Councilmember Haffa Fights for Affordable and Stable Housing
Updated: Jun 25
As your Monterey City Council member, I have fought for affordable housing and housing stability because I know that the cost of housing on the Monterey Peninsula is too high for most of the people who work or go to college here. A healthy and sustainable community is one that has diverse housing that meets the needs of everyone who would like to work here. One of the most basic ways we can support our sustainable Monterey community is keeping people housed, especially in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Being forced out of your home and trying to find other housing during a Pandemic is contrary to the need to Shelter In Place and minimize the chance of spreading infection. I'm proud that our city was the first in Monterey County to create a moratorium on evictions during the Covid emergency and we also passed a temporary moratorium on rent increases during the health emergency because exploding rents would also force people who should be staying home to have to move. Finally, Monterey's caring council approved up to $800,000 for emergency rental assistance for people who live or work in Monterey and have lost income due to Covid and need help making the rent. I have a proposal to fund a permanent rental assistance program that would continue post Covid 19 and will work to implement it this Winter if the voters send me back for a third term on city council.
Another important strategy to addressing affordability is building more affordable housing. Some people say we simply need to let the "market fix the housing problem," but there are underlying factors that make that impossible and in fact if it were possible the market would have solved our housing problem already. The lack of available land, scarcity of water, and the demand in our area for second homes make it impossible to keep up with demand in a way that achieves affordability. As a result, the only way we can have affordable homes for low and moderate wage workers and students is with government action. We are taking two approaches: incentives to developers to build affordable housing and building 100% affordable on city land in partnership with non-profits. Currently the city has 550 affordable units but we are committed to doing more. I supported the city rezoning the commercial zone along Garden Road to allow conversion to housing and in the next few years there are plans to build several hundred new housing units there. I also supported the council decision to rezone East Downtown, allowing greater density and height in exchange for additional affordable housing and we have one planned project there. I also supported the council decision to seek non-profit partners to develop underused lots owned by the city that would be 100% affordable, creating as many as another 100 affordable units.
As we build new affordable housing it is important to keep our small town feel and quality of life and we can do that by building new housing in commercial and transit corridors like North Fremont, Garden Road, and downtown. Housing people in these areas makes it easier for them to use alternative transportation and shop within walking distance, taking cars off the local roads. Housing people who work in Monterey in the city will reduce traffic on our regional highways, reducing pollution and carbon emissions. This strategy will preserve the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods while expanding housing opportunities for our workforce.
My efforts to address affordable housing are recognized by housing rights advocates; I'm proud to be endorsed by Monterey Peninsula Renters United and Monterey Bay Renters Coalition. The people who build homes also endorse me, the Carpenter's Union Local 910 and Santa Cruz/Monterey Building and Construction Trades Council. Many of the folks who need affordable housing and work in Monterey, hospitality workers Unite Here 483 and Monterey General Employees, both endorse me. And the people who sell homes, the Monterey County Realtors Association, also endorse me. Building housing requires team-work and coalition building and these endorsements speak to my ability to bring diverse interest groups together to build affordable housing and solve our problems collaboratively.