Amid growing outcry, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in 2017 announced an ambitious goal to build 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2022. The mayor’s response to the housing affordability crisis that has pushed thousands of people into the streets of Silicon Valley, one of the world’s most affluent and wealthy regions, will likely define Liccardo’s legacy.
While leaders say progress has been made, a data analysis by San José Spotlight found the city is severely behind in reaching Liccardo’s housing goals. According to city records, only 245 of those 10,000 units have actually been built since Liccardo’s announcement. And the clock is ticking.
When we include the affordable housing units across San Jose that are under construction, approved and in predevelopment, that number rises to 1,640 of 10,000 — leaving 8,360 units to be built.
Our research found contradictory or changing information in San Jose city records, in part, because cost and unit estimates for individual developments may change over time. In some cases, developments were miscategorized by city documents. For example, the Vermont House and Plaza Hotel developments were counted toward the 10,000 unit goal for completed new units in a recent production report, but they were existing units that were rehabilitated — not new ones.
Jeff Scott, a spokesman for the San Jose Housing Department, said a new production report is expected soon.
Tracking San Jose’s progress with affordable housing
We created this interactive map to track San Jose’s progress toward Liccardo’s goal to construct 10,000 new affordable units by 2022. Click each marker for details on the status of the development, the number of affordable units, the city’s investment and links to the most recent San José Spotlight stories about those developments.
To qualify for affordable housing, prospective tenants must fall within certain income limits. These limits are calculated based on the average median income (AMI) of an area by family size, meaning an area with generally higher income levels will have correspondingly higher AMI levels.
These limits are captured in three categories: low, very low, and extremely low income. ‘‘Low income” refers to households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI, “very low income” refers to households earning up to 50 percent and “extremely low income” refers to households earning 30 percent.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara Metro Area Median Family Income is $131,400. As a result, a family of four earning $103,900 or less falls within the “low income” limits.
San Jose’s housing crisis is undoubtedly severe. The average monthly rent in San Jose is $2,792. Nationally, the average rent is $1,466. And, according to the 2019 Santa Clara County Homeless Point-in-Time Count, San Jose accounts for 6,172 homeless residents, a 42 percent increase since 2017.
Despite that, a measure to create a $450 million affordable housing bond narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to pass in Nov. 2018. Voters did, however, in 2016 approve Measure A, the $950 million affordable housing bond, which has resulted in several new developments getting off the ground.
Earlier this year, the San Jose City Council voted to allocate $100 million to affordable housing developments to fund at least 11 projects, which are aiming to create more than 1,100 new affordable units.
Contact San José Spotlight intern Koji Flynn-Do at firstname.lastname@example.org.