Guest Opinion - Will Elk Grove City Council Let Renters Break the Rental Cycle and 'Own a Piece of the Rock’ Too?




How Current City Policy Favors Landlords and Keeps Renters Renting | 

 By Lynn Wheat | 

According to city records, approximately 28-percent of the homes in Elk Grove are rentals. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a City housing policy that would allow renters to purchase affordable single-family homes, earn equity, and ultimately share in the prosperity of Elk Grove? Sort of like that old Prudential Insurance commercial, "earn a piece of the rock". 

To help encourage the construction of affordable single-family homes, the City of Roseville recently adopted an "Inclusionary Housing" policy and so should Elk Grove. The Roseville policy is for builders to build at least 10% of the homes in their new projects for households who qualify as low and moderate-income. The city even backs a "silent" second mortgage for buyers to provide the necessary down payment and gives preference to Roseville residents.  

I have been advocating for an inclusionary housing policy in Elk Grove for over 10 years now. According to the Non-Profit Housing Association (NPH), over 170 cities in California have adopted an inclusionary housing program (https://inclusionaryhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/NPH-IHinCA2006.pdf).  With the City currently updating its Housing Element, the time is ripe for adoption. but the public must get involved!

The City Council has historically accepted the developer’s preference that a one-time fee be paid when they build their new subdivisions (typically comprised of the largest and highest-priced homes the market will bear), and when the City accumulates sufficient funds, they help subsidize a new apartment project for low and moderate residents. I would like to see residents have an opportunity to break the rental cycle like Roseville and the other 170 cities in the state have.


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There has often been a negative stigma associated with low and moderate residents. However, it may surprise some to know that school teachers, paramedics, mail carriers, auto mechanics, teachers, and warehouse salaries would all qualify as low or moderate-income. Surely no one would disagree that these are essential and welcome residents to any city, and should deserve an opportunity “own a piece of the rock” too.

While the City leaders praise the ethnic diversity of Elk Grove, I would like for them to also embrace the economic diversity that exists in our city as well. Three of the five current City Council members are rental landlords. And while the City Council emphasizes the importance of sales tax revenue, I would like for them to view our renters as more than just sales tax generators. I would like to see the renters, who are also residents of our city, have the opportunity to live the American Dream and share in the prosperity of Elk Grove.

The City is currently updating its Housing Element and I urge all residents who support greater home ownership opportunities to contact their City Council members urging them to support an Inclusionary Housing ordinance.  We can do better, and deserve better!

Lynn Wheat is a candidate for Elk Grove City Council District 3.


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