An affordable housing development near San Jose’s Roosevelt Park will finally break ground after years of delay—with financial help from the city.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept roughly $56.5 million in state grants and loans from multiple sources for First Community Housing to start construction on a 79-unit affordable apartment complex. The housing proposal, approved by the city in 2019, has stalled for years due to lack of funding.
While councilmembers approved funds without discussion, several residents spoke in support of the housing project, saying such developments are crucial to the city’s plan to address homelessness.
“I’ve witnessed homelessness firsthand, living alongside Coyote Creek,” resident Ryder Genji said, adding the homeless crisis has not slowed down despite unprecedented funding. “The fact that this situation has not changed even now is proof that our community must move forward with this opportunity.”
San Jose has been racing to build more housing—especially affordable homes—to combat a housing crisis that has driven thousands out of the area and pushed many others into homelessness. The city has a lofty goal of building 25,000 residences, including 10,000 affordable units, by 2023, but progress continues to fall short. City leaders have started exploring incentives to entice developers to build affordable homes. These ideas include speeding up the permitting process, cutting construction taxes and doing away with commercial space requirements.
In an effort to move the Roosevelt Park project forward, councilmembers approved $12.6 million in state funding from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, a $42.1 million forgivable loan from the California Housing Accelerator Program and an additional loan of $1.8 million from the city.
The forgivable loan has zero interest for 20 years, according to the city. The Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant helps fund housing projects near transit corridors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The California Housing Accelerator Program, established by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, aims to alleviate financial burdens for affordable housing projects.
San Jose expects the financial risks associated with these state programs to be minimal.
“Getting the funding means at least 79 people would be housed here,” Monjia Belizaire, a project manager of First Community Housing, told San José Spotlight. “We’d love to start construction in June.”
The nine-story complex, called Roosevelt Park Apartments, will feature apartments for low-income residents—40 of which will be for unhoused individuals and families. The remaining 39 apartments will be designated for youth out of foster care, families at risk of becoming homeless and people with developmental disabilities. A number of residences will be permanent supportive housing. The building’s top floor will also serve as First Community Housing’s new office space, per a city memo.
The project is expected to finish within 24 months from the start date, according to First Community Housing. The organization is a low-income developer behind several housing projects in San Jose, including the 179-unit Curtner Studios at 701 Curtner Ave., 100-unit Fourth Street Apartments and 135-unit Second Street Studios in downtown.
The development, located at 21 N. 21st St., will be steps from resources such as the Roosevelt Community Center, San Jose High School and the South Bay Sports Training & Batting Cages. It will also be roughly a half-mile from the planned 28th Street/Little Portugal BART station.
“I’m excited that after three years of diligent work by our staff, we can finally move forward to provide more affordable housing options for our unhoused individuals and families, foster youth and those with developmental disabilities,” Councilmember Raul Peralez, who represents the area where the project is located, told San José Spotlight before the vote. “I hope to see more of this type of investment from our state partners as we look to address housing needs across our city.”
Roughly $4 million from state grants would also go toward design and construction of several transportation improvements within a one-mile radius of the project, including more bike lanes, accessible walkways, enhanced crosswalks and two electric buses for VTA that will serve route 77.
First Community Housing already received a $9 million loan from the city in 2019. But with the years-long delay, construction costs have since ballooned 23%, the organization estimates. The additional $1.8 million city loan would help close the financial gap. First Community Housing also received a $1 million loan from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program to cover the increased cost.
“This provides the Roosevelt Park Apartments with the funds necessary to create 79 new affordable apartments and improvements,” city officials said in a memo. “These improvements not only provide desperately needed affordable housing, but also provide benefits to the surrounding neighborhood.”
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.
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