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Strategies to Retain Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing in Redwood City

Undergraduate Practicum - Winter 2019
Naomi Alem, Amadou Bah, Mueni Ithau, and Janelle Miller

Recent estimates from UC Berkeley researchers find that between 2000 and 2015, San Mateo County lost 44% of its non-subsidized (or “naturally occurring”) affordable housing.i Following the Great Recession, the economic recovery in the San Francisco Bay Area has been particularly strong as sustained job growth fueled intense demand for housing. Communities across the region are attempting to construct new housing to increase the overall supply, but more immediate strategies are needed to address the pressing issue of displacement of vulnerable residents who cannot keep pace with rising rents. This challenge is particularly acute in Redwood City (RWC), where housing affordability has been a strategic initiative of the City Council since 2016.

The following memorandum details the work that the Stanford Public Policy Practicum team -- in conjunction with Stanford Sustainable Urban Systems (SUS) -- has completed for the Redwood City Housing and Human Concerns Committee (HHCC or Committee). At the Committee’s request, our team has spent 10 weeks researching and analyzing policy options to answer the following question: What policies (incentives and regulations) can Redwood City implement to maximize the retention of affordable housing to shelter low- and moderate-income earners in the city?

Using publicly-available data, the policy team has performed both quantitative and qualitative analyses to better understand Redwood City’s housing stock and anti-displacement strategies employed by the city to date. This analysis has been informed by stakeholder interviews and external research of other U.S. jurisdictions confronting a housing shortage.