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Housing Solutions Ad-Hoc Committee Needed



4/10/13

By Monica Tipton


 
 

Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council,

 

We are beginning to glimpse some success in Vallejo's future.  We are starting to see the various neighborhoods come together with shared concerns and shared victories as we regain control over our destiny.  We are educating ourselves, researching issues, asking questions, and offering solutions to benefit our beloved city and our beloved neighbors.


We have yet another critical issue that is giving us pause and potentially dividing us again.  That issue is providing affordable housing.  As a member of the Housing Commission, I have studied this topic diligently for the last several months.  I have listened to fellow citizens, both renters and owners alike, expressing their questions and deep concerns that the economic development of this city is being stymied not only by our failing schools but also by the low cost of living in our part of Solano County.  

 

The formula for determining the financial qualification for housing assistance is based on a percentage of the median income of the area.  Vallejo's median income is among the lowest in the Bay region.  This means that the qualifying income for very low and low income renters is among the lowest in the Bay Area.  We are doing our part to provide for the most needy of our fellows; yet, we are continually faced with Scylla and Charybdis, the deadly rocks and the inescapable whirlpool that kept the honorable Odysseus away from the promise of home, health, and happiness. 

 

Here is how it goes:  the lower the income, the less disposable income.  The less disposable income, the fewer the businesses that can survive in Vallejo.  The fewer businesses and potential employers that there are in Vallejo, the lower the median income, and consequently the lower the threshold for assistance.  And if we fail to provide the affordable housing that agencies outside of our city dictate, we face lawsuits which again lower our chances for economic revitalization.  


I am requesting that the City Council create an Ad Hoc Committee on Housing Solutions to work with the Housing Commission, the Vallejo Housing Authority, the Economic Vitality Commission, the Economic Development Department, and the City Attorney to explore solutions to this frustrating dilemma.  It will no doubt lead us to ABAG, to MTA, and eventually to the capitol, but ours is a situation that is unique in the nation.  Not only did we lose the century-old economic driver that was Vallejo's raison d'être, we went bankrupt during the Great Recession. Not even Detroit has had to declare bankruptcy, and we must avoid a small-city version of Detroit's despair.  


It is imperative that we care for our elders, for our veterans, for our disabled, and for our poor, but we must also care for the rest of our citizens.  Under the current conditions, no one is being well cared for, and it is only getting worse.  The city is becoming trapped in its own cycle of generational poverty.


Please consider establishing this committee and placing all such decisions on hold until the results of the committee's work are published.  I know that the Housing Plan is due soon, and its submittal should not be delayed, but such decisions as the one you are considering tonight can and must be tabled until we have answered all questions, explored all options, and developed new ways of coping with our challenges.  


Thank you.

 

Note: All opinions expressed in the "Primal Scream" column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin