Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership  Group’s (ITV) recent  Solutions for Tri-Valley Housing Affordability forum highlighted the depth of the housing crisis and its effect on the Tri-Valley economy.  Held at Innovate Pleasanton on May 18th, the discussion attracted over 100 people.

Led by Sblend Sblendorio, Innovation Tri-Valley’s chair of Housing, Infrastructure and Transportation, the panel consisted of ITV experts Steve Lanza, Lam Research executive, Jeff Schroeder, Sr. VP, Ponderosa Homes, Linda Smith, Assistant City Manager, Dublin and Linda Mandolini, of Eden Housing.  The consistent message was that the pushback on housing projects can endanger both the Tri-Valley’s economic vitality and quality of life.

According to Lam’s Steve Lanza,  “Even though the Livermore Valley has well-paying job opportunities and a low unemployment rate – around 2% – the existing workforce struggles to find affordable housing and is challenged with traffic-heavy commutes. This is a societal challenge that we all need to work to resolve together.” Lam Research has campuses in Livermore and Fremont.

Panelist Linda Mandolini who is President of Eden Housing Inc., a nonprofit housing development corporation which has emerged as one of the nation’s top developers of affordable housing, noted that “The Tri-Valley has had the good fortune of benefiting from California’s booming economy.  Affordable housing is a critical factoring in sustaining our economy. There are many examples in the region where we’ve made room for more people at all income levels – we need to expand our efforts to build more homes and connect people between homes and jobs.”

“For years we have failed to plan for sufficient housing in the Tri-Valley for those who come here to work, live and raise their families.  This situation is now at a crisis which threatens our employers as they try to recruit for their growing businesses and the environment as more people drive into the Tri-Valley from the Central Valley for work” observed Jeff Schroeder.  “If we fail to address this housing supply problem,” Schroeder continued, “we will exacerbate environmental problems and drive away employment which will ultimately reduce our quality of life.”

Sblendorio agreed saying, “The lack of an affordable and a diverse housing stock makes it difficult for businesses to attract and retain its workforce. The innovation and vitality of the Tri-Valley economy is highly dependent upon the health of its business community. If Tri-Valley businesses say that the lack of affordable housing is hindering their growth, residents should ask their elected officials to work to solve the housing crisis.”

ITV’s chairman, John Sensiba, said that Innovation Tri-Valley was created to form an ecosystem of both innovation and empathy. Empathy plays into the dynamics of housing since many who object to residential or rental projects already have homes.

“We are lucky to have a vibrant economy in the Tri-Valley.  It is OK to invite people in to live in our communities,” Mandolini remarked.

About Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group (ITV)

Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group (ITV) is a collaborative group of industry leaders who are building a robust ecology of innovation in California’s Tri-Valley.  By bringing together companies, non-profits, and regional thought leaders deeply involved in innovation, ITV is improving the business climate of the region, spurring job growth, and expanding the vibrant Tri-Valley community.