now projecting you own feelings.


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Robyn you said:

“Given the FB median salary, $60K per year in housing costs is in line with what lenders expect; 25% of income is reasonable for housing. It works out to $5K per month. I expect that Apple, Google, Nokia, Broadcom, Yahoo, etc. have similar pay structures to FB. Do you want wage defaltion?”

Robyn, you speak as though the only customers that housing should be provided for is for those people. In effect only building for one customer is like trying to have only a hammer in the toolbox. That is your choice, but you simply cannot expect realistically that if you and your peers do not provide more, the pubic will be able to take any political actions to engage legitimate “market reform”. You said:

“OLO, your posts are becoming more of a name-calling invitation than a discussion. You statements do not further debate. Does it not make sense to you for people in Manteca or Fresno, for instance (hardly poor), who commute daily to the Bay Area, to have jobs closer to their homes? It is a vast valley.”

But at the same time you ignore any real debate. You tend to ignore any observations that indicate that your approach you advocate will eventually cause a significant public policy impact. You said:

“And the local economies would benefit from the current service workers who are not directly employed by the big companies. This could reduce the use of food stamps and provide a path to home ownership (and wealth) instead of paying rent every month.”

That is if earnings are in pace with the proportion of the rent increases. Thus if a “service” worker gets a 5% income raise in a year, you would be entitled to a 5% increase in that housing markets rent. But you know that that has not occurred. And your peers want to enforce rent increases on everyone. You’re making a proposition that you have no proof has in fact happened.


20 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 1:47 pm

I invite public policy debate. This was a suggested starting point not a fait accompli.
Clearly, there are too many people in too little space. Some want to build up, up, up: others do not.
All around the Valley one can see residential building growth. Who will be able to afford to live in these new tenements, I do not know.
It is less expensive to live elsewhere. I just suggested the Central Valley because three top food stamp eligible cities are there and they are relatively close, according to the article. There are also many other states that could use an economic boost.


8 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 2:58 pm

And that's precisely the hypocrisy: you want others to move so that you can ensure only the wealthy here get to stay. This is why I asked you to go first, to demonstrate your deep concern for others through your actions rather than just your words. Talk is cheap.


21 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm

There you go making insulting comments again. Read your own words.
I am not asking anyone to move. I merely request that they know what they are in for once they arrive, ie., congestion, crowding, the cost of living, etc.
You are demanding that people already here move to make space for the masses you would like to see here.
So we will disagree.


14 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 3:30 pm

This isn't a country club you get to keep for yourself. You don't have to go anywhere, but you don't get to stop more people from coming.


21 people like this
Posted by MVWoman
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 4, 2018 at 3:38 pm

To LOL: where are your constructive ideas? You just seem to want everyone to do whatever necessary so YOU can live here on YOUR terms. You sound very similar to YIMBY who posts the same philosophy.
Making rude comments to other posters seems to be your tactic, but how far has that gotten you? Maybe you could think of a more rational and possible way to buy into real estate in the area, or perhaps moving where you can afford? Nobody can have whatever they want, just because they want it. Robyn and Mike Rose give reasonable, honest and constructive suggestions, but perhaps working for something isn't what you want to do?


6 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm

It's quite telling that all of you can only conceive of doing things that directly benefit you ("buy into real estate in the area"). Your lack of imagination that anyone cares about things beyond their own benefit should be surprising, but honestly isn't. Let's be honest, you don't actually care what my own situation is, you just want to use it as a rhetorical cudgel. Your assumptions are the most revealing, however.


14 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 4, 2018 at 8:53 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

It's not that no one cares about what your situation is LOL.....some of us just don't think we need to subsidize your desires. Rhetoric cudgel....nice rhetoric, sounds lovely but what does that actually mean?


6 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

I've never asked anyone to subsidize my desires. As I said above, the assumptions you make about my situation speak volumes about your own views. I could be a landlord, fully housed, living in an RV, or a tenant. It doesn't change the content of my views, but you need to make assumptions because you can't fathom anything except looking out for yourself.

Those who prefer to keep Mountain View as a private country club are looking to have their lifestyle subsidized, when you deny people the ability to build enough housing and are perfectly happy with rising home prices.


12 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 4, 2018 at 9:51 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

Oh wow, MV has a private country club? Where, I didn't know MV had one! I know Los Altos has one, where's Mountain View's?


6 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 4, 2018 at 9:56 pm

When you want to make Mountain View a place where only the wealthy can live, that's what you're doing. Best to confront that now rather than play coy.


11 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of The Crossings
on Aug 5, 2018 at 1:57 pm

I agree with MVwoman, offer something constructive. Closing down discussions with unwarranted slurs discourages others from participating with their own comments and observations.
I came here to see what our neighbors are discussing on the issues.
Perhaps LOL is an acronym for loser of losers. You have lost me.


4 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 5, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Sick burn, bruh. I don't see how "get out, poors" is constructive. If Robyn were doing more than concern trolling, they'd take action (i.e. move to the place they suggest everyone else move to). Instead, they're perfectly happy Building The Wall here through inaffordable housing. The nice liberals in Mountain View have a lot more in common with Trump than they want to admit. Here's something constructive: build enough houses for everyone and don't prevent new housing from being built. That way you'll directly help the people you profess to be so worried about.


9 people like this
Posted by Affordable Housing
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 7, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Affordable housing is just a euphemism for highly subsidized housing for those that win the lottery of being selected. These lucky winners get the right to rent or buy million dollar plus units for about 350k. Talk about huge huge subsidies. There will never be enough subsidized housIng for everyone who thinks they deserve the right to live in Mtn View. Of course politicians will promise you they can solve this problem. Such nonsense.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

What Would it Take to Get Tech Companies to Move Jobs Out of the Region and Is This a Good Idea?
By Steve Levy | 21 comments | 1,454 views

A Power Play
By Sherry Listgarten | 10 comments | 1,286 views

Palo Alto's Taverna to expand next door
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 1,226 views

College Match
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 941 views

Premarital and Couples: Valentine's Day: Annually or Daily?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 835 views

 

Best of Mountain View ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Mountain View" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of the Mountain View Voice.

VOTE HERE