Santa Rosa, CA – May 24, 2017 – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today approved multiple actions that will increase the supply of affordable housing in Sonoma County. These actions included policy changes that free up local housing development funds for use in all areas of Sonoma County, and building 12 or more “Tiny Houses” on County-owned land located at 665 Russell Avenue, in Santa Rosa.
“Today’s Board action moves our strategic priority of addressing affordable housing and homelessness boldly forward,” said Sonoma County Board of Supervisor Chairwoman Shirlee Zane. “We are going to put roofs over heads that would have otherwise been on the street. It is clear we need more housing, and we need it now. I look forward to seeing the Tiny Houses built and filled by this fall.”
The County’s Tiny House pilot project is one of the first in the nation to use government-owned land to create Tiny Houses. The land will be leased to Community Housing Sonoma County, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, which was awarded a contract following a competitive solicitation process in July 2016. The three-year pilot will demonstrate the viability of a combined housing and service model and will include on-site management.
“Community Housing Sonoma County is pleased to work with Sonoma County to help provide safe, reliable and comforting homes to our community,” said Paula Cook, Executive Director of Community Housing Sonoma County. “The Tiny Homes Pilot Project fully embodies the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors priority to provide housing to all.”
The total development cost for Community Housing Sonoma County’s proposal is $1.03 million. The project will use Federal Veterans Administration Supportive Housing funding for monthly rental subsidies for all residents through the Santa Rosa Housing Authority.
The Board also adopted a change in policy today that will allow the use of the County’s Housing Trust Fund in both unincorporated and incorporated cities. Previously, the funds were limited to unincorporated county areas. The County Fund for Housing receives “in-lieu” fees from developers as part of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, as well as contributions from the County’s General Fund. Since its inception the County Fund for Housing has invested over $24 million and spurred the production of more than 550 affordable homes throughout the county.
In prior actions, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Building HOMES Toolbox in 2016 following study sessions with community members that sought to identify housing strategies to end homelessness in Sonoma County. Several approaches were identified including rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, housing for homeless youth, set-asides in affordable housing developments, rental subsidies and “Housing First.”
Affordable Housing Policy Facts:
- Although Sonoma County has met 57 percent of its Regional Housing Need of 936 new housing units for the eight-year period between 2015 and 2023, much work still needs to be done to create multi-family housing
- Sonoma County needs more than 17,144 affordable homes for low-income individuals and families.
- Median rents have increased over 16% since 2000, while median renter household incomes have decreased 6%.
- Sonoma County’s lowest-income renters spend 68% of their income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health expenses and other needs.
- Multi-family housing rental units provide the highest level of affordability and density and need to be located within cities or designated urban service areas with sewer infrastructure.
- A 100% density bonus is available for multi-family rental housing when at least 40% of units are affordable.