The solution to our housing problem is an increase in housing supply. But we must recognize that we are part of a regional housing market, and our efforts alone can’t fix the housing problem. Therefore, I support workable solutions to address problems like fast increasing rents. I strongly believe that we can’t subject Richmond residents to policies with a proven record of failure, but must look to follow policies with a proven record of success.

What has Vinay done to increase affordable housing?

I approved every affordable housing development that was brought before the council. In total, I approved the construction of 450 affordable housing units. This is in sharp contrast to my colleagues who opposed the Central Avenue affordable housing project, and now turn around and blame me for not caring about the plight of our low-income renters. Go figure!

Why is Vinay such a strong supporter of social impact bonds? How do they help with affordable housing?

I strongly support our collaboration with the Richmond Community Foundation to design social impact bonds. The money is used to fix blighted properties – making them like new, and sell them at a small profit and at below market price to buyers who are graduates of SparkPoint’s Financial education program. It helps residents buy virtually brand new state of the art affordable housing, and gives them the financial tools to maintain financial stability in their life going forward.This is a fantastic self-sustaining program that addresses all aspects of the situation and requires the city to contribute some logistical help.

What programs did Vinay support to control rent increases?

From April, 2015 to June 2015, city staff considered at least four different proposals to address the issue of high rents. One of these is on the ballot as Measure L. However, city staff maintained that it was the worst of all the four options, an option they did not recommend. I supported all the other three options. The only option I didn’t support was the worst option according to the city staff.

Measure L option is based on the same rent laws that have sent rents skyrocketing in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. One of the options I supported was based on the San Leandro rent laws. In the period from 1998–2015, the rents in San Leandro went up by 80%, while those in Measure L like Oakland went up by 240%. Ironically, in Richmond during the same period, rents went up 60%!

Note: The data for the rents is from RealFax, which is an industry publication that surveys rents at large properties. Therefore, it probably overstates the rent increases in Richmond because many of our rentals are owned by small landlords who charge less rent than the big landlords.