Many of us here in Marin feel a responsibility for reducing environmental impacts from climate change and pollution. Installing solar panels, purchasing a Prius, and religiously recycling have become common practices, along with a passionate desire to protect open space.
All of these actions are good, but are they sufficient?
Our love affair with single-family homes and our cars contributes to sprawling development patterns, rising rents and home prices, heavy car use, increasingly wider highways and a growing divide in social and racial equity.
People in the lowest economic sectors of Marin are being squeezed out. Many who work here — including teachers, firefighters and police officers — can’t afford to live here.
I keep hearing people say "We don't have any real definition of affordable housing." Yes we do. It's been in place for some decades now. Your housing is not affordable if you have to pay more than 30% of your income to cover the costs of your housing. Your housing is affordable if you are paying 30% or less of your income towards your housing costs. (See documents referenced below.) (1, 2)
Example: you are a single mom who works as a medical assistant. Your salary is $36,000. To be affordable, your rent should be $900 a month or less. Good luck because in Marin, the average one bedroom apartment is $2,297.(3)
Armed with a better understanding of not only which neighborhoods are struggling, but why they are struggling, local officials can develop solutions for the unique problems in their areas.
Last Wednesday, the Obama administration released new housing rules that will dramatically strengthen the way our nation addresses segregation—a move that has been met with staunch blowback from the right. The disconnect between their criticism and the support the rule has received from housing experts, progressives, and countless local government underscores this reality: a country that condemns segregation as a malady of its past must own up to the legacy of exclusion, disinvestment, and disadvantage this practice has left in its wake—and do something to change it.