FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2021
For More Information, Contact:
Kelsey Martinez Combellick
(408) 299-5050 office
(408) 299-1277 cell
AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT IN LOS ALTOS
SAN JOSE – Los Altos’ first all-affordable housing project took an important step forward today with the selection of a nonprofit development partner to work with Santa Clara County.
In a unanimous decision, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors chose EAH Housing for this role, which will involve finalizing the design and function of the structure and preparing the project to begin construction by the end of 2022. With assistance from the County’s Office of Supportive Housing, EAH Housing and the City of Los Altos will also work together to host a series of community outreach sessions over the next few months to get input from the public on various aspects of the project.
“This project provides a real opportunity to address the ongoing housing affordability crisis in our community,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who voted to approve the developer selection and whose district includes Los Altos. “But we won’t know how this project can best serve the community if we don’t hear directly from the community. That’s why I encourage local folks to come to these community meetings and share their thoughts so the final product really does reflect local sensibilities.”
County funding to support development of affordable housing comes from the County’s Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, a $950 million affordable housing bond measure approved by the voters in 2016. Simitian said he has, “been pushing for more of these dollars and affordable housing units to make their way to the North County and West Valley communities” he represents. “I’m pleased,” he said, “we’re now getting some real traction in those communities.”
The City of Los Altos and the County held several community listening sessions about the project earlier this year to understand the public’s vision for the project and hear concerns. Between April and July 2021, they will host an additional series of project workshops and community meetings to gather input from the public on the project’s design, architecture, and amenities.
Participants will have the opportunity to help name the building, as well to provide feedback on a number of different aspects of the project, including:
- Design features that would be visually appealing and help to connect the development to surrounding residential and commercial buildings;
- Green features and canopy preservation within the project design;
- Unmet local needs that could potentially be filled by the ground floor indoor and outdoor community spaces of the development;
- Other desired community services the development could help to provide; and
- Services that should be provided to residents of the development.
The Los Altos City Council is also scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the project in March 2022, where the public will have an additional opportunity to comment. Construction is tentatively slated to begin in December 2022.
"I’m excited that the City of Los Altos is partnering with the County on the City’s first 100% affordable housing development,” said Los Altos Mayor Neysa Fligor. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring much-needed affordable housing to our community, while helping the City meet its Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals. It also aligns with the City Council’s 2021 goal of supporting the creation of housing that is diverse, equitable and affordable for all income levels.”
Fligor added, “Community engagement in this process is important to ensure our residents’ ideas and concerns are captured in the design of this project, and that the final design reflects our community values and long-standing mission of fostering and maintaining Los Altos as a great place to live and raise a family. Thanks to all the residents who have participated in the community meetings held so far. I encourage all residents to continue to actively participate in the process, including attending the community engagement events and meetings."
“We are honored that the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors selected EAH Housing as the developer of the first all-affordable housing community in Los Altos,” said Laura Hall, president and chief executive officer at EAH housing. “Today marks an important milestone for the city and people of Los Altos as we begin the critical process of creating a quality, affordable housing community for the most vulnerable in our society – struggling families working multiple jobs, seniors on a fixed income, veterans, people with special needs and the formerly homeless.”
This project is one of a series of affordable housing developments currently being undertaken in Santa Clara County that aim to address the severe shortage of affordable housing in the region. The Mercury News reported just last month that there are only 29 homes available for every 100 extremely low-income residents in Santa Clara County.
Without sufficient housing at affordable prices, residents with the lowest incomes must devote an oversized portion of their paychecks to rent, leaving little for other expenses and little to fall back on should an unforeseen expense or sudden loss of income arise.
“There are many people who work in Los Altos, in our stores, schools, nonprofits, doctor's offices and other critical areas of the service sector, but who really struggle to afford living here or anywhere nearby,” said Tom Myers, Executive Director of Community Services Agency. “These are people who are vital to the functioning of our community, essential workers we have been calling our 'heroes' since the beginning of the pandemic, but who are increasingly priced out of the area by the high cost of housing.”
The proposed development in Los Altos aims to give these individuals the chance to obtain housing at below market rates. The project is expected to contain at least 90 units, which will be restricted to occupants earning 80% or less of the area medium income (AMI). The affordability restrictions will be further broken down as follows, subject to change depending on the requirements of available funding sources:
- A minimum of 5% earning 30% or less of the AMI;
- 50% earning 50% or less of the AMI and
- 45% earning 80% or less of the AMI.
The development site is located at 330 Distel Circle, which is currently home to the headquarters of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The organization’s offices will be relocated to a new space on El Camino Real in Los Altos by early 2022.
“This building served us well for 30 years as Midpen grew in capacity to serve our communities in protecting, restoring and connecting people to more than 65,000 acres of public open space,” Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District General Manager Ana Ruiz said. “We’re pleased to see that the property will be converted to providing affordable homes for our community residents.”
The 330 Distel Circle site joins another affordable housing development in progress at 525 East Charleston Road in Palo Alto, which also selected a development partner this week. The Charleston Road project, initially proposed by Simitian, aims to provide low-cost housing for extremely low and very low-income persons with developmental disabilities.
Interested residents can learn more about the Distel Circle project and access the schedule of public meetings at the project website included here: https://www.losaltosca.gov/communitydevelopment/page/330-distel-circle.