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Affordable housing a must for library project

From: domainremoved <Karen>
Date: Wed, 23 May 2018 10:26:05 -0700

Dear Mayor Ohtaki and City Council Members,
I’m writing in support of including low-income affordable housing as part of the main library renovation project.  The site is an absolutely ideal place for affordable housing. 
1) It is public land, thus the cost barrier to build low-income housing is greatly reduced.  Timing wise, the project is in the works now, and for now, the county has measure K funds, and the state is making funds available as well…

2) We know that building homes near transit with the right supports, reduces local traffic, and the more affordable the unit, the more dramatic the reduction in vehicle miles driven. Building affordable housing at the library site will reduce local traffic congestion and reduce our city’s Green House Gas emissions.

3) This library site is what HUD calls a “high opportunity” neighborhood – in addition to being near transit, it is near shops and services and in our high-performing school district.  Research shows that children’s health, education, and economic outcomes are much more dependent on the socio-economic status of the neighborhood they grow up in – than on the relative wealth or poverty of their family.  Affordable housing for low-income families at the library site will give our low-income residents the opportunity to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and contribute their unique talents to our community.
Finally, I have one more -- uncomfortable -- point.
We are required to meet our Regional Housing Needs Allocation for low-income housing, and if we don’t maximize use of public land in downtown Menlo Park, I fear we will build all of our low-income housing on less costly Belle Haven land, where the population is mostly black and brown and poor.
I worry – that if you approve the main library project without low-income housing tonight, then in a few months, you may be compelled to approve a parking structure on public land without low-income housing.  Before we know it, the *only* place we’ll be able to afford to build the low-income affordable housing that is required by our Housing Element will be in Belle Haven.
And so would continue our long history of segregation.
Tonight, you get to decide if Menlo Park will repeat the all-too-common and repetitive pattern of segregation or shift direction and live firmly into our values of inclusion, equal opportunity, and environmental sustainability.  Please don’t waste this opportunity.
Karen Grove
Menlo Park resident and Housing Commissioner
Received on Wed May 23 2018 - 10:27:09 PDT

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