Not enough affordable housing in Berkeley

I am always surprised (although I know I shouldn’t be) when I learn that so-called progressive cities like Berkeley do not meet their affordable housing needs. With so many students, educated, liberal people housing should be a de facto part of city planning, it should be a matter of course. But shoulds are not realities and so Berkeley, like most of America, cannot keep its housing prices at affordable rates.

Part of the problem, as indicated in the article, is the lack of affordable, on-campus housing for university students. When young people (who may or may not be paying their own rest and who usually live with multiple roommates to keep costs down) move into the general housing market, they increase demand and drive prices up, leaving the rest of the population to scramble to afford even basic units. This phenomenon, combined with the lack of adequate housing designated as affordable, means Berkeley is falling seriously behind. Low-income workers  cannot afford to live neat their jobs, resulting in either increased transportation time (for those who choose to live in cheaper housing outside the city) or severely cost-burdened people. Neither scenario is optimal.

One suggested solution is an increased in-lieu fee for developers who do not want to include onsite affordable housing. The fee is currently $28,000 but advocates want it increased to $34,000 per rental unit. I support these sort of linkage fees, but I also think that without a minimum on-site requirement, affordable housing will continue its pattern of isolation and the problem of housing on Berkeley will persist.

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