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Poppa asked:

A different kind of affordable housing: Remember the Officer/Teacher Next Door Program? It could have turned around certain neighborhoods, but it was abused illegally. Could we bring it back with more restrictions? An example might be to repossess the property of anyone who buys a home under false pretenses and turns it into a rental or investment property.

I am not sure if the police officer housing program you refer to was assisted with housing funds from a redevelopment agency. From 1998 to 2002, state law encouraged homes in high crime project areas to be sold to police officers by removing the deed restrictions.  Officer could be given 20 percent down payment assistance from the housing fund and were required to live in the unit for 10 years, but did not have to sell to a low or moderate income family at an affordable price. Health and Safety Code Sec 33334.21. The pilot program was repealed in 2003. I have asked State HCD for any information on units assisted under it and will pass it on if I hear before day’s end.

The issues raised are important though: How are scarce public dollars for affordable housing best directed, to ownership or rental units, to those most or least in need? 

How can we ensure that affordable units, once developed, remain affordable to the people and families they were intended to serve?

On another note: The link between housing and public transit is so important. City planners state that a critical mass of housing is needed to support mass transit, and so this means higher density. Higher density housing is generally more expensive to build. And those with more money have more cars.

Should high density housing, particularly along transit corridors, be mixed-income to ensure the riders that mass transit needs to succeed? 

Should we reduce rather than increase parking to force people out of their cars and into mass transit? 

Note — the city of San Diego has increased parking requirements, in part by reducing opportunities for tandem parking. Greater parking requirements increase the costs of developing housing. In the case of SROs (Single Room Occupancy Hotels), the parking space has to be bigger than the living space. It’s a crazy world.  See here for more about SROs.

CATHERINE RODMAN

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