With the Bay Area Council Economic Institute reporting record high housing insecurity across the peninsula, Palo Alto City Council’s approval of a new $26 million housing project marks an admirable cornerstone in overcoming the city’s housing instabilities — one The Campanile supports.
Despite complications, including an over $8 million increase in costs from the original proposal, City Council’s efforts to pursue the initiative highlights the value it places on the homeless population. By supporting this initiative, Palo Alto fosters a more humanitarian environment for the entirety of its residents.
City council member Greg Tanaka — the sole member to oppose the updated, more expensive proposal — told The Campanile that granting an additional $8 million to the project would remove crucial funding from future initiatives.
While $8 million is certainly a costly increase to the project’s budget, it is a worthy one nonetheless considering the program’s capacity to bring affordable housing to over 130 homeless people. While the additional funding could have been used to support future projects, the city’s current list of approved projects are primarily composed of retail, office and parking spaces, all worth objectively little compared to the fundamental human need of housing the funding could provide instead.
That said, the housing project will not solve many of the underlying issues of homelessness itself, namely, substance abuse. If City Council had allotted the housing project the $17.6 million it initially agreed upon, it could have then used the additional $8.4 million towards hiring social workers, nurses and psychiatrists or increasing funding for existing, local rehab institutions, which would have shown a genuine dedication to resolving the city’s homelessness crisis.
The project, either way, will provide a great deal of benefits to the city’s homeless population, yet begs the question, why not sooner? Palo Alto is one of the wealthiest cities in the nation but has failed to effectively address homelessness at this level until now.
Even so, City Council’s current efforts to fund affordable housing are commendable and set a valuable precedent as a first step in overcoming the homelessness crisis. The Campanile urges cities throughout the Bay Area to follow suit, prioritizing their homeless populations and funding initiatives aimed at providing them with affordable, accessible housing.