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MEHC Stands for Environmentally Friendly Affordable Housing
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Welcome to the view from here.

We are MEHC -- housing, environmental, and social justice advocates supporting affordable housing in Marin since 2006.

Housing is hard to do in Marin.  We keep asking ourselves: 
Affordable housingwhy bother?

MEHC's PERSPECTIVE will address this question over the next 12 months. 

Affordable housing, why bother?

Why Bother, Indeed.


Today, Marin is in a severe housing crisis. 

Fully 96% of our housing is market-rate; this means that households with only moderate income can afford to live in only 4% of our housing units, and only 3% of our homes and apartments are within the affordability reach of lower income folks. In the past 12 months, the median price of for-sale housing has increased 14%, and rents are increasing faster than incomes. There has been an exponential increase in evictions, making the homeless crisis the worst it’s ever been.

mehc trafficOne reason to be bothered is because the environmental impacts of the affordable  housing shortage are unsustainable. 

Marin County has some of the worst freeway congestion in the Bay Area. Mostly due to the cost of housing, 62% of the people who work in Marin commute from other counties. Most of the 68,000 people who drive into Marin drive alone, making our already exorbitant carbon footprint even more egregious. 

You should also be bothered by the economic effects of our housing imbalance. 

The majority of Marin’s workforce earns their money here, but spends it where they live, in other counties. A 2011 study by the Marin Economic Forum found that this outflow amounted to a $1.4 billion loss in potential revenue to local businesses. The same study found that if affordable housing were created for just 1% of Marin’s in-commuters, the new households would add over $14 million to Marin’s economy.

mehc childplayHiring service-workers like elementary school teachers and health aides is becoming a real “bother” for Marin employers. 

Economists generally agree that families who pay more than 30% of their income for housing are likely to have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Based on this standard, a household of four would need to earn $8,187 per month or $98,240 per year to afford the average rental in Marin... IF they could find a place to rent at all. The starting salary for a schoolteacher in San Rafael is less than half of that amount -- $43,050.

mehc porchsittingThe lack of affordable housing can also be a big “bother” for our seniors because many of them are house-rich and cash-poor. 

They have trouble making ends meet, and are lacking affordable housing options in order to age in their own community.



mehc pedestrianarea

 But what bothers us the most is that none of this is coincidence, and it’s not all due to the blind hand of supply and demand.

Our housing market was and is shaped by local government decisions. Over the past 40 years, local government in Marin has restricted the growth of housing supply while increasing housing demand with policies that grew thousands of low-wage retail and service jobs.

Stick with Us!

Over the next year, we'll tell you more about why we all should “bother” with affordable housing and what we can do about it. Watch for our monthly newsletter MEHC Perspective in your inbox. Be sure to sign up on our email list to stay informed about important opportunities--and challenges--to affordable housing in Marin. Stay tuned!

mehc homeless stats

Homelessness is on the upswing...not in a good way.

Every other January, communities throughout the nation conduct "point-in-time" counts of their homeless populations. Marin’s January 2015 survey found 1,309 people living without a home. This was a big increase, as well as an unfortunate change in direction, from the previous two counts that found 1,220 homeless in 2011 and 924 people without a home in 2013.

What was different? Rents for one thing. Job growth accelerated rapidly after 2012, and rent increases followed suit, especially after 2014. County-wide average rents increased 13.4% in 2015 and have risen another 4.6% -- so far – in 2016.

Who was homeless in 2015? Most homeless folks – 71% -- were from Marin. 66% were men; 11% were under 18, and 28% were between 18 and 24 years old. 14% had been in foster care. Many had health problems, including 28% who suffered from drug or alcohol abuse and with 30% reporting psychiatric problems (many were in both categories). 49% had been without a home for less than a year.

of survey respondents said YES when asked if they would want safe, affordable permanent housing were it available. 

* Action Alert *

Housing discrimination is against the law, but discriminating against people with a housing subsidy ISN'T.

Attend the

Board of Supervisors Meeting

October 25 @ 5:30 pm


November 1 @ 9:30 am

Support ending

"Source of Income" discrimination

If you agree that "Source of Income" discrimination is WRONG, you have an opportunity to STAND WITH MEHC and many other social justice organizations.

Attend the Board of Supervisors meeting at 5:30 pm on Tuesday Oct. 25 and/or Tuesday Nov. 1 at 9:30 am where they will consider adopting an ordinance to end discrimination against families and veterans who receive third party rental assistance. More info on the Marin County website here. If you would like to review MEHC's points and our position, please visit our website.

Get MEHC’s Perspective