Santa Clara residents miss opportunity to make home upgrades
An aerial image of a part of the city of Santa Clara. Photograph by The 111th Group

    Even though Santa Clara had more than $1 million available for residents to upgrade their homes, only a small number of homeowners took advantage of the opportunity. Now Santa Clara is putting those dollars to other uses.

    The city planned to spend about $1.2 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on the city’s home rehabilitation program. However, the city only loaned out $150,000 to residents who applied. Santa Clara expected to fund 45 homes under its Neighborhood Conservation and Improvement Program, but only ended up funding 14.

    The remaining roughly $1 million will be reapplied toward other projects. Public service activities will receive $232,000. Public facilities will receive $642,000 and $236,000 will be distributed for planning and administration, according to the city’s revised budget documents.

    “There was not as much interest in the last couple of years, so we have to move the money,” Andrew Crabtree, community development director, told San José Spotlight, referring to the lack of residents applying to the rehabilitation program.

    The city plans to release a notice of funding availability to nonprofits for the unused portion. How these funds will be distributed is still being worked out. The monies can be used to make buildings more accessible to people with disabilities or improve affordable housing properties, Crabtree said.

    Even though these home rehabilitation dollars are no longer available, the program will still be available to residents in the upcoming year. Earlier this week, councilmembers approved plans to offer $95,750 in new loans for fiscal year 2022-23.

    For residents who qualify, the rehabilitation program offers a 20-year low interest-rate loan with flexible terms based on income. The funds can be applied to rehabilitate homes, fix health and safety problems and make changes in order to comply with current building codes. Residents also can apply those funds to make homes more accessible for people with disabilities.

    The program provides technical and financial support to low-income households, or those that meet no more than 80% of the area median income. In Santa Clara County that’s a single-person household earning no more than $82,450 annually and a four-person household earning no more than $117,750.

    While Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, declined to comment on the specifics of the city’s plans for spending its federal housing funds, he said the Santa Clara City Council has a bad reputation when it comes to using available funds to house people in need.

    Last November, the City Council rejected a proposal to build 60 units of transitional housing at 2035 White Oak Lane. In a contentious meeting with residents, councilmembers rejected a proposal from LifeMoves, a nonprofit homeless services provider. LifeMoves had hoped to fund the housing through Project Homekey, a state program aimed at providing funding to house homeless individuals.

    “The City Council had a plan that would have gotten some of these unhoused people into houses and they rejected it,” Perry said.

    Contact Kate Bradshaw at [email protected] or @bradshk14 on Twitter.

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