San Mateo County

San Mateo County Budgets $44 Million to Sustain Affordable Housing Projects

The Measure A sales tax, extended for two additional decades under Measure K, is expected to generate $160 million in revenue for San Mateo County over the next two years. Roughly $44 million of those funds were approved Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for affordable housing projects.

Here is how the budget breaks down:

  • $35.75 million is budgeted to more than double previously allocated funds to the Affordable Development and Preservation Fund
  • $5 million is budgeted for the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust
  • $1.6 million is budgeted for ongoing programming and staffing
  • $1.4 million is budgeted for tenant assistance programs

"Many of the people in the county were asking (San Mateo County) to do more," Kenneth Cole, the director of San Mateo County's Department of Housing, said in response to the budget approval.

Following a decrease in revenue for redevelopment initiatives at the state level, the county asked voters to extend the sales tax with promises to soften the budget shortfall on projects such as affordable housing.

"This county has stepped up to replace (the missing funds)," Cole said.

He expects the new allocations to sustain efforts at the same level as they have in previous years.

However, the pipeline of moving public funds into housing projects is slow moving because of pending land sales and fluctuating markets, according to Cole. As a result, the $43.5 million approved for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 will not likely be spent immediately.

So far, roughly one quarter of the $20 million working budget for 2015-2016 has been expended on housing projects. Almost $3.8 million was spent in the prior two fiscal years combined. 

While affordable housing projects remain tied up in a slow-moving process, a recent survey found low-income residents shouldering hefty rent increases and a spike in evictions locally.

According to a recent survey, there was a 59 percent increase in renters evicted after failing to pay their monthly rent and three times more no-cause evictions reported. The practice of no-cause evictions refers to when landlords give no reason for a tenant's eviction.

The survey also estimated that about 44 percent of non-subsidized affordable housing dissolved from the market since 2012. The housing department is studying that finding.

The county said Tuesday it has created 268 finished affordable housing units in the last few years with hundreds more in pre-construction phases.

However, those efforts are dwarfed by an estimated shortage of about 25,882 affordable rental units, a rise of 14 percent from the previous year.

"We need a lot more (units), but at least we’re getting the pipeline flowing," Cole said. "We're all in this together."

“We need a lot more than that – but at least we’re getting the pipeline flowing.”
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