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Silicon Valley officials want to build more homeless housing – San José Spotlight

Several affordable housing projects are coming to Santa Clara County as officials race to build more homes to address growing homelessness.
The Board of Supervisors approved $75.5 million on Tuesday to build six new affordable housing projects—four in San Jose, one in Mountain View and one in Sunnyvale—adding 758 apartments to the South Bay’s housing inventory.
“Santa Clara County has a goal to achieve a ‘functional zero’ in five years, meaning the number of housing placements for families in the county is greater than the number of families entering homelessness,” Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a statement. Chavez noted over 600 families a year become homeless in the county.
Several housing advocates applauded supervisors for supporting the projects.
“We strongly believe funding more supportive and affordable homes is the best way to end and prevent homelessness in our community,” said Alan Gouig, policy and advocacy associate with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits.
Santa Clara County has seen its homelessness crisis explode the last few years, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more families and residents out into the streets. As COVID engulfed the area, homeless encampments across the county dramatically grew in size and visibility. Sweeps in some cities displaced unhoused individuals, and advocates logged 250 people who died on the streets last year.
A 2019 survey shows the number of unhoused people in Santa Clara County reached a record high of more than 9,700 people that year. It’s unclear how many are currently living on the streets because the county canceled its biennial count due to the pandemic, but advocates say the issue has only gotten worse. The county is scheduled to conduct a new count later this month.
“Right now I have a client who is unhoused—I can’t say to her we have housing available,” said Angela Rausch, a board member for the advocacy group Livable Sunnyvale. “Housing is scarce, we need more housing.”
The county is planning to build a 365-unit affordable development at McEvoy and Dupont streets, a 103-unit affordable senior apartment complex on North 15th Street and a 116-unit affordable family development on Grand Avenue and Race Street—all in San Jose. It also plans to convert the Residence Inn on San Ignacio Avenue into 102 affordable and supportive housing units.
The plan also calls for building a 93-unit affordable development on West Weddell Drive in Sunnyvale and turning a lot in Mountain View into a 120-apartment family complex.
On top of all that, supervisors approved $2 million for an expansion of a motel shelter program run by Amigos de Guadalupe to add 45 more beds for families in crisis. The nonprofit currently operates Santa Clara County’s tiny home site near the old City Hall in San Jose, which hosts 25 families.
“This (program) helps families build a sense of community and empowerment,” said Maritza Maldonado, executive director of Amigos de Guadalupe. “This process will lead them from hopelessness to self sufficiency and connections with the greater community.”
County supervisors have raced to build more housing, especially with the unprecedented amount of money coming from Measure A, a $950 million housing bond approved by voters in 2016, as well as federal and state funds. According to the county, Santa Clara has funded 3,684 affordable units through Measure A—830 of them are in operation and serving more than 1,600 people.
The funding for the new developments is mostly coming from Measure A. The county will also pool money from sources such as No Place Like Home and the Affordable Housing for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled funds to pay for the projects.
More than half of the new housing, or 497 units, will serve those who earn less than 80% of the area median income—below $117,750 for a Santa Clara County household of four, according to the county. More than 100 apartments will be used as permanent supportive housing, and another 122 units will serve as temporary housing, according to the proposal.
Cindy Nguyen, a mother of three who’s staying at the tiny home site Casitas de Esperanza at the Civic Center, said such a project is a lifesaver for her family. Since moving into the site, Nguyen has found a new job, gotten her sons back to school and submitted an application for an apartment.
“Casitas has been helping me, providing tutoring after school for my boys and much more support,” she said. “I feel like we’re a family here, and we feel safe here.”
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter. Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.
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So somehow units for families cost $100k each and housing first studios cost $750k.
Something doesn’t add up.
Must be some sort of LIHTC project.
Smart people Amy clue?
If you can’t afford to live here then MOVE.
The issue with supportive housubg is the current algorhythm that leaves long term homeless on the street and houses those with criminal justice and substance abuse issues exclusively
Therefore in essence someone who had somehow managed to find a job while homeless is not given a hotel room for even avfew nights. Meanwhile someone who is actively involved in their substance abuse disorder is given one. indefinitely with no strings attached. The logic being that the County focuses on those with the most severe problems because they are unlikely to get housing on their own
Meanwhile those barely making it in their jobs are left with no resources at all because they simply do not qualify.
That system which is immutable theb leaves out seniors struggling to get by on fixed incomes, immigrants barely getting by as well ad students and those exiting foster care.
Do we see any poor Vietnamese people tripled up in family units jn supportive housing? They don’t qualify because the algorhythm is sacred and untouchable.
Then in the existing supportuve housung where in essence someone had to have a substance abuse disorder to qualify, there are little if any support services to speak of. What a strange formula to come up with.
So the question is what are you getting people off the street for: exactly.?
If you read the story, the very last part speaks about a woman being helped, housed, and positively affected. Her sir name is Nguyen. The homeless in San Jose has affected many different races.
Town Charts website states the known units in Santa Clara county is only 672,495 total housing units,, Owned/Rented. If you have 2,000,000 here than there is an average of 3 people per unit. Thus if San Santa Clara were to build the total allocation of the county (chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html? that comes to 129,542 units which is a shortage of 19%, then conservatively for every 1% increase in supply you will see a 2% decrease in rents/mortgages. Thus, there would be a drop of 38% values of the existing housing when there is the TOTAL needs provided, which actually includes MODERATE and ABOVE MODERATE housing needs. So just targeting VERY LOW INCOME and LOW INCOME people is not even scratching the surface. What is happening here is SUPPLY SIDE ECONOMICS forcing a housing shortage in the county FOR ALL UNIT TYPES!!
Except that housing doesn’t follow the “law of supply and demand.” In fact it’s the opposite. The more housing you build, the more it drives demand, increasing prices. You have to address the demand side of the equation if you want prices to fall.
The pandemic, with the accompanying exodus of renters from the area, and the fall in rents as a result, is a prime example of how falling demand causes rents to fall.
Unfortunately, even with lower rents, there’s still a big affordability gap. Rent going from $3000 per month to $2600 per month is not going to help a very low income family that can only afford $1500 per month rent. A tech worker, buying a house in Tracy or Lathrop, doesn’t cause rents to fall enough for a low-income family to afford their former apartment.
Government subsidized, below-market-rate housing, is the only solution to address the housing insecurity issue. None of the ridiculous housing laws passed by the State Legislature will have much, if any, effect, on creating affordable housing. A homeowner spending $350,000 to build an ADU would have to charge $3000 per month to break even after 20 years. A lot split would create two $2 million houses where one $2 million house stood before.
Obviously something it this story doesn’t make sense. The County can’t build 758 actual apartments, in six projects, for $75.5 million. Either these are all tiny homes built by volunteers, or there is a lot more money coming from other sources.
What do we do to address the time between now and these hundreds of units (thousands unsheltered) being built? This is good news and we need to build more housing, but there is clearly a massive crisis on the streets now that seems to go unacknowledged.
Project Room Key and Project Home Key were good programs to quickly get people off the street. These can be continued and expanded once hotel owners, and political leaders, concede that the pandemic has brought about permanent changes in business travel and that there is a very big surplus of hotel rooms.
There’s still a false belief, by some, that post-pandemic business travel will return to previous levels and that empty hotels and motels will once again be full of business travelers paying exorbitant nightly rates and generating huge amounts of hotel tax. The failure of the Fairmont, and the tens of millions of dollars being spent on renovations prior to its reopening, display an unrealistic optimism.
All the experts agree that business travel in the U.S., and the world, will never recover to pre-pandemic levels because so much of that expensive travel was unnecessary. The reality is that there are way too many hotels, both in San Jose and surrounding Silicon Valley cities, and many will have to close (many new hotels, already approved, are not moving forward with construction). Tourist travel will eventually recover, but not many tourists want to visit San Jose, Milpitas, or Cupertino.
Buying failed hotels, and converting them to permanent housing, is a fast way to add supportive housing but until the property owners have a realistic view of the value of their properties, that can’t happen. The old Fairmont hotel would have been ideal for a supportive housing project, but the owner, and City leaders, would never admit that business travel to San Jose is not going to recover to levels that can support so many high-end hotels in the downtown area.
Homekey still isn’t very fast (but is a good program for longer term goals), especially if you’re acquiring and rehabilitating the units. It’s another medium to long-term solution that doesn’t help the thousands suffering on the streets today, or even by this time next year. That is the County’s issue, and Cities – they went ALL in on development via Measure A while woefully under-resourcing interim measures like shelters. It is a darn shame.
Mr. Herbst’s points regarding the future of hotels and motels are on target. In fact, pandemic-era lockdowns have supercharged the preexisting and growing use of internet-based telecommuting and communications by businesses, not to mention digital commerce combined with home delivery. These trends have not only reduced the need for business travel and accommodations, but have also muted the need for existing and future brick-and-mortar workplaces and retail commercial sites. There should be significant opportunities for the public sector to acquire relatively low cost properties and land that can be quickly converted into supportive housing and, in the medium run, into permanent affordable housing.
Mr. Herbst’s point about the Fairmont Hotel is also relevant. I’ve argued that, at a minimum, the City should immediately claim–whether to recover the costs it has borne or through eminent domain–its rightful share of space in that property and use it for temporary supportive and/or permanent affordable housing. I have done a bit of research on that property in particular that is available here:
The pandemic-era experience with Project Homekey has shown, as Mr. Herbst notes, that state and county governments can produce housing units (in this case in multi-unit structures) for under $200,000 per door and can do so in a relatively short period of time ( In the longer term, the example of San Jose State University, and university campuses in general, are exemplars of how the public sector can plan, produce and maintain high quality multi-unit housing structures well below market rates (
The Race & Grand project (site of former Race Street Fish market) has been in the works for year and just now completed demolition of existing structures. Its fake news that this is some sort of “new” proposal by Chavez. Not sure about the others, but this sure sounds like a fluff piece to make Chavez look good.
Also, what’s the cost/unit and where is the total funding coming from.
Come on Spotlight, you gotta do more…
“affordable housing” doesn’t solve homelessness for those (most homeless) if their income is zero due to being high/drunk and/or mentally ill the whole time, let alone having a ‘low income” job
homelessness is an industry
$700K+ Studios
Overdose prevention clinics
NGOs CEOs, COOs, CIOs, Art Directors, SVP of Outreach, etc etc etc
Social Worker “Managers of Managers”
Compliance Consultants
Overmarket rate prices for derelict hotels and motels
there aint been a fatten pig boondoggle like this since the Afghan War
the more homeless the better!
Let us not kid ourselves-The homeless issues is not about more housing. Most of those on the streets cant maintain housing and pay rents, bills etc due to chronic issues like substance abuse, mental health etc..Many recently released from prison. But we do have to address housing costs for moderate income those working hard so that they can raise resilient healthy kids in healthy communities with good schools which in turn will decrease homelessness in future generations. Lets have shelters, strongly enforce loitering, and dumping laws to decrease the urban blight and ill effects these things are having on our society and provide a place they can go to to to lay their heads- Provide more affordable housing in apt complexes, increase section 8 for low income families etc… and down payment assistance for those that can pay their mortgages but haven’t been able to save for $300,000 down payments.
The County should be commended for finding a way to build 758 subsidized housing units for $75.5 million.
That’s a little under $100,000 each. Other affordable housing projects have per-unit costs of five to eight times as much. The County needs to share their secret formula.
Something doesn’t add up?
That leaves only 19,300 plus units to go just for the homeless. That means an additional 15.5 billion dollars…..
And they won’t disclose any estimates on how many current San Jose residents (non-homeless) will be eligible for affordable housing…..
Anybody check the math on this!?! (Anybody stay awake in math class?). Would you spend your personal money in this fashion? – hell no. But the county has issue spending our tax dollars recklessly overpaying excessively for products and services (lining pockets of friends and family and supporters)
To the contrary. 758 apartments for $75.5 million is a heck of a deal. That’s less than $100 thousand each.
Other affordable housing projects are costing five to seven times as much. How is the County able to build these units so cheaply?
because they don’t cost 100K, this is an obfuscation by Cindy! and the author
these are being funded elsewhere and you are seeing accounting voodoo
So much hate towards those who have so little,. From Wealthy Transplants with so much.
the question isn’t hate toward anyone
the question is how effectively these dollars are being used and what is the cost structure going forward
if $1B houses 5000 people and it could have housed 15000 or more, should we not use critical thinking
if the overhead on this is $3000+ per month per occupant, how long will that funding last, where will those dollars come from, and what doesn’t get paid in place – pension guarantees, parks, libraries, public safety?
the decision to help these people was made 5+ years ago – the public is generous; the authorities are disingenuous and incompetent
The anger (hate is pretty harsh) is towards our elected officials and unelected bureaucrats who are literally wasting billions of OUR money, confiscated through excessive taxation, in the name of ‘homelessness’ and ‘affordable housing’
They are not producing results in line with the spend and are not held accountable. In the mean time, real people suffering in the streets in need of help are not getting it.
Produce results or resign/get fired!
Who is going to benefit from this “new” housing project? How much did the county spend for the first survey? The County now wants to spend 75.5M for 758 apartments. Do the math.
There are countless social service and homeless agencies. What have they done to address the homeless issue? Nothing.
As tax payers, we need to take a closer look at what is being said and who continues to invest in money making projects that continue to the ongoing homeless issues.
Where is the community input for these projects? As a member of Cassell Community, I have repeatedly stated, we do not need more surveys, we need action. Talk is cheap.
Where are all the Advocates? Where are all the Activists? Where are all the Caring Politicians and Bureaucrats?
Don’t they have a spare Bedroom or even a spare House or Apt – we know Nancy Pelosi does, and so does the Santa Clara City Manager.
C’mon San Jose Activists & Advocates –
– Put your Virtue Signaling where you want to put Our Tax Dollars!
—– “Homelessness in the SF Bay Area is now so bad Residents are being Asked to House a Homeless Person in their OWN HOMES: ” (Feb 9th DM) ——–
– Charities are urging local families to take homeless people into their very homes, in their spare rooms, with little to no compensation.
– Mayor of Richmond, a city 20 miles from San Francisco, has set up a program to match homeless people with local landlords who have empty apartments.
– It will pay the landlords a year’s rent up front to encourage them to forgo the usual credit, employment and background checks for tenants.
– Asked whether people expressed concern about welcoming homeless people into their homes, he insisted that people care about the plight of the homeless.
“They are more concerned with the homeless camps,’
he said. ‘People want to see solutions, and want to be part of the solution’”
In a recent report ( the progress regarding older numbers were in the county we provided only 16.9% of the MODERATE housing need, which meant that we had a 83.1% SHORTAGE, thus that likely if you take the shortage and allocate 2% cost for every 1 % lack of supply, you can see an inflation of housing costs reaching 166% of the REAL value because of SUPPLY SIDE DESIGNED SHORTAGES.
Regarding ABOVE MODERATE hosing need the county achieves 43.8% of the need leaving a shortage of 56.2% which likely causing inflated costs at 112%.
And just to add the other parts to complete it. The VERY LOW INCOME housing was achieving 24.9% meaning that the shortage is 75.1% thus likely causing those costs inflateion at 150%
And for LOW INCOME housing it was achieving 14.4% with a shortage of 85.6% likely resulting in cost inflation of 170% for housing costs.
COSTA HAWKINS was supposed to solve this problem, it was a FALSE NARRATIVE that resulted in NO PRODUCTIVITY. SUPPLY SIDE ECONOMICS IS A RIP OFF!!!
There are many economic reports showing graphically the so called Demand and Supply data and how it results in the Intersection that should produce the Demand Supply Equilibrium. But at this time the housing market in the country has completely lost it regarding NORMAL ECONOMICS.
That kind of normal makret analysis simply is gone, because most State Laws allow for appraisers to be protected from inflating values because they only offer an OPINION. And since also the appraisers admit they are not scientifically proving the values as well even recently. REAL MARKET ANALYSIS actually does not occur BECAUSE it would disclose the REal Estate SUPERBUBBLE we are now in.
Now granted there are mutliple factors regarding housing like location, quality, amenities, etc. But all things that balance out. Zillow provides a lot of data, and it was there that I saw the relationship after doing some analysis.
The simple truth is there is no efforts that will satisfy the PRIVATE housing market developers, you give them an inche, they wei DEMAND a foot. If you give them a fooot they will DAMND a yard. Constantly manipulating the market so that it can pad its profits!!!
Costa Hawkins and Ellis Acts are a COMPLETE FAILURE. THEY were FALSE PROMISES and legislators and the governor got scammed. In the 25 years of them the shortages metastesized to such a point now that the cancer is terminal. What is the cancer? the PRIVATE HOUSING INDUSTRY!!!
Obviously, these units don’t cost $100K each. It’s an open question, even after more numbers were thrown at this in the San Jose Inside article, is this money being spent effectively.
What you are getting is water hose data, but no clarity.
Q1: How much is the total cost of development for these units, who will own them, who will be liable for them, and where are the funds coming from? This article claims 3684 units will be funded by Measure A, but it is clear large chucks of these units have already been funded from other sources.
Q2: How many occupants per unit, so far, we are seeing an average of less than 2 occupants per unit. If the remaining balance are weighted toward PSH, that average will drift down. So as this number drifts down to about 7000 occupants across PSH, RRH, IDD, ELI, LI categories, are we really at functional zero?
Q3: How much is the ongoing opex per unit across physical management and operation (utilities, maintenance, etc.) and soft management (NGO overhead, social workers, etc.)
Q4: How much is the yearly interest on the financing? There is a Measure A Bond, while I am sure it will take some work to get to the bottom of the exact number, there certainly is other financing going on here as there are clearly other funding sources, you cannot build a unit for $100K in San Jose.
This article is propaganda dressed up as journalism and a stream of numbers is not even information let alone knowledge, understanding, or oversight.
Not Him,
Q1 The answer is if no one wants to build them in the PRIVATE HOUSING market, then shut down all incentives to build them , that is a waste of money, make the project ONLY PUBLIC.
Q2 The answer is, what is this relavant to, given that we have 120,000 units short in the region. And that the avereage occupancy in this region is 3 per unit based on 674,000 housing units and 1,900,000 people here.
Q3 The answer is if you do not know, or the developers do not know, then you can’t make any claims that this is an obstacle, it is just an excuse.
Q4 The answer again is the question is irrelevant.
stop wasting your precious few years left commenting on my comments
as I have told you, I do not read them, I do not read them, and I don’t care what you think
you need to get a job, meet your adult responsibilities, and start living
its big boy time, all your old rationalizations, excuses, and delf-delusions are over
There are plenty of places to do lower density affordable housing like the Evergreen Area and Coyote Valley. If you look hard enough, you can find areas which would benefit from a second look. Looks like downtown with its high density housing is having some problems with some recent developments going sideways. Possibly, more to come ? Maybe that will shake out, but at what price. There are areas which can be developed with the environment in mind, but still provide much needed housing . It is getting a bit boring by talking about the needed housing, but very little being done about it. Isn’t it time to do something about it ? Instead of just talk about it and paying for more studies which really do not accomplish anything…..Time goes by and the need just becomes greater as does the cost. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually start accomplishing something ? Wouldn’t it be nice to finally start to get people housed ?
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