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    Safeguarding a Strategy to Fund More Affordable Housing in Oakland

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    Our region is facing a skyrocketing homelessness crisis, with rates rising over 40% in Alameda County over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, even as we work to strengthen shorter-term solutions, we know that we must dramatically expand our supply of permanently affordable housing.

    Several years ago, Oakland adopted a strategy to fund more affordable housing production by creating an “impact fee” charged on market rate housing, to create an additional funding mechanism that would be used to fund affordable housing development.

    Last spring, during Oakland’s budget process, I and others asked for information about the amount of money that has come in, and the amounts projected still to come in from those impact fees so that we can deploy them in a timely way to create more affordable housing. Unfortunately, at that time, the Oakland administration did not provide that information, and expressed that it was not their process to plan ahead and project upcoming impact fees. In addition, they did not have up to date information about funds received.

    We have continued to work on and research this issue, and are proposing changes to our impact fee laws in order to guarantee accurate tracking and regular reporting of the funds received, and timely deployment of the funds for affordable housing purposes.

    Now, these proposals and reports are scheduled to come forward on Tuesday, November 12, to the Community and Economic Development Committee of the Oakland City Council, which meets at 1:30 pm at Oakland City Hall.

    It is vital that we take steps to ensure that funds are accounted for properly, distributed timely, and used effectively by local nonprofits to develop the affordable housing that our community so desperately needs.

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( https://twitter.com/Kaplan4Oakland ) and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/Kaplan4Oakland/ ).