For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 12, 2020
Marin needs to demonstrate fairness in exchange for federal housing grants
San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation about an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and gave its approval during its February 11 session. The analysis examines housing patterns, governmental policies, and other factors affecting racial bias in housing and how patterns of segregation influence the quality of life.
Marin has demonstrated and documented meaningful actions by channeling federal grant funds to local projects for the good of populations that traditionally have been on the receiving end of bias. The projects include the rehabilitation of 26 affordable apartments in Fairfax, supporting programs that help people with disabilities and mobility challenges remain living in their homes, covering predevelopment expenses for a Marin City health complex, and a playground remodel at Pickleweed Park in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael. The funds came from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Home Investment Partnership (HOME) program.
Despite recent progress, Marin still ranks No. 1 among the most racially disparate counties in California. Marin is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, complicating fair housing policies. The median price of a single-family home in Marin is about $1.1 million, and the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is more than $3,100.
Board of Supervisors President Katie Rice noted the “incredible disparity” among those who own homes in Marin and said past discriminatory policies – many fully supported by the federal government prior to 1964 – were “unfair and so wrong.” She said laws today continue to unfairly favor property owners over renters.
“I would like to see us try to act meaningfully on these recommendations (in the analysis), recognizing that they may not get us all the way to where we want to go,” Rice said. “I think we can be really intentional and overt about trying not only to highlight and show how we got here today but that we can take definitive policy recommendations and investments that try to address the disparities and discrimination that has gone on for years in the county. I look forward to the work ahead.”
As a condition of receiving federal funds, the County is required to demonstrate compliance with federal civil rights and fair housing laws by analyzing housing segregation and submitting plans intended to reverse it. Marin faced a February 15 deadline to submit the analysis of impediments.
With the goal of improving the County’s social equity and many other metrics to better track progress towards its goals, the report is illuminating and contains a wealth of data. The County is sending the analysis about Marin’s local housing challenges for vulnerable populations to the federal government with hope that grant funding will continue to support key programs for these recipients.
Over the past few years, CDA staff has conducted an extensive community engagement process by reaching over 2,700 people, from all areas of Marin, with a focus on communities most impacted by barriers to fair housing choice. Participants in a community advisory group and a steering committee became familiar with fair housing laws and the effects of racism and gentrification in communities of color. The recommendations that were submitted in the analysis were a result of the community engagement process with residents and the community advisory group and steering committee.
Marin has made tangible progress in advancing the County’s commitment to equity in housing. In 2018, the Board approved an ordinance requiring landlords to provide reason – a just cause – before evicting a renter within the unincorporated areas of Marin. Earlier, the County implemented source-of-income protections for tenants who receive third-party assistance in the payment of rent. The County collaborates with the Marin Housing Authority in an innovative Landlord Partnership Program that offers incentives to landlords who rent to participants of the federal government’s Housing Choice (“Section 8”) Voucher program.
CDA staff said working closely with HUD is a way for the Marin community to collectively address fair housing patterns by promoting civil rights and fair housing choice for all. Staff plans to provide ongoing community engagement on the topic, expand its list of participants, develop strategies to address opposition for housing development, and help prioritize assistance for to creation of more affordable rental housing options.
Liz DarbySocial Equity Programs and Policy CoordinatorCommunity Development Agency
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 308San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6276Email: Liz DarbyFair Housing webpage