As a young adult who grew up in San Mateo County, I have always loved and been interested in the communities I live, work, and play in. I studied urban planning with an emphasis on housing and community development in both undergrad and grad school. I now work at a non-profit organization, The Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, that was created as a resource for San Mateo County residents to find, advocate, and learn about housing in our county.
In my work, I am most often asked what affordable housing is. According to the federal government, housing is considered “affordable” if it costs no more than 30 percent of the monthly household income for rent and utilities.
There is a general misuse of the term affordable housing, and a misconception that affordable housing refers to subsidized developments that are dangerous, unattractive and for people who do not work.
South San Francisco has affordable housing developments that encompass what great affordable housing should be and hopefully refutes these sort of misconceptions—for example, the new development next to South San Francisco High School at 636 El Camino Real by MidPen Housing Corporation. This affordable housing development will include 109 one to three bedroom units, community gardens, a community room, a computer center and childcare on-site. 20 of the 109 units are set aside for adults with special needs. , speaking to the extensive need for affordable housing in our community.
Currently, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County averages at $1,522 per month. That means a single-person household needs to be making over $60,000 per year in order to afford housing in this county. Think of all the people every community needs that make less than that – teachers, people who work in our grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants, etc.
I believe that a home is one of the most basic and important needs for people across all age, income and ethnic groups and that everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, vibrant, healthy community that supports a good quality of life. I hope through my blog series, I can reach out to SSF residents who may not be aware of resources, information, or the connection between affordable housing and a complete community. I welcome a dialogue with readers who are interested in these topics.