Launch of the Lilypad Flexible Housing Initiative

frog launching off lily pad

February 10, 2015

On January 21, the Lilypad Flexible Housing Initiative, Lilypad FHI for short, was launched at the TEDx Marin Community Gathering and received a lot of attention.  Lilypad FHI formalizes Rachel Ginis’ advocacy throughout Marin County to spread the idea of junior second units (see the previous post for more on JSUs).  Its mission is to help create affordable housing for all, which will be accomplished by:

  • Educating

We are educating key groups about the benefits of flexible housing, and we are publishing articles in local newspapers such as the Voice piece about junior second units published recently in the Marin IJ.  We’ll continue our efforts via classes, talks to organizations, social media, and more.

What can you do to help?  Talk it up – tell your friends about flexible housing and junior second units.  Think about creating a junior second unit yourself.

  • Advocating

Town and city planners across Marin recognized a good idea when they heard it, and 9 of the 12 Marin jurisdictions have included junior second units in their Housing Elements for 2015-2023. This means they have made a formal commitment to investigate making JSUs legal as a means of gaining affordable housing units.  But we want them to go beyond investigation, so we’ll keep advocating for the zoning changes that are needed to enable residents to create JSUs.  We’ll also work with the utilities and agencies to push for fee reduction and/or elimination.

What can you do to help?  The level of commitment varies by town, but the door is open for you to contact your town’s planners and let them know that you support JSUs.  You can also contact your local water and waste water agencies and explain that additional fees for JSUs don’t make sense because the resources for these small units have already been accounted for in the original permit for the home.

  • Providing Financing Options

We intend to create a fund to lend money to homeowners so they can create JSUs and repay us over time from the rental income.  Although there are loans available from the Marin Housing Authority for very low income homeowners, there are a lot of retirees who have too much income to qualify for a Housing Authority loan but not enough income to qualify for a bank loan.  That’s our target group.  We also want to find other financing options so that anyone who wants to create a JSU can do so.

What can you do to help?  Connect us with people you know in the lending industry so we can learn what we need to know to make this happen.  Connect us with possible donors so we can fund the fund!

Please visit us at and consider donating to support our work.  The Lilypad Flexible Housing Initiative is a nonprofit initiative sponsored by MarinLink, a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, and all donations are fully tax-deductible.

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