State leaders meet with religious community to address Santa Clara County housing crisis

Faith-based organization People Acting in Community Together (PACT) held a meeting Sunday in San Jose with state lawmakers and demanded that the legislators pass bills that help address housing affordability in Santa Clara County.

PACT said it wants to see Senate Bill 567, legislation that would create statewide tenant protections, passed and wants state representatives for the area to push it, and other housing measures, through. 

Dozens of people gathered at St. John Vianney Catholic Church to talk about how much they're struggling to survive, struggling to pay rent and to partner with local leaders to do something about it. 

"Having to deal with COVID, the loss of my mother, and all the emotional challenges, I was also worried about paying for rent," said Aurora Solis, a PACT Leader and community activist.   

Other PACT members also spoke out.

"Because housing is a major issue, it has to get through legislation. It has to get through to the lawmakers that this is very important. So when you gather a number of people here, they can see that it’s not one person speaking, we’re speaking for everyone," said Diana Wilkerson-Graham, PACT Leader & Board Member.

"When people want to go rent an apartment, it’s only going to cost you a couple of thousand dollars. By the time you’re through, you need to have $10,000 dollars because they want first, they want last, they want security," Wilkerson-Graham added.

Both state Sen. Dave Cortese and Assemblymember Ash Kalra attended the meeting listening to people talk about the challenges they face as rents continue to rise. 

"We need to treat the housing shortage like the crisis it is, and quickly secure housing for the unhoused and anyone who is housing-insecure," Cortese said in a statement after the meeting. The state Senator added that he has proposed a number of bills seeking to address housing affordability and low-income residents.

"I applaud PACT for raising awareness about these crucial issues," Cortese said. 

Earlier this month Zillow reported median rent in San Jose at $3,400, making it more expensive than San Francisco and Los Angeles.