Staedler: Housing is a human right and others need to step up like Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County has selected Mercy Housing Management Group for a teacher housing project that will serve five North County school districts in Palo Alto.

The 60 to 120-unit project at 231 Grant Avenue will be constructed on county property, and the county has continued to show leadership in developing affordable and teacher housing. While we hear a lot of rhetoric from NIMBYs about why it’s not fair to develop affordable housing in their neighborhood, it’s great to see the county step up by putting housing on its own property. It’s not stopping there; the county will now consider five new sites on county property as suggested by Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Here are the sites county leaders unanimously voted to study:

  • East Santa Clara Street site, former San Jose Hospital site
  • Valley Health Center, Gilroy
  • Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy
  • De Paul Health Center in Morgan Hill
  • The Hub, San Jose (Parkmoor and Meridian)

While cities around the Bay Area fail to live up to their Regional Housing Needs Allocation, the county has been steadfast in its unwavering commitment to make affordable housing happen. It’s easy to get frustrated by the lack of progress made housing our low-income and homeless population, but we need to acknowledge when we make strides in this development as a community.

I’m not saying the county will single-handedly solve this problem, but it has shown leadership and demonstrated that the world will not end for the neighborhoods with these types of project. After the construction of the Japantown Senior Apartments, I’ve not heard people say this part of San Jose is no longer desirable to live in. That happens when you have a responsible developer along with proper management of the site.

When you hear the outcry and ridiculous “sky is falling” concerns related to a potential teacher housing project at Leland High School and Bret Harte Middle School, it sounds like officials are suggesting building a wastewater treatment center in the middle of their neighborhood. The most common ridiculous comment is that the neighborhood believes the project “will cause their home values to plummet” and that “there has to be a better solution or a better location to do this.”

That mindset is one of the causes of the housing tragedy playing out throughout the Bay Area. The fact that these neighborhoods don’t think that the teachers and district employees who educate their children are good enough to live in their neighborhoods is mind-boggling. How can that type of thinking be tolerated in such a highly educated part of the world? The teachers and district staff should be shown the utmost respect for what they do for the world.

Housing is a human right and needs to be treated as such. The county needs to be applauded for understanding that. All of the cities in Santa Clara County need to put bond measures on the ballot in 2020 for affordable housing. The counterargument that this region is overtaxed is understandable, but the cost of not working toward solving this problem is costing people’s lives.

That is not acceptable and we need every city in the county to continue the good fight that Santa Clara County has led.

San José Spotlight columnist Bob Staedler is a principal at Silicon Valley Synergy, a San Jose-based land use and development consulting firm. His columns appear every first Monday of the month. Contact Bob at bob@svsynergy.com or follow @BobStaedler on Twitter.

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