From the desk of Holly Tillman

Clayton vice mayor urges a closer look at housing affordability

From the desk of Holly TillmanCLAYTON, CA (Apr. 15, 2022) — Every so often, I will give a guest writer the opportunity to write the column in the Pioneer. As a community volunteer, friend of 10+ years and fellow City Council member, I welcome Vice Mayor Holly Tillman to do the honor this month.
– Mayor Peter Cloven

Thank you, Mayor Cloven. This year is shaping up to be quite busy for our city as we discuss ways to bring in more revenue, dispense federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds we received and ensure we have a compliant Housing Element by January 2023.

On top of that, most of us are also volunteering with various non-profit organizations such as the Clayton Business & Community Association (CBCA) as we bring back our festivals and events.

As I look around town, I see people who come from different walks of life – which is part of Clayton’s charm. Some of us were born and raised here, some are newcomers and others moved to town a decade or more ago. Regardless of when we arrived, I hope we all agree Clayton is a hidden gem in the Bay Area.

Try to go back in time and recall your first encounter with buying a home in Clayton. Was it an easy process or were you outbid? Perhaps you started in a rental until you could afford to buy a home or are still renting as the market rate for housing continues to climb. In any case, you chose to do what was affordable for you at the time, but what exactly does affordable housing mean?

In social media comments or even comments made to me in passing, I am observing the concept of equating affordable housing to crime, unemployment, lack of work ethic and undesirable behavior. However, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) is the affordable limit for a household of four.

In Contra Costa and Alameda counties, the AMI is $125,600. This means a paramedic’s salary would be considered extremely low income in our county.

Would you still be able to buy a market-rate house in Clayton today? Would your friends or neighbors? It’s expensive to live in California for myriad reasons, and the Bay Area is no exception. This is why it is important to plan for not only now, but the future.

We are in the process of updating our Housing Element and engaging with the community on all of our options for zoning for the 570 housing units we were allocated during the 6th Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). I encourage you all to participate in the process by listening to the City Council meetings while we are on Zoom or joining us when we return to in-person meetings, which are every first and third Tuesday.

While doing so, please keep in mind the true definition of affordable housing in our area and who we are excluding by not being open to various housing options other than single-family homes. It could very well be a neighbor who could help save your life.

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