We can solve homelessness in San Jose. We have effective, proven solutions but continue to lack the resources needed to scale them to meet the enormous need in our community. But, the good news is that on Tuesday, March 3, San Jose voters can help achieve this goal by voting in support of Measure E.
Measure E will provide critical funding to address our homelessness crisis and make San Jose more affordable for the families who struggle most. The measure will generate tens-of-millions of dollars annually to build more affordable housing for our lowest-income residents, expand homelessness prevention programs and fund other critical housing strategies.
Measure E would raise these revenues by increasing the city’s transfer tax only on properties worth more than $2 million — and only when they are sold — limiting the impact to 2% of all property owners in our city and ensuring that almost all of the revenue generated will come from developers and large companies. And even then San Jose will still have the lowest transfer taxes of any major Bay Area city. The measure simply asks those who have benefited most from the economic recovery over the past decade and received significant federal tax cuts to do their fair share.
This is a common-sense approach for addressing our homelessness and housing crisis, which is why Destination: Home, has joined a broad coalition of community groups in endorsing Measure E.
Unfortunately, we’ve heard critics of Measure E raise the usual tired arguments, stating concerns that funds will be misspent and that we should focus on reducing bureaucratic barriers. But consider this:
- The City Council has passed a spending plan that would allocate all of the funding toward affordable housing and homelessness — including significant funding for more affordable housing for residents across multiple income levels. So, we can feel confident that the money will immediately start flowing to our most pressing priority.
- Future changes to the spending plan would require 60-days’ notice for a public hearing and a 2/3 council vote. A Citizens Oversight committee will also be formed to review the use of transfer tax revenues.
- The city is currently pursuing a number of strategies to speed up housing development — but this alone cannot solve our housing and homelessness crisis. In this economic climate, the private market will not ever produce deeply affordable housing on its own (ask yourself, can you could afford an apartment in the new market rate developments being built downtown?)
- Even with the state and private resources available, the only way we’ll be able to meet the city’s goal to build 10,000 new affordable homes is to raise more local sources of revenue.
From single parents unable to keep up with double-digit rent increases to individuals fleeing abusive relationships without anywhere else to go, the growing number of our neighbors being forced to live outside is staggering. In fact, on any given night, more than 6,000 individuals are experiencing homelessness in San Jose — a staggering 40% increase from just two years ago.
We’re daily facing a completely avoidable human tragedy in our community — one that’s pushing more of our neighbors onto the streets, that is disproportionately affecting families of color, forcing friends and family members out of our community and eroding our community’s quality of life. Homelessness is our valley’s humanitarian crisis and we should be doing everything we can to solve it.
Together, we can take an important step toward solving our housing crisis by passing Measure E.
Jennifer Loving is Chief Executive Officer of Destination: Home, a public-private partnership dedicated to ending homelessness in Santa Clara County. She also serves on San José Spotlight’s Board of Directors.