Address our housing needs

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

administrative costs.

  • 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.


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