Facebook, Destination: Home partner on new fund for extremely low-income housing
An aerial view of downtown San Jose is seen in this file photo.

An affordable housing complex with 123 units in downtown San Jose is one of the first projects to be funded by a new Community Housing Fund announced Wednesday morning.

The fund was launched using $150 million of a $1 billion commitment from Facebook to affordable housing, in addition to $5 million from local nonprofit Destination: Home.

The $150 million fund will help build at least 2,000 units of affordable housing for households earning less than 30% of the region’s median income, or about $47,000 for a family of four in San Jose. The fund is considered the largest private fund in California dedicated to creating extremely low-income housing.

“This new fund aligns perfectly with San Jose’s own affordable housing priorities and will channel sorely-needed private dollars towards building more (extremely low-income) housing,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in a statement.

The $1 billion commitment from Facebook, first announced in Oct. 2019, includes $25 million to build teacher and essential worker housing on public land for school districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

Sen. Dave Cortese, who championed 2016’s Measure A, a $950 affordable housing bond, said at least $50 million from the fund will go toward the county’s housing projects. The measure is expected to create 4,800 affordable housing units countywide, he said.

“Four years after voters overwhelmingly passed Measure A, Santa Clara County has seen 27 housing projects approved or opened with many more in the pipeline,” Cortese said. “The need for continued investment in housing and services for our unhoused has only intensified during this pandemic. This fund will go a long way to addressing homelessness during the age of COVID-19.”

The fund will be managed by the Local Initiative Support Corporation, a nonprofit community development financial institution.

A rendering of the Lighthouse at Grace project in downtown San Jose.

The San Jose housing project supported by the fund, called Lighthouse at Grace, will take over the old Sigma Nu Fraternity House on South 11th Street.

The project calls for six stories of affordable housing with parking at the ground level and residential units on the upper floors. Common areas will include a centralized laundry facility, community rooms and lounge areas, a large outdoor community courtyard, bike parking, community gardens and a computer lab.

According to First Community Housing officials, the development consists of 101 studios and 20 one-bedrooms that will serve households earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income.

The $1 billion pledge from Facebook is one in a string of commitments from tech companies to alleviate the region’s crippling housing crisis.

Apple in Nov. 2019 said it will contribute $2.5 billion in value to creating affordable homes and helping vulnerable communities in Silicon Valley. Google was the first to announce it’s $1 billion contribution that would include $750 million in land value and $250 million in grants and other investments.

According to Destination: Home, extremely low-income families face the most severe impacts of the housing crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. These families are disproportionately people of color.

“The shortage of extremely low-income housing is higher than for any other income group in the San Jose metro area, with just 34 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income households,” the group said.

“For far too long, we’ve neglected the housing needs of our lowest-income and most vulnerable families,” said Santa Clara County Board President Cindy Chavez in a statement. “But by prioritizing the development of more extremely low income housing – first, through our Measure A housing bond, and now, with the Community Housing Fund – we are taking important steps to addressing our community’s growing inequities.”

Editor’s note: Destination: Home Executive Director Jennifer Loving and Working Partnerships USA Executive Director Derecka Mehrens serve on San José Spotlight’s Board of Directors

 

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