Oakland is on track to surpass its ambitious goal of building
17,000 new homes by 2024, but is falling far short in building
affordable housing, city officials said Tuesday, fueling questions
about whether the city’s massive building boom
will help house its most vulnerable residents.
In the three years since Mayor Libby Schaaf set her housing
target, the city has issued building permits for more than 10,000
homes — but just 7 percent of those were reserved for low-income
families. That’s far less than the 28 percent Schaaf originally
The gap in Oakland’s low-income housing supply highlights a
problem many Bay Area cities are facing as they strive to build
their way out of their respective housing shortages. Even as they
see apartment tower after apartment tower rise around them, city
officials struggle to create the low-cost housing that could help
prevent their poorest residents from getting priced out.
“We are producing a lot more housing,” Schaaf told reporters
during a media briefing at City Hall on Tuesday. “And that does
include an increase in the production of affordable housing — but
not nearly enough.”
Schaaf laid out her plan for Oakland in 2016: build 17,000 new
homes and preserve another 17,000 existing affordable units — all
Of the new housing built, Schaaf promised 4,760 units would be
reserved for low-income renters. And she wasn’t the only one
making big promises. In 2017, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
promised to build 10,000 affordable homes by 2022 in response
to the region’s “massive crisis.” But as of last June,
the city had built just 64 affordable units. All in all,
Liccardo wants to build 25,000 total housing units by 2022. The
city could not immediately provide an update on its progress toward
CA – MARCH 12: A pedestrian walks past a housing and retail space
construction project at 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue on
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area
Oakland has granted permits to build 10,092 homes since 2016 —
nearly seven times the number issued during the prior three years,
according to a report the city’s Housing Cabinet released
Tuesday. Of those permitted units, 9,304 are under construction. If
Oakland continues at its current rate, the city will permit 26,912
homes by 2024 — surpassing its goal of 17,000.
During the same time period, 12,949 low-income households were
shielded from displacement by Oakland’s renter protection
policies — including rules limiting evictions and requiring
landlords to pay their displaced tenants’ relocation expenses.
That effort puts Oakland on track to also surpass its goal of
preserving 17,000 existing affordable homes by 2024.
But when it comes to building new affordable housing that could
help low-income Oaklanders struggling to get by in their rapidly
gentrifying city, the city has fallen far behind. By this time,
Oakland was supposed to have permitted 1,785 affordable homes.
Instead, it has approved 751 since 2016. Of those, 638 are under
Schaaf said city officials knew they were behind, but admitted
her staff is “slightly disappointed” by their progress.
“We are not giving up hope,” she said. “We’re three
years into an eight-year plan. We know that we need to
Oakland has ramped up its affordable housing pipeline, approving
34 percent more units than during the three years prior to this
recent push. But many of the city’s residents still cannot afford
a home. Oakland’s homeless population grew by nearly a third
between 2015 and 2017, according to the Everyone Counts
point-in-time survey. Now sprawling tent encampments cover many
city sidewalks, and RVs and cars turned into homes line the
There’s a great need for more affordable housing in Oakland,
said Blase Bova, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of
Alameda County, which provides rental assistance and other services
to the area’s struggling families.
“I think she’s making a gallant effort,” Bova said of the
mayor. “I just think it’s a very difficult and a very expensive
problem to solve.”
The main problem is the lack of funds, according to the city’s
The city has 1,698 affordable units in the approval process, but
the developers behind those projects need an additional $58 million
from the city to get them off the ground.
About half of the affordable homes Oakland has added since 2016
are new construction, Schaaf said. The other half were existing
units that the city converted into protected, low-income housing by
working with affordable housing organizations.
The Oakland City Council adopted a program in 2016 that requires
developers to pay into the city’s affordable housing coffers, an
effort that has raised $21 million in its first two fiscal years.
Alameda County voters also passed a $580 million affordable housing
bond in 2016. And later this year, the city council is expected to
consider a new policy that sets up guidelines for turning public
land into housing.
Mayor Schaaf releases housing blueprint
State of the City: Mayor Schaaf speaks of a ‘resilient’
Oakland’s creative homeless housing solution expands to popular
But from where Bova stands, things don’t seem to be getting any
better. Local residents, including those with decent jobs, continue
“Many in recent years have fallen behind because rents are
simply so high,” she said, “and income hasn’t kept up.”
Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Oakland isn’t even close to meeting its lofty low-income housing goal