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By Elizabeth Real                        Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                 Facebook    Twitter         Blog
September 27, 2016                        
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Screen grab from Home for All website
A graphic from the Home For All website


East Palo Alto is known to have affordable housing, yet the rise in housing prices has given many residents no choice, but to leave the city.

With the growing displacement of low-income residents because of the increasing cost of housing and the lack of affordable housing, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors formed a task force of community leaders in 2015 to develop possible solutions to the housing shortage. Now, almost a year later, the task force proposed an action plan. It called the action plan the Home For All Initiative.

The initiative was presented to the East Palo Alto City Council at its September 20 meeting and it received the council’s unanimous approval.  This approval came at a time when the council has been bombarded with complaints from city residents about the city’s enforcement of its housing policies.

During the council's meeting on September 6, its first since its summer break, many frustrated residents spoke to the council, during the community forum session, to voice a variety of complaints, about what they considered unlawful home inspections, threats, discrimination, personal abuse and 10-day eviction notices that they were given to many residents by city workers enforcing the city’s housing codes against garage conversions.  Speakers said the eviction notices were causing broken families and homelessness.

During the September 20 meeting, residents again expressed their anger, frustration and sadness as they demanded that the council address how the enforcement of the city’s housing codes was adding to the city's housing crisis.

After listening to their comments, council members attempted to reassure residents that their comments had been heard and that they were working on solutions. Mayor Rutherford announced that the housing issue was placed on the council’s October 18 agenda and would be discussed at this meeting. While some speakers told the council that they were grateful that their complaints had been acknowledged, others pointed out that more families would be left without homes in the time leading up to the meeting.

With the complaints by city residents as a backdrop, the presentation about the Home for All Initiative brought the council news about steps being taken to provide housing solutions. Supporters of the Home for All Initiative said that the initiative positively addresses the housing crisis since it seeks to build partnership and community support for affordable housing, provide support for all types of housing development, fund affordable housing, secure land and strengthen community infrastructure.

The task force representatives, who presented information about the initiative, told council members that four different groups would be formed to ensure that various aspects of the housing issue -- such as funding, legislation, parking, congestion, mobility, outreach and education – would be addressed.

As part of their resolution, council members agreed to support rent stabilization efforts and adopt regulations that would encourage appropriate and lawful second units—the latter particularly addresses the concerns made by residents to the council.

Although solving the housing crisis will take time, council members expressed through their positive comments, the view that the Home for All Initiative is a step in the right direction.

For more information on the initiative see the Home for All Initiative website at http://www.homeforallsmc.com/