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Op-Ed: Affordable Housing Not So Affordable

Senior couple who bought city-owed property and was told city would buy it back if problems arose now have regrets.

By John and Robbie Lewis

Several years ago, being trusting seniors and new to the area, we purchased what was said to be “affordable housing for seniors on a moderate income.” Not only had $100,000 just been slashed from the price but the city would buy it back if it didn’t work out for us. 

Well, it didn’t work out for us….we found it necessary to support a very elderly mom, and we had to move.

We listed it, found a buyer, had a deal, lost a deal. The housing market crashed. It still sits empty 4 1/2 years later. We continue to pay into the homeowners association, taxes, insurance, utilities, a bank loan and living expenses for us and Mom.

We asked the city if we could rent it temporarily. No. We asked the city to buy it back. No. 

Affordable housing might look good on paper, but for the elderly who have changing situations, it is a catastrophe ... an unnecessary catastrophe.

Not only is the housing market nonexistent, which makes this place unsellable, the HOA filed a $2.7 million lawsuit against the builder for shabby construction. No lending institution will make a loan.

The city found enough money to build new office buildings for millions, yet can’t find $280,000 to buy this property back.

Hmmm. Can’t sell, can’t rent, city won’t buy it back.

People die, go to nursing homes or need to relocate, but I guess that’s not allowed by the city of Novato.

It looks good on their paper. Not ours.

Baxter July 12, 2011 at 06:30 PM
I would go ahead and rent it out. Don't ask, just do. However, renting a home is another whole ball of wax with its own share of problems. Make sure you get good tenants who will take care of the place. Hope all works out well for you and your family. I personally know how hard it is to take care of an aging parent. Take care.
Tina McMillan July 17, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Can you say who the builder is? Much of the argument in favor of developing more affordable housing in Novato has been based on advocates saying developers are creating exceptional product. It would help to know where that has not been the case.
Michael Reyff July 17, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of mandated affordable housing where corupt, incompetent and illiogical goverment regulations and bureacats dictate the use of private property to the detriment of local communities and their citizens. The only ones who make out are the sophisticated developers that through their non-profit advocate orgainizations and political lobbying created the complex tax and funding laws that only they can navigate and profit through. I know this for a fact as a real estate finance professional. I have seen the millions of dollars made by the developers in this corupt government subsidzed area of real estate.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Please, please, browse Palo Alto Patch for the article about housing requirements. The Palo Alto city council and staff have taken a stand against Sacramento leftists and told them "this is our town, we are going to plan for our future". Why not Novato? Because the Novato City Council uses sanctuary social engineering as a tool against their own constituents. Vote the bums out. Screw leftist "affordable housing" social engineering mandates.
Don July 27, 2011 at 01:45 PM
I just read in the IJ that Novato planning commissioner Peter Tiernan is done. Good by, Next up is the November election. Time to clean house. We need new representation with the best interest of the citizens at hand. Its time to replace Michael Frank as city manager. Novato needs reps with our best interest as their priority.

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