Since deciding to change our focus from tech to real property, we have become extremely busy. Our organization has grown in less than a year from two active volunteers to 11. And we continue to grow.
Affordable Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area
In November 2018, Sonoma County enabled an innovative provision allowing the construction of multiple cottages on lots zoned for single-family houses. After much research, we decided to pursue building 16 tiny houses on foundations ranging from 300 square feet to 800 square feet each. Some houses will be single story. Some will have lofts for extra space. All will be manageable and affordable.
Sonoma County has taken an important step for making affordable housing viable. The cost to build an “affordable” unit in San Francisco is estimated at more than $600,000. The smallest “affordable” SF apartment tends to be around 450 square feet. In the meantime, people are living in RVs and cars. But the Cottage Housing Development provision takes into account that very few people are able to take advantage of conventional affordable units. The provision allows for the construction of tiny houses as homes. They may be small, but they’re bigger than vans. And they cost much less than $600,000 — 85% less.
Truly Affordable Homes
To add insult to injury, the rent rate of San Francisco’s so-called affordable units is still unaffordable for a minimum-wage worker. And they are allowing people to pay 50% of their incomes for these units. But our plans will enable someone making $11 an hour to live comfortably on no more than 30% of their income.
Our goal is to build in Petaluma where there is a SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) station that enables people to reach San Francisco without a car. The cottage provision can be used anywhere in the county where there is access to city services including sewage treatment.
Help Us Reach Our Goal
By the end of 2020 we hope to complete construction of 16 houses in Sonoma County for up to 41 people. And then we want to build more. But to begin, we need to raise $850,000. To achieve this, we need all the help we can get. How can you help?
We are proud to announce that this month Care Association has entered a partnership with Community Thrift Store at 623 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Bring your salable stuff to the store any day of the week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Drop it off at the loading dock on Sycamore Street and tell them it’s for Care Association. Donating it on our behalf will help us help people find affordable housing.
The store takes anything that sells and fits in their store such as (copied from their site):
From the store’s proceeds, both the store and partners benefit. By telling Community Thrift that you want to support Care Association, a sticker with a number for our charity goes on the items donated.
After making a trip to the donations dock, you can reward yourself by visiting the store for a thrifty treasure. In the midst of my KonMari-method tidying, I went to the store and found small boxes and dishes to organize what’s left.
How Your Donation will Help
Community Thrift Store is a valuable resource for about 200 local charities. It goes without saying that real estate is expensive, and most local charities are not Goodwill, Salvation Army, or a church. Your donation will help keep the store’s operations going so that us property-less charities have a thrift shop to call our own.
Your donation will also help Care Association get a little closer to our vision of matching vacant units and rooms to tenants. We are also working on a plan to develop affordable housing. Still other plans are on the horizon. The faster we can raise the funds we need, the faster we can implement care not only in the Bay Area but also around the rest of the U.S.A.
We are starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is another reason why donating to Community Thrift means something. Rest assured that whatever money we receive through the store will go toward benefiting the Bay Area.
Homelessness continues to affect us.
Developers continue to build houses that are too big and costly.
Affordable units continue to be in extraordinarily high demand.
New units take too much time and argument to build.
What can we do?
Many homeowners are willing to offer housing below-market to people they like. But many of these homeowners don’t know where to find them. Under federal law, homeowners with no more than four units on the property on which they reside may choose whoever they want to live there. By providing a platform on which homeowners can get to know prospective tenants, Care Association wants homeowners to be able to exercise their rights while helping a household that is unable to compete in a hyper-inflated market. Though a trouble-free landlord-tenant relationship is without guarantee, establishing dialogue can help both parties make better-informed decisions. The goal of the Care For Us platform is to make connections and facilitate this dialogue.
While Care Association is building the platform, we are reaching out to make connections for people in need. Currently, we are working on finding housing for E’Dreana Black and her son. Get to know E’Dreana on her Care For Us page. We are also raising funds for a security deposit.
Vacant Units Exist
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project found that many-times more vacant residential units exist in San Francisco than do homeless households. Would these units remain vacant if their owners personally knew someone who needed a place to live? Sadly, there is little camaraderie between the Haves and Have-Nots, contradicting idyllic images of community that the Summer of Love presented. California real estate laws are absurdly in favor of the Haves. While rental laws provide some tenant protection, many homeowners avoid having tenants for fear of facing trouble with ones who reserve their right to stay. Until there is change, we need to find alternatives.
One alternative is to reach out to homeowners.
We Have to Start Somewhere
We are starting by working with one household, but the platform will be designed to multiply the effort. And there will be more. Sign up to join the mailing list to stay informed.