Marin Independent Journal January 27, 1988
Address our housing needs
By Dwayne Hunn
Dwayne Hunn chairs the Marin Housing Development
Trust Fund Task Force.
A recent Marin Independent Journal editorial accurately said:
“Marin land is pricey to the point of exclusivity. We are at risk of becoming a single-class society of landed gentry, served by outsiders who commute because they cannot afford to live where they work.”
In that editorial, the U called for the establishment of a permanent relationship between the Marin Community Foundation and a network of non-profit affordable housing associations.
In 1984, when the San Francisco Foundation administered the Buck Trust, a group of affordable housing providers began to develop such a program. Pursuit of this concept consumed substantial amounts of organizational time, showed few results and produced much frustration.
After two years, at Novato Ecumenical Housing’s urging, Supervisor Robert Stockwell convened the Canal Community Alliance, the Ecumenical Association for Housing, Marin Community Development Block Grant officials and the, Marin Housing Authority to resurrect the idea of a Marin Housing Development Trust Fund. These organizations have provided the staff and funding for a housing development’ proposal.
More than 70 percent of the speakers at the foundation’s community forums expressed affordable housing as their primary need and concern.
As part of the process following their community forums, the foundation is now discussing specific goals for the future in their Consultation Group meetings. Those of us involved in producing affordable housing are confident that the 38-page development trust fund proposal will be given attention by the new foundation.
What would a Marin Housing Development Trust Fund do? As proposed it would implement a unified long-term strategy to produce affordable housing by establishing:
- A revolving low-interest loan program that would support 100 percent of the trust fund’s
- A risk capital program to enable non-profit sponsors to pursue outstanding property acquisition
- A pre-development seed money program, which would use annual earnings on an endowment to
make loans to get projects started.
- A grant program, which would supplement existing sources of such funds to reduce the up-front costs of housing.
The task force requested $5 million a year for four years to implement this model program. At this time, while the foundation’s, income is low for the next few years, $5 million could amount to 25 percent of the foundation’s yearly income — certainly, a lot of money. But when one remembers that most people devote 30 percent or more of their yearly income to shelter costs, that kind of foundation budgeting does not seem unreasonable.
Drawing $5 million a year from the $400 million corpus and securing it on Marin real estate should also be considered as a profitable strategy and a reasonable investment in improving Marin’s quality of life.
Each task force member, as well as the other housing advocates who have provided valuable input to the Marin Housing Development Trust Fund proposal, hope that the New Year will find Marin on its way to answering some of the impassioned pleas for affordable housing that were so often heard during the community forums.