Showing posts with label #HousingElement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #HousingElement. Show all posts

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Addressing Homelessness in Sonoma Valley.

"Sonoma Valley."
© 2020 TJM97.
My friend Fred Allebach shared a public comment today for the upcoming Sonoma City Council meeting on May 3rd, discussing their three-year action plan to end homelessness. The plan aims to address homelessness and housing as interconnected issues. He argued that the plan should focus on housing first as a preventive measure, rather than prioritizing symptom management. The current process has encouraged collaboration among various organizations, but Allebach pointed out that the fragmented nature of local homeless services could be more effectively organized.

Allebach suggested three considerations for decision-makers in Sonoma and the County: First, focus on providing affordable housing and food through a unified effort. Second, establish a solid equity focus within the City to balance its investment in economic and environmental issues. Lastly, shift the focus from addressing homelessness to promoting prevention and healthy, inclusive, and equitable housing.

Fred highlighted the importance of following the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing ("AFFH") policy and the Housing Element ("HE") in order to promote equity. He encouraged council members to study the plans and hold the City accountable for implementing them. He called on the City to partner with affordable housing advocacy groups to advance local housing solutions and consider renter protection policies.

Finally, Allebach suggested several measures to improve housing production in Sonoma Valley, such as creating a joint housing planning area with the County, focusing on shared services initiatives, and engaging wealthy donors to invest in affordable housing projects.

A key challenge in the Sonoma Valley is the lack of a valley-wide authority that can effectively take action, which Fred noted. The City's annexing the Springs had been proposed before but failed to gain political support from existing stakeholders in the City and the Valley. I think it's important to remember that Sonoma Valley's split between City and Springs reflects actual political power, which is correlated with economic clout.

Reform can only succeed if policy is backed up by organization. In considering this, I reflected on the work of Takashi Negishi, whose social welfare weights have been (controversially) applied in a series of contexts. Integrated assessment modeling ("IAM") would probably suggest that there first needs to be economic and political equality before action becomes possible. There are efforts to do precisely that, but in addressing the (sometimes quite awful) facts on the ground, the lack of alignment between elites in the City and in the Valley is probably the most significant hurdle to reform.