As rents go sky high, experts from around the county are looking to strengthen the foundations of the local housing market and make living here more affordable.
The newly launched Affordable Housing Santa Cruz County (AFSCC) campaign announced yesterday that they will be exploring public opinion on a possible $250 million bond measure for the November ballot.
AFSCC will hold five public meetings, one in each Santa Cruz County supervisorial district, to get community feedback. The tax would show up on the bill of Santa Cruz County property owners, although organizers haven’t yet determined what the rate will be.
“We are here today, and we are going to continue our work in the months to come, because there is a housing crisis in Santa Cruz, and it’s time to make a big move and find real solutions,” former Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane told a crowd of more than two dozen gathered in front of the Santa Cruz Courthouse for the announcement.
Lane said that housing costs exceed 50 percent of household income for more than a fifth of county residents, acknowledging that rates are much higher in some neighborhoods. A report out last month from Apartment List found that the cost of housing has risen 4 percent in the last year, with the average two-bedroom apartment going for $2,420.
Lane says the new measure would fund housing, particularly for lower-income renters—service and farm workers, teachers, veterans, the homeless and those with disabilities. “Families are being forced to spend less on basic necessities like food and health care simply because they spend so much on housing,” he added.
Community Foundation Santa Cruz County CEO Susan True and Watsonville Councilmember Rebecca Garcia both presented and voiced their support for the potential measure.
If it passes, the measure will prioritize four major areas: affordable housing, first-time home buyers’ assistance, facilities to address homelessness and the preservation of existing affordable housing sites.
But before it can get on the ballot, the bond measure will appear before the Board of Supervisors in June, where it would need support from four out of five supervisors to pass. After that, it would need a two-thirds majority from county voters—hence the need for a broad base of support with the community.
“Most important, today we are proposing that people from Santa Cruz County participate with us in refining and changing the details of this proposal,” Lane says. “We want and need more community input and participation so that we get it just right.”
For more information, visit affordablehousingscc.org. The dates for the public meetings will be:
5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11. Twin Lakes Church, 2701 Cabrillo College Drive, Aptos.
7-8:30 p.m.Tuesday, April 17. Simpkins Family Swim Center, 979 17 Ave., Santa Cruz.
5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, April 19. Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room, 275 Main St., Fourth Floor, Watsonville.
5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Santa Cruz Police Community Room, 155 Center St., Santa Cruz.
5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2. Felton Community Hall. 6191 Hwy 9. Felton.