Matt Franklin oversees Silicon Valley’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, MidPen Housing, which provides a place to live for more than 14,250 people in Northern California. One such affordable development, City Center Plaza in Redwood City, combines ground-floor restaurants and retail with several dozen housing units.
- by Lauren Hepler –
Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Silicon Valley; Matt Franklin has seen the issue of affordable housing from vastly different vantage points.
Still, the five years he has spent as president of Foster City affordable housing developer MidPen Housing has covered a period of jarring change.
Local fallout from the foreclosure crisis, 10-figure funding cuts and a new tech boom have coalesced to make the region’s long-term housing prospects murkier than ever.
In an interview edited for length and clarity, Franklin — a veteran of both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and California’s Department of Housing and Community Development — explains how Silicon Valley got here, why the housing crunch matters for residents at all income levels and which potential solutions he is eying to better meet housing demand.
Where are we in the housing market?
It’s been an amazing five years for the country and for Silicon Valley in terms of exacerbating the affordable housing crisis. With redevelopment agencies going away, everything is kind of in turmoil.
It’s a little counter intuitive. Some people think ‘well, gee, we’ve got all these foreclosed homes.’ For every foreclosed home there’s a displaced family. The number of renters overall has also gone way up. It’s up almost 20 percent on the base compared to pre-2008. A lot of people are predicting that there’s gonna be a permanent shift in attitudes — that the luster or the glow is off the apple pie story of homeownership.