A new report was recently released by the California Housing Partnership, a private nonprofit organization, shedding light on Santa Cruz County’s housing shortage. According to the report summary, Santa Cruz County needs 12,000 additional units to meet present-day demand. If added to our housing supply, these units would ensure that the lowest-income households would not spend more than 30% of their annual income on housing — a federally recognized definition for affordability.

 

In November, residents of Santa Cruz County will be voting on a new measure which will authorize the county to issue up to $140,000,000 in general obligation bonds. To fund these bonds, homeowners will be taxed at an estimated rate of $12.21 to $16.77 per $100,000 of assessed value.

 

Officials estimated that the bonds under Measure H would generate $8.6 million annually. The measure was designed to allocate funds in the following way:

  • $105 million (75 percent) toward construction of 1,041 rental units and accessory dwelling units for low-income and moderate-income households;
  • $21 million (15 percent) toward homeless facilities and year-round shelter; and
  • $14 million (10 percent) toward loans for first-time homeowners

 

To maintain a diverse and thriving economy in Santa Cruz, affordable housing is desperately needed. Everyone from our teachers to our firefighters need places to live and our community clealry needs their services. Furthermore, if the pressure caused by our housing shortage is not relieved, extreme measures like Santa Cruz City’s Measure M, the Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction ballot measure, may become more common.

 

On the other hand, the construction of more housing may lead to increases in traffic and noise and may add more strain on our natural recourses such as water. Additionally, the bill for these additional units will be paid by homeowners. The best estimate of the average annual tax rate that would be required to fund the bond issue over the duration of the debt service is $12.21 per $100,000 of assessed value though estimates show that the rate could go up to $16.77 per $100,000 of assessed value. So if your home is assessed at $800,000, you would pay up to approximately $134 per year in additional taxes.

 

These sides have to be carefully balanced when voting this November. If you want to learn more about Measure H, You can read the full text here, as well as arguments for and against the measure here.

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