Public Comment

How Homelessness Happens – Under Your Nose

Carol Denney
Thursday July 17, 2014 - 12:49:00 PM

Patrick Kennedy’s at it again.

The guy who managed to convince this supposedly green community to build ugly, only-a-student-could-stand-it condos and apartments on toxic former gas station sites wants to up the ante on one of Berkeley’s neighborhoods that suffers the most – southside of campus.

Instead of creating functional, affordable housing, which is not rocket science, these dorm-style revolving-tenancy nightmares are developers’ efforts to capitalize on the housing crisis because a few units are purported to be “affordable” according to Patrick Kennedy: 50% of the median income.

Even if you’re willing to dance with the semantics, this means 59 of the 65 proposed units will be “unaffordable”, in other words highly profitable. It goes without saying that in a deliberately created housing crisis people will, in fact, double and triple-up in absurdly small, window-free units for the duration of their undergraduate or graduate student tenure. Take a look at the horror that is now the town of Isla Vista near the UC Santa Barbara campus for the full view of what happens to a community when ripping off students becomes the dance of the day.

The median income, a number wildly skewed by a techie millionaire or two, is $72,000, half of which is $35,000. If you do the math, this will still leave a minimum wage worker $11,000 short of being able to pay rent alone in one of these units, let alone any other living expense. 

$35,000 a year may look like a low salary to the $200,000 set, but I have news for the planning department, the city council, and anybody who doesn’t object to such proposals. People who are making $35,000 a year are not homeless. 

Absolutely no more square footage in this extremely dense town should be squandered on any proposal that makes no effort to address the housing crisis. Patrick Kennedy’s proposal is absurd for other reasons – the windows-free bedrooms, the annihilation of the nationally renowned Center for Independent Living building, the destruction of any privacy for nearby homes’ backyards, etc. 

But if we’re going to sacrifice the views as well as the atmosphere of an entire neighborhood, compound the current parking insanity, force students to live like dogs in a kennel, let’s at least get some honestly affordable housing out of it. 

For the details: 

Berkeley neighbors question parking, height of student-oriented housing planned on Telegraph