Project

Progressive Housing Policy in the City of Berkeley, California

Goal: Combine a history of progressive housing policies and programs instituted in the City of Berkeley, California over the past 40 years with a clear statement of the underlying social and economic theories implied by these policies. Suggest implications for housing related social movements.

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Project log

Stephen E. Barton
added a research item
A well-designed moderate rent stabilization program increases tenant and community stability and reduces displacement by providing renters with stable and predictable rents in areas suffering unreasonable rent increases. In these areas, where a shortage of housing has given landlords an unfair advantage in bargaining power, rent stabilization and eviction for good cause ordinances establish a more balanced set of rights and responsibilities between tenants and landlords. A well-designed rent stabilization program restrains increases in “scarcity rent”, increases that are over and above the rent level actually necessary to profitably operate and maintain the property. Rent stabilization can also help to ensure buildings are properly maintained and discourages speculation. Moderate rent stabilization programs have no effect on new construction. Moderate rent stabilization programs generally allow full or partial decontrol when a tenant moves. This provides tenants with stable rents and slows the rate at which rents increase, but it does not hold down rents permanently and does not ensure the long-term affordability of rental housing. Rent stabilization is an essential policy for preventing displacement and giving tenants stable housing costs. It is not a panacea, but rather one essential housing policy tool among many.
Stephen E. Barton
added 10 research items
Inclusionary zoning, commonly known as inclusionary housing (IH), first originated in the United States in the early‐1970s in the wealthy suburbs of Washington, DC. Since then, the epicenter of IH practice in the U.S. has moved west to California. Today, more than 25 % (145) of the state’s local governments have adopted inclusionary policies. These policies vary greatly in detail, but share common characteristics. In contrast, IH in Europe is of newer vintage, emerging mostly in the 1990s as governments began to withdraw from direct provision of social housing and impose affordable housing requirements on private developers. And, unlike Europe, IH in the U.S. is not imposed via national, state, or regional government land use and planning laws, but is, generally, a voluntary election by individual localities. Since 2008, the implosion of the California real estate market and negative court cases have challenged the fundamental assumptions underlying IH and brought the virtual cessation of new IH programs. Some existing programs have been modified, suspended, or repealed. This research discusses the political and ideological debates that inform IH within the American context, profiles the origins and characteristics of these programs, and speculates about the future of IH in view of recent changes in the housing market and the legal environment.
Analysis of the policy choice between social housing and housing allowances has been obscured by the older housing policy debate between proponents of supply subsidies and proponents of demand subsidies. Social housing uses capital grants both to reduce monthly housing costs to below-market rates and to take existing or newly constructed housing out of the market, so that ownership is nonprofit and use is allocated according to need rather than ability to pay. Housing allowances, o n the other hand, enable poor tenants to pay market rents for housing. During the past 15 years, even as housing allowances became the dominant mode of Federal assistance, social housing programs grew at the local level. Comparison of model social housing and housing allowance programs by the number of people helped over time, effects on economic integration and program stability suggest that the choice between these programs depends primarily on alternative expectations for the future. The most active local constituencies favoring housing programs for low income people have pessimistic expectations about the national economy and the social safety net, as well as professional interests that are likely to favor social housing programs more than housing allowances.
Stephen E. Barton
added a project goal
Combine a history of progressive housing policies and programs instituted in the City of Berkeley, California over the past 40 years with a clear statement of the underlying social and economic theories implied by these policies. Suggest implications for housing related social movements.