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Editorial: San Rafael’s prompt commitment of affordable housing is right on track

April 3, 2022

Canal Alliance Office

by Marin IJ Editorial Board

San Rafael’s investment of $2.6 million toward the construction of local affordable housing is a significant step toward recognizing this pressing community need.

The four projects range from increasing emergency housing for the homeless, but also affordable housing for seniors and our local workforce.

The money earmarked for these projects comes from the city’s housing trust fund. It includes cash the city has collected from developers of market-rate housing as part of their fulfillment of the city’s requirement that they include affordable housing in their developments.

Promptly making use of this money to advance local affordable housing projects makes sense, not only putting it to use before rising construction costs erode its effectiveness, but also helping nonprofit builders show significant support for their projects as they vie for other grants.

In this case, projects such as the expansion of Homeward Bound’s Mill Street homeless shelter and Vivalon and Eden Housing’s affordable senior apartments on Third Street are getting significant boosts.

In addition, the city approved funding for the conversion of a Kerner Boulevard office building into 40 residences for homeless people and supportive services.

The City Council also earmarked money for the Canal Alliance, in its efforts to buy a local apartment complex and turn it into affordable housing.

If successful, the housing could help address overcrowding that has long been a problem in the Canal neighborhood.

Typically, it takes a combination of grants, government and nonprofits, to get affordable housing built.

San Rafael City Hall’s support for the Canal Alliance’s affordable housing initiative indicates both strong local political support, but also a recognition of the pressing need.

For the Canal Alliance, the city’s promise is key to it purchasing a property and being in line for funding from other sources, such as the state and the county.

The Alliance hopes to be in line for a county grant next year.

The city is putting this money to good use.

In some cases, cities have collected fees and have built significant funds, but holding onto the cash has allowed rising real estate and construction costs to eat away at its potential in terms of the number of housing units it can generate.

In San Rafael, City Hall is not waiting around. It is putting the money to work, to meet local needs – affordable workforce and senior housing and safe and secure housing for the homeless.

Instead of just talking about the need, the city is helping get solutions built.

Read the story here on the MarinIJ

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