Fairfax housing project not necessarily for town residents

POSTED: 03/11/17, 2:17 PM PST

Author: Randy Warren

Publication: Marin Independent Journal: Marin Voice


Sometimes we buy a lottery ticket. We dream about winning but don’t rely on it. But is that a good approach to resolving housing issues in our community?

The powerful push to expand Marin’s population and housing density makes promises of great things.

First, and quite attractively, it will enable our children to be able to live in the community where they grew up. Teachers and police will live where they work. Seniors can remain in Marin as they age.

So many different groups are promised the same housing that it calls to mind Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” selling more shares than actually exist.

Take senior housing right now. Fairfax is considering 54 units of affordable senior housing. Unfortunately, nearly none of these 54 units are for Marin residents, much less Fairfax seniors.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development made that crystal clear last year in rejecting San Francisco’s neighborhood preference plan, which gave local residents a priority on affordable housing.

HUD’s rejection said that preferences for local residents could “limit equal access to housing and perpetuate segregation” in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The joke — and there always is one — is that San Francisco was actually trying to improve chances for African-American residents to remain in their own community.

Yes, that is right: HUD says that any effort to keep people living in their own community is impermissible segregation.

So Fairfax must use the affordable housing lottery, open to everyone in at least nine Bay Area counties. Among those 7 million people, Marin’s population of 260,000 makes up a mere 4 percent.

By those odds, only two Fairfax units will end up going to Marin residents while 52 units go to people who don’t live here.

This does almost nothing to provide housing for Marin seniors. Statistically there is a 95 percent probability — a near certainty — that Fairfax seniors will get shut out entirely. Not a single unit.

Why would Fairfax approve that?

Someone opined that seniors outside Marin would be unlikely to apply for affordable housing here. That view is naïve. Marin is highly desirable.

If they want to argue charity or diversity, then own it. But stop making false claims that this project is in any way going to be a solution for Fairfax’s senior housing needs, or even Marin’s.

Chances are slim-to-none that any affordable housing will go to someone you know or ever met. It is not going to your child, your neighbor or yourself.

With preferences banned, the lottery assigning 100 percent of all units leaves little chance for Miss Crabtree the teacher or Mike the cop.

The reality is that promises of providing housing to our community members is merely the Trojan Horse to get us to approve increased density. Afterwards, the crew inside this Trojan Horse opens the gate, expanding our population, with 96 percent of all affordable units going to people who do not live in Marin.

Yes, the devil is in the details, as San Rafael is now harshly learning from SMART. The philosophies and tricks used by unelected administrators run the same through all games. We only learn in hind sight, and then miraculously get amnesia when the next campaign is again trumpeted in public relations rather than sober disclosures.

Fairfax senior housing solves a problem for people from out of county. But it leaves Marin’s problems unsolved, and Fairfax seniors swindled.

The people of our communities would be better served if Fairfax denied this project until such time that it can be exempted from the lottery. Only then can it truly provide for local seniors in need.

Delaying that project for years is better than betraying local seniors forever.

*Randy Warren is a San Rafael lawyer. In 2013, he ran for San Rafael City Council.

To read original article posting, click here: http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20170311/marin-voice-fairfax-housing-project-not-necessarily-for-town-residents


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