Oakland Misses Affordable Housing Opportunity

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Oakland Affordable Housing Design (Rendering via e.12th Street People's Proposal)

Oakland Affordable Housing Design (Rendering via e.12th Street People’s Proposal)

More people are living in urban areas. We all know younger millennials are choosing more urban lifestyles and rents are rising. Much has been written about micro-housing, from Seattle to New York’s Carmel Place by nArchitects. Will these types of units help make housing more affordable?

The issue of housing in urban centers—especially affordable housing—is a great and complex issue. On the west coast, cities like L.A. and San Francisco have a notorious shortage. Seattle, dealing with rapid growth, is trying to do things a little differently. Mayor Murray has launched the Housing and Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), with an action plan that proposes rethinking density upzoning by 16 percent of Seattle and building 20,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years through public and private funding.

Sometimes, though, it seems two steps forward means one step back. In California this Tuesday, Oakland’s City Council approved market-rate housing on a parcel of publicly owned land near Lake Merritt in a 6-1 vote. This could allow a developer to build a luxury condo on the site. The vote shot down an alternative, the E. 12th Street People’s Proposal, which called for a different use for the land—affordable and mixed housing. The E. 12th Street proposal called for 133 units, housing just over 700 people. The proposal put the cost of development at a little over $46,000,000, with funding that could have come from a mix of sources including state and federal grants.

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