Impacts on Affordable Housing
How can $600,000 a year from the TOT Impact West Marin’s Housing Crisis?
· Acquisitions of community housing projects
· Grants and Loans to home owners
· Assistance to renters
Given the current price of housing in West Marin, $600,000 a year may seem like an insufficient amount to do much to help or make a dent in today’s community housing crisis. But there are a number of very significant ways these funds can be put to use to begin to address a variety of our housing issues with workable solutions that will yield significant impacts.
Here are few suggested and practical uses of the funds:
Acquisitions of community housing projects
Off-market properties are sometimes offered by sellers who do not wish to participate in the retail real estate market for any number of reasons. These properties may suffer from some degree of deferred maintenance. Owners may not wish to go through the rigors of preparing their home for a line of strangers passing through. Or they may have a philanthropic wish to give a land trust an opportunity to purchase it for community housing. A portion of the funds available through our proposed ballot measure could be used as an earnest money deposit (normally 3% of the purchase price, or $45,000 in the case of a $1,500,000 price) so that a land trust could enter into escrow while it obtained grants, loans, donations and financing for the final acquisition. TOT money could also be used for inspections of the physical condition of the property during the escrow period. Upon completion of the purchase, the earnest money deposit and inspection fees could returned to the housing fund, which is cumulative, to be used again and again.
TOT funds could perhaps be made available for conversions of existing large single-family properties into duplexes or shared living situations for several individuals or two or more families.
Grants and Loans to home owners
TOT funds could also be used as parts of down payments with other funds to provide bridge loans to be repaid when permanent financing is obtained. They could be used for grants or grant/loans to rehabilitate properties acquired by land trusts or to local families who manage to acquire distressed property. Again, a portion of these distributions would be returned to the West Marin housing fund to be used again.
These funds could be used to create an incentive pool for local homeowners to create family housing by adding junior second units when County funds are not available.
Assistance to renters
Funds could be offered for security deposit loans to renters who, when fortunate enough to find a rental, are financially incapable of meeting move-in costs. They could be used to provide temporary rental assistance for tenants who because of job loss or medical emergencies need some help. They could be used to upgrade, enlarge and improve rental units.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, TOT funds will be available in perpetuity; they come every year, they accumulate to be reused in new acquisitions, new rental units or rental assistance. They are a source of seed money for a wide scope of projects all of which serve to improve the communities of West Marin, where the funds are generated, administered and used.