Gov. Newsom holds housing round table in the South Bay

The affordable housing crisis continues to be front-and-center politically for elected leaders, including recently sworn-in Gov. Gavin Newsom – (D) Calif. Tuesday Newsom traveled from Sacramento to South San Jose to hear first-hand accounts of how the lack of affordable housing is impacting resident’s lives. Acting as if the campaign was still going strong, Newsom, and Mayor Sam Liccardo – (D) San Jose, attended an intimate roundtable housing discussion at the Seven Trees Library branch.

“There’s no sort of magic solution. We can’t solve this issue overnight,” said Newsom, sitting in a semi-circle with six other people.

A fast fix would benefit the people who joined the two politicians. From the student who will soon marry and hopes for a house instead of life with roommates.

“When we say our 'I dos,' are we gonna come back to roommates?" asked Shavell Crawford, a Lincoln Law School night student who shares an apartment with four other people.

Nuemi Guzman, a non-profit worker, fears she may soon leave the state so she doesn’t have to commute and miss time with her children.

“It’s just gotten harder and harder. My kids are growing up with their grandparents,” said Guzman, as she broke down in tears.

For small business owner Jenneke de Vries, the shrinking pie of affordable housing has led to a shortage of workers. The “help wanted” sign is always out at Pizza Bocca Lupo, which she co-owns with her husband, in San Pedro Square in Downtown San Jose.

“I compare the housing crisis to a pressure cooker. And the pressure is building,” said de Vries.

Governor Newsom says he’s asking the legislature for $1.75 billion to aid the construction of affordable housing across all income levels. And he’s linking state funding for housing to local transportation funding, as a type of carrot and stick approach to get local governments to do more.

“We can move toward pre-fab housing. Modular housing. New styles, new arrangements that could allow for, again, expeditiously moving construction forward, with prevailing wage, always,” said Newsom.

Many of the ideas outlined in the roundtable have already been implemented in San Jose. Mayor Liccardo touts current construction funding for 1,100 units of affordable housing, with another 900 by year’s end.

“That’s okay. But we know the need is so much greater, right?,” said Liccardo.

Addressing and satisfying housing demand that far outpaces supply, according to the governor, is the only way to keep long-time residents from leaving. And the only way to give would-be buyers a shot at the California dream..

“I’m hoping this is a great start to changing this housing crisis,” said Crawford.

The governor signed two executive orders today to help locate potential housing. One directs the state to inventory all state-owned property that could be made available to local municipalities for housing development.

The Department of General Services and the Housing and Community Development Department would put that list on-line by April 30. The second order overlays that map or list with RFPs – or companies interested in building --  by September 30 to fast-track the process.