PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Palo Alto is seeking housing solutions for residents who are not among the Silicon Valley region’s super-rich, but who also earn more than the threshold to qualify for affordable housing programs.
The city council has voted to study a housing proposal that would essentially subsidize new housing for what qualifies as middle-class nowadays, families making from $150,000 to $250,000 a year.
The plan would focus on building smaller, downtown units for people who live near transit and don’t own cars, along with mixed-use retail and residential developments.
Sky-rocketing housing prices in Palo Alto have left some in limbo; with teachers, firefighters and other government workers not earning enough to afford cost of living.
Randy Bean says while she still loves her Palo Alto neighborhood, she can’t help but notice the changes that are making it unrecognizable.
“I just find it kind of sad that we are reducing ourselves to this small profile of young, rich, mostly white, mostly tech. It’s not the community that I moved into 33 years ago,” Bean said.
And now, as a documentary film producer, she says she can’t afford to stay here.
Some of the small two-bedroom, one-bath homes on her block are worth between $1.5 and $2 million – as teardowns. That’s just what the dirt is worth.
“Prices have just gone through the roof, making it unaffordable for middle-class people, your firefighters, your teachers, and, frankly, some of your doctors,” Palo Alto Vice Mayor Greg Scharff said.
Scharff worries that losing middle-class workers will hurt the city. “What the council is proposing is that we work together to fund and subsidize, what is basically middle-class housing; which, traditionally, has not been subsidized,” Scharff said.
Bean can hardly believe it.
“We have people struggling to make it at a quarter-million dollars a year,” Bean said. “That’s a terrible thing.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Palo Alto City Council had passed the plan. The city council has voted to study the issue.