by John Glidden | Sept. 13, 2020
More than 600 people were homeless in the city of Vallejo last year.
In an effort to address the city’s housing issues, the Vallejo City Council is expected to approve a new housing project developer position on Tuesday. The position will be tasked with implementing the city’s new five-year housing strategy which will also go before the council for approval on Tuesday.
The culmination of a 9-month process, the housing strategy is meant to identify goals for the creation of new housing (market rate, workforce, and low income), and permanent supportive housing for homeless in the city of Vallejo.
“This priority has become even more relevant in the current fiscal year. Housing, or lack thereof, is felt across the state, but quite acutely in Vallejo,” according to a staff report. “Affordable and sustainable housing options, such as workforce housing for teachers, are key to the continued growth and development of Vallejo.”
The position will work to secure state and federal funds to help Vallejo meet its housing production goals, and will be responsible for overseeing the construction, and rehabilitation of affordable housing in the city.
To make room for the position, officials are proposing the elimination of a vacant administrative analyst position in the housing division. The new housing project developer position will first go before the city’s Civil Service Commission for approval on Monday before moving on to the city council.
The annual salary for the position ranges between $99,854 to $121,373 and will be funded from the city’s 2020-21 housing budget. Officials said there will be no impact to the city’s general fund.
The general public and council will get their first look at the 125-page draft housing strategy which presents sobering numbers about housing and homelessness in the city of Vallejo.
“While vacancies have declined since 2010, the City currently has about 2,900 vacant
housing units, and a vacancy rate of about 6.5 percent which is relatively high for cities in the Bay Area that have a significant amount of owner occupied single family units like Vallejo,” the report states. “Since 2006, no major multifamily apartment developments have been constructed, which significantly limits the ability for households to find smaller, compact rental housing in Vallejo.”
The report notes that about 92 percent of the city’s 41,000 housing units are more than two decades old – with nearly 63 percent of those units being more than four decades old.
“While Vallejo’s rents and home prices are lower and more affordable than San Francisco and many East Bay communities, many lower income residents and lower wage workers cannot afford to rent an apartment or buy a home in Vallejo,” the report reads. “Vallejo has a growing number of residents with special needs, including seniors and persons who are experiencing homelessness.”
There are already some concerns about the draft document as a local organization is asking the council to delay its vote on the new housing strategy, arguing residents haven’t had enough time to review it.
“If you approve this draft on September 15, you will have made a mockery of your commitment to make sure that the city’s housing strategy is a community-driven document,” according to a statement released by the Vallejo Housing Justice Coalition (VHJC). “Community members in Vallejo need a minimum of 60 days to provide meaningful feedback on a document of this complexity and length. This document holds the vision and action plan that will guide our city in addressing dire housing needs in the immediate future. A document of this magnitude must reflect community insight and principles before it is approved by City Council.”
The coalition also pointed to the lack of feedback from the community during several stakeholder meetings.
“Most importantly, the stakeholder meetings did not represent Vallejo’s diversity–they were overrepresented by privileged groups including realtors, property owners, landlords, and developers,” the coalition said. “These abbreviated stakeholder meetings were structured around pre-selected questions and therefore limited participants’ ability to discuss the full range of their housing priorities. Hence, the draft strategy we are left with does not adequately address the racial and socioeconomic needs of Vallejo’s renters.”
As of January 2019, the city had 638 homeless individuals, or about 55 percent of Solano County’s total number of unsheltered individuals, according to the housing strategy.
The housing strategy includes eight separate recommendations over the coming years to address the situation:
- Promote transparency and build trust with community members;
- Promote fair housing and take meaningful action to achieve balanced and integrated housing;
- Preserve existing housing and expand housing affordability;
- Provide home ownership opportunities for Vallejo renters;
- Prevent homelessness, housing instability and displacement;
- Produce housing for the entire spectrum of residents and workers throughout Vallejo;
- Provide neighborhood services, enhance quality of life and increase opportunity in areas of high poverty;
- Promote job training, employment and economic self-sufficiency.
The special Vallejo City Council meeting will be held via teleconference at 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Members of the Public may provide public comments during the meeting via ZOOM (https://zoom.us/j/91400750676), or via phone, by dialing (669) 9006833.