Santa Clara County lawmakers to approve $137.4M for affordable housing
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is pictured in this file photo.

    The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is expected to approve $137.4 million in funding for seven new supportive and affordable housing developments, Supervisor Cindy Chavez announced during a news conference Monday.

    That means another 865 units added to the affordable housing market, which could shelter up to 2,059 of the county’s most vulnerable people. Chavez said the county’s goal is to build 4,800 total units with Measure A funds.

    “This is the fifth wave of our Measure A money that the voters in Santa Clara County put forward to be able to house people who are homeless, low income…victims of domestic violence, or who have mental health issues,” Chavez said, “so it’s actually a very exciting day tomorrow.”

    The total cost for the seven developments is $155.9 million with $137.4 million coming from Measure A funds and $18.5 million coming from the No Place Like Home fund.

    Amid rising concern over the county’s homelessness and affordable housing crises, Chavez helped draft Measure A, the county’s $950 million affordable housing bond approved by voters in 2016.

    County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who co-chaired the Measure A campaign, said he’s looking forward to approving the fifth round of funding.

    “It’s extremely important this item passes,” Cortese said. “I hope it’s a unanimous vote by the board. It’s important we stay on pace… getting these units up and ready.”

    Although Cortese doesn’t expect the other supervisors to vote against the funding plan, he said they might ask about how the housing units will target specific groups of residents in need of help. For instance, in the past, an inquiry was made regarding people with special needs, which resulted in a parallel $40 million fund.

    The county has set aside $700 million for extremely low-income housing, $100 million for very low-income housing, and $100 million for low income housing.

    “We have an economy that is punishing right now and… causing scores of people to become homeless,” Chavez said. “We all know people who are one paycheck away from having unstable housing. This is an opportunity for us to really wrap our arms around the highest-need people in our community.”

    Chavez added that the goal is to reach residents within a variety of income brackets, including first-time home buyers with area median incomes of $138,000 to $150,000 for a family of four.

    The county is ahead of schedule in approving Measure A funding for housing projects and forging partnerships with developers and organizations to get them built, Chavez said. But, the supervisor added, she’s never satisfied that the process is moving fast enough, and vowed to keep pushing to have as many units built as quickly as possible.

    She also wants to ensure the bond money is spent in cities other than San Jose and will suggest the board provide incentives to cities for prioritizing these types of housing projects.

    The fifth wave of developments are planned for downtown San Jose, West San Jose, Mountain View and Santa Clara. The new apartments include permanent supportive housing units for individuals and families with special needs, apartments for extremely-low, very-low, and low-income households, as well as middle-income households and resident managers.

    Graph courtesy of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

    Although it isn’t part of Measure A’s latest round of funding, additional resources are being put toward housing for the homeless. Renascent Place, the largest complex for formerly homeless people is under construction on Senter Road, near Tully Road and social services.

    “It’s important because we have homeless people dying on our streets,” Chavez said.

    Cortese would also like to see a transitional housing fund created for the short-term needs of the homeless population as Measure A money can only be used for the acquisition and development of permanent housing.

    “It’s ill-advised to take homeless people from creek to condo,” he said. “There needs to be short-term housing (like tiny homes) with county services to stabilize these folks. We need those exponentially.”

    The Board of Supervisors meets 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the county government center, 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose.

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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