Santa Clara Co. supervisors approve low-income housing projects

Late Tuesday afternoon, Santa Clara County supervisors debated the passage of a funding for the construction of low income and supportive housing. The lengthy debate was worth the price, according to housing advocates. As vetting of the last item wound to a close, supervisors voted unanimously to approve nine projects that will provide more rental housing units for residents.

“People’s income has not been rising as fast as rent and the cost of buying a place. So affordable housing is an important part to keep people here,” said Gabrielle Antolovich, board chairwoman of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center in San Jose.

County voters passed the near $1B bond Measure A in 2016. Since then, the county has used that money for 13 projects. Tuesday’s vote allocates another $123M to build more than 620 new units of housing, and rehabilitate another 400 units.

“It will bring us to an investment of almost 15-hundred homes. What’s amazing about that, is we’re far ahead where anybody thought we would be,” said district 2 supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The county’s director of supportive housing says Santa Clara could be as much as 30-percent closer to the completion of its 10-year housing plan.

“A significant number of these units are set aside for people who have the lowest incomes in our community. Including people who are disabled, working on the street, or homeless,” said Ky Le

Since 2015, Santa Clara County has built 1,537 units of housing, spread over six cities. However, a 2017 survey finds the County has nearly 7,400 homeless residents, up 13% from 2015. Social advocacy groups and residents implored supervisors to pass the measure, saying creation of more housing will lead to greater stability across all socio-economic groups.

“As the current housing crisis worsens, older  adults are finding it increasingly difficult to find a place to live with their limited retirement income,” retiree Brian O’Neil told the board during the public comment section of the meeting.

New homebuyers are also a concern for supervisors. Twenty million dollars has been set aside as down payment assistance. While this all sounds good, don’t look for housing to sprout overnight. While the money is approved, officials estimate it’ll take six months before the first shovel hits the ground, and two year after that before units are ready for move-in.