The City of Walnut Creek's Housing Division works to create, preserve and improve a range of housing opportunities and supportive programs serving an economically diverse community.

The Housing Division administers various housing programs and opportunities for very-low up to moderate-income renters, homebuyers, and homeowners, and enforces policies and regulations to support and enhance our community.

Please see our FAQ for commonly asked housing questions.

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Our Programs & Policies

The Supply & Affordability of Housing

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News

Affordable Homeownership Programs Workshop: The City of Livermore will host an Affordable Homeownership Workshop on Saturday, November 4, 2017, 10am-12pm at City Council Chambers Office (3575 Pacific Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550). Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn about affordable homeownership programs, qualifications, and the application process! For more information, please see the flier for more details.

The Affordability of Housing Survey: The Housing Division is planning and implementing various events, activities, and efforts to engage and educate the community now through next year about the affordability of housing.

Please take our quick 5-minute survey about the affordability of housing! Your thoughts will help shape future efforts the City will take to engage the community on this topic. The survey will be available through November 30, 2017.

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Our Programs & Policies

We carry out this mission in a number of ways, including:

  • Creating policies that support the development of affordable housing and subsidizing the development of affordable housing
  • Providing programs to help homeowners, such as loans to rehabilitate homes and grants, down payment assistance loans, a Below Market Rate program for affordable for-sale units, and administering affordable housing programs for homeowners
  • Working to facilitate the private development of new affordable rental housing
  • Providing services to our residents by funding community development grants programs, which include services to seniors, persons with disabilities, abused and neglected children, battered women, persons with HIV/AIDS, homeless persons, and other persons in crisis.

The various programs we administer include:

The various policies we administer and enforce include:

  • Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance
  • Density Bonus Ordinance
  • Commercial Linkage Fee Ordinance
  • Reasonable Accommodation Ordinance

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The Supply & Affordability of Housing

Housing supply and affordability in the Bay Area and state-wide have reached a crisis point. Demand for housing in California’s Bay Area continues to intensify as the region produces jobs and economic growth at a rate above the national average. California has added approximately 820,000 new jobs while only building 63,500 new homes since 2011. As a result of supply not meeting demand, housing prices have risen to the point where many low and moderate income families and households cannot afford to rent or buy a home, leading to a housing affordability crisis.

Scroll down or click on the following specific topics for more information.

The Supply and Affordability of Housing FAQ

Myths vs. Facts

The Supply and Affordability of Housing Publications

Articles and Interesting Reads

 

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The Supply and Affordability of Housing FAQ

What is affordable housing?

In the United States, the term affordable housing is used to describe housing, rental or owner-occupied, that is affordable no matter what one's income is. The U.S. government regards housing costs at or below 30% of one's income to be affordable.

In the Bay Area and during a housing crisis, low- and moderate-income people can have a very difficult time find housing that meets this 30% or less threshold. That’s why developers work closely with the City and State to create and preserve housing for people at these income levels.

What is the housing affordability like in the Bay Area, including Walnut Creek?

Housing supply and affordability state-wide has reached a crisis point and affects many cities in California, including Walnut Creek. Demand for housing in California’s Bay Area continues to intensify as the region produces jobs and economic growth at a rate above the national average. California has added approximately 820,000 new jobs while only building 63,500 new homes since 2011. As a result of supply not meeting demand, housing prices have risen to the point where many low and moderate income families and households cannot afford to rent or buy a home, leading to a housing affordability crisis.

How and who does housing affordability benefit?

Communities thrive when people have safe and stable housing; when they live near their jobs, good schools, and amenities; and when families can build roots and meet diverse neighbors.

  • Supports Economic Vitality: Affordable homes can attract and retain employees to your community- a selling point and a competitive advantage for area employers.
  • Reduces Congestion: Affordable homes support the local workforce so they can live close to their jobs. Shorter commutes allow workers to spend more time with their families while the community benefits from reduction in traffic congestion, air pollution, and expenditures on roads.
  • Ensures Diversity of Housing and Residents: A healthy mix of housing options, from market- rate and affordable rental housing, single- family homes, duplexes, as well as developments for seniors, ensures opportunities for all individuals to improve their economic situation and contribute to their communities.
  • Retains Talented Workforce: As home prices raise, employees cannot afford housing in the area, thus, they are forced to relocate, thus, affordable housing helps employers and businesses attract and retain talent.

What is the City doing about housing affordability issues?

The City is dedicated to finding housing affordability solutions through its various policies and programs. To learn more about our specific policies and programs, click here.

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Affordable Housing Myths vs. Facts

Affordable housing lowers property values in my community.

This belief is arguably the most common myth. Research shows that contemporary affordable housing developments have no negative impact on nearby property values. Affordable housing actually contributes to increased property values. Contemporary affordable housing developments are often indistinguishable from market rate properties, and designed to fit in the character, quality and value of the surrounding neighborhood.

Research: California Planning Roundtable HCD (2002). Myths and Facts about Affordable & High Density Housing; Diamond, R., McQuade, T.(2015).Who Wants Affordable Housing in their Backyard? An Equilibrium Analysis of Low Income Property Development.

Affordable housing will look like “cheap housing” and can undermine community character.

Affordable housing must comply with the same building design and zoning codes and restrictions, and design standards as market-rate housing. Often, because affordable housing projects frequently rely on some public money, they have to comply with additional restrictions and higher standards than market rate housing. Affordable housing is not “affordable” because it’s built with low-quality materials; it is affordable in the sense that it provides decent housing options for working families, disabled individuals and senior citizens at a cost they can afford. Affordable housing tends to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood, or in some cases improve the aesthetic character of the neighborhood.

Research: California Planning Roundtable HCD (2002). Myths and Facts about Affordable & High Density Housing; Ellen, I. (2006). Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhood; Kirk, P. (2017). Project Brings Much-Needed Affordable Housing to Downtown San Diego.

Affordable housing will bring large families to the community and will burden, and hurt the quality of local schools, and lower standardized test scores.

Average households in affordable housing have fewer children than those living in owner-occupied, single family homes. In addition, without affordable housing many families become trapped in a cycle of rising rents and have to move frequently to find living space they can afford. That means their children are not able to stay in the same school for long, resulting in lower test scores on standardized tests. Finally, there are school staff and teachers who earn lower incomes, thus, affordable housing can help them, thus attracting and retaining good teachers and well-staffed schools. When housing disruptions are minimized, everybody wins.

Research: Brennan, M., Reed, P. &, Sturtevant, L. (2014). The Impacts of Affordable Housing on Education; Obrinsky, M. & Stein, D. (2007). Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing.

Affordable housing creates more traffic.

Affordable housing residents tend to own fewer cars and drive less often. Building affordable housing near job centers can help alleviate traffic congestion and support increased use of public transportation. Therefore, affordable housing can help reduce a significant amount of traffic by allowing working people to live near their jobs. This is especially true for multi-family and infill development in more densely zoned neighborhoods.

Research: California Planning Roundtable HCD (2002). Myths and Facts about Affordable & High Density Housing; Obrinsky, M. & Stein, D. (2007). Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing.

Affordable housing brings increased crime.

Affordable housing can help a community maintain a stable population by making it easier to retain people who already live and work there. Families who live in affordable housing seek the same thing every family does – a safe place to raise children and the opportunity to enhance the value of what they own. Affordable housing, as a tool of economic development, can lower crime rates because neighborhood cohesion and economic stability are enhanced.

Research: California Planning Roundtable HCD (2002). Myths and Facts about Affordable & High Density Housing; Diamond, R., McQuade, T.(2015).Who Wants Affordable HouWalnut.Creek

sing in their Backyard? An Equilibrium Analysis of Low Income Property Development.

Affordable housing burdens local tax payers

Property tax for multi-family complexes is significantly higher than single-family homes, thus, paying their “fair share” in local property taxes. In addition, by improving blighted housing stock, or replacing substandard housing stock, affordable housing becomes a net plus on taxes. Instead of low or no payment of taxes by distressed properties, affordable housing actively contributes to the local economy in the taxes paid, and in the money residents earn from stable employment and money spent locally.

Research: Dugan, PO. (2011). But What About Multiple Family Housing: Does it Pay for Itself?; Ellen, I. (2006). Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhood; Obrinsky, M. & Stein, D. (2007). Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing.

Affordable housing is not fair; only the very poor benefit.

A lack of affordable housing negatively affects employers, seniors, low to moderate income people, entry-level and service sector workers, and public sector professionals such as teachers, librarians, and arts, park, and recreation staff. It also impinges on broader quality of life issues such as the economic development of the region, traffic congestion, commute times, and air quality. In short, it affects us all. Effectively solving the housing crisis does not mean addressing the needs of just the poor; it also means addressing the needs of the business community, working- and middle class families, and the broader population.

Research: Chakrabarti, R., & Zhang, J. (2010). Unaffordable Housing and Local Employment Growth; Wardip, K., Williams, L., & Hague, S. (2011). The Role of Affordable Housing in Creating Jobs and Stimulating Local Economic Development.

Affordable housing residents won't ‘fit in' to our community.

In most cases, people who need affordable housing are already members of the community. They are senior citizens living on fixed incomes and families working entry-level and low to moderate-wage jobs. They are preschool teachers, administrative staff, food service workers, and medical assistants.

Research: California Planning Roundtable HCD (2002). Myths and Facts about Affordable & High Density Housing; Federation of Canadian Municipalities (2009). Housing in My Backyard: A Municipal Guide for Responding to NIMBY; Greater Victoria Coalition to end homelessness (2016). ‘NIMBY’ to Neighbour.

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The Supply and Affordability of Housing Publications

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Articles and Interesting Reads

Commentary: What it feels like to be priced out of my own hometown, Martha Ross, East Bay Times

 

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Translation Services /Servicios de Traducción

The Housing Division provides free language interpretation services to the public for its programs.

La Division de Viviendas provee servicios de interpretación gratis en su idioma para el publico en sus programas.

Encuesta de opinión sobre los servicios de traducción de idioma

Contestar la encuesta en español.

Опрос по услугам перевода

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语言翻译服务反馈调查表

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語言翻譯服務回饋調查表

以普通話完成調查。

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