Oakland: City, county to turn vacant properties into affordable housing

OAKLAND (BCN)-- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Alameda County Treasurer-Tax Collector Henry Levy said today that they have teamed with the non-profit Hello Housing to transform 26 vacant properties into permanently affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

Schaaf and Levy said the City of Oakland's Housing and Community Development Department, Hello Housing and Alameda County have worked for more than two years to develop a novel process to acquire formerly blighted and tax-defaulted properties for affordable housing.

"We are chipping away at the cost of living crisis one innovative idea at a time," Schaaf said in a statement.

Schaaf said, "Tax-defaulted properties are a major source of blight in Oakland, depressing neighborhood vitality while draining public resources. Our work with Alameda County and Hello Housing has unlocked a
unique tool to address our housing crisis and transform blighted lots into housing that is safe, healthy, and affordable for low-income residents."

Earlier this year, in partnership with the city, Hello Housing, an affordable housing nonprofit organization, bought 26 abandoned, tax-defaulted residential properties in Oakland.

Schaaf and Levy said the new "Oakland Tax-Defaulted Properties" pilot program has multiple goals, including creating new affordable housing units in the face of an escalating county-wide housing crisis and returning
abandoned properties to the tax rolls.

They said additional goals are curbing excessive and continuous city clean-up costs associated with blight and illegal dumping on these lots and enhancing the vitality of Oakland neighborhoods long impacted by blight
and vacancy.

City of Oakland and Alameda County officials said the pilot program began when they entered a unique partnership and mutually agreed to release un-collectable public liens on abandoned properties, enabling those properties to become economically viable for development.

Working closely with the city and the county, Hello Housing identified abandoned properties that could be transformed into new affordable housing for Oakland residents who are at risk of being displaced from their
communities.

City and county officials said the outcome of the new program will be 24 single-family homes that will be sold to low- and moderate- income homebuyers earning a maximum of 120 percent of the area median income and two affordable multi-family rental properties housing about 14 to 19 low-income
renters.

It's expected that residents will begin moving into the properties in late 2018.

"Our department is proud to assist in the creation of affordable housing through the sale of tax-defaulted properties under Chapter 8 (which authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to landlords on behalf of low-income households)," Levy said in a statement.

Levy said, "We welcome the opportunity to work with other eligible nonprofit organizations that wish to use Chapter 8 to develop low-income housing or dedicate vacant land for open space or public use."

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