Last week's Post editorial finally asked the question that many of us have been asking. When is there enough affordable housing in the community? It seems every new condo project must make 20 percent of its units affordable. Even the mayor agreed that Milpitas is getting an "overabundance" of below-market affordable units.
There are two problems associated with affordable housing. The first is that they are a draw for low-income families. That's OK as long as they aren't a drain on city help services. In other words the city has the funds to accommodate them. Get too many coming into the city and the scale starts tilting the wrong way. The second is property tax revenue. The affordable units are cheaper and the computed property tax is lower. That doesn't help the city maintain funding for its efforts to service the community.
There are other financial problems associated with affordable housing. In many cases they are granted loans by a host of state and local funds, which are to be returned in time. There is then an exposure for the funding agencies if the loans are not paid back in a timely fashion. This was brought out in the editorial as a staff comment in their denial of a recommendation for the $4.4 million the city made available to the Apton Plaza Apartments.
The question to be asked is when are there too many affordable housing units in a city? The city of Framingham, Mass. did a study, which looked at the housing distribution in
As a result they have a blueprint to help plan the community housing needs.
My point here is that I think a similar study needs to be done in Milpitas to see what the proper housing mix needs to be to bring the income/housing needs of the community into balance. There may have been such a study done but from my observations I don't think so because two recent studies done by the Economic Development Commission indicated that there is a shortfall of luxury housing and the mayor agrees there is an "overabundance" of affordable housing. If there is an income/housing plan in place it is not working.
With regard to the Economic Development Commission studies, the first, their Strategic Plan, was approved in 2005 and as yet there has been no action by the Economic Development Commission or the city council to direct attention to solving that luxury-housing shortfall. The council can rezone land to make it easier for developers to build the product.
-Richard Ruth, Milpitas