SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.--Responding to the urgent need for affordable housing and the lack of funding to build it, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, to place a $950 million Bond Measure on the November ballot to generate funds to build housing for homeless, low- and moderate-income residents and first time-homebuyers.
“This vote today is historic,” said Board President Dave Cortese, who cosponsored the proposal with Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “And the level of commitment is historic, both in the amount of the one-time financing we are proposing to help house our homeless families and in the support we are getting from all facets of our community. The opportunity to take this proposal to the voters is one we couldn’t pass up.”
Santa Clara County Housing Task Force, on which Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Supervisor Mike Wasserman served, had recommended the development of new revenue tools throughout the County to address affordable housing needs. And polling results by EMC Research reflected a strong concern among voters about the area’s lack of affordable housing as well as support for a measure to pay for it. In previous surveys, respondents have consistently rated traffic and crime as the biggest problems facing the County.
“For the first time in recent memory, voters see the most important problem facing Santa Clara County as housing,” Chavez said. “We have nearly five thousand people living on our streets and in our creeks, and the housing for them does not exist. This is why this bond measure is essential.”
Also supporting a countywide revenue-generating measure is San Jose Mayor San Liccardo, Barbara Keegan, Chairwoman of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors, and The Health Trust CEO Fred Ferrer. Ferrer spoke at the meeting Tuesday along with more than 50 community members representing labor, business, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, affordable housing developers, as well as individuals who are homeless or who have been homeless.
If approved by a two-thirds majority of the voters, the $950 million General Obligation Bond would not affect the County’s General Fund, but would raise property taxes based on the value of the property for tax purposes. The owner of a home valued at $500,000 by the Tax Assessor’s Office, for example, would pay $12.66 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, or $63.30 a year more in property taxes.
The spending plan of the bond would allocate $700 million for Extremely Low-Income housing (below 30 percent of area median income), including Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing; $100 million for Very Low Income housing (31 to 50 percent of the area median income); up to $100 million for housing assistance for Moderate Income households; and up to $50 million for Moderate Income residents who are first-time homebuyers.
Permanent Supportive Housing targets chronically homeless, or those who have been homeless for more than a year and need such services as mental health, substance abuse or medical care. This type of housing provides those services.
Rapid Rehousing is generally for those who experience homelessness for brief periods, have an income and need transitional housing for up to 18 months in order to get stable and move into permanent housing. Included in this population could be victims of human trafficking and domestic violence as well as those leaving the Foster Care system.
The affordable housing units would be built throughout the County, and the funds would be leveraged to attract matching funds from private and state and federal sources.
In 2015, the Homeless Point in Time census and survey revealed there were 6,556 homeless in Santa Clara County with 4,627 unsheltered. When compared with similar surveys, Santa Clara County has the fourth largest number of homeless in the United States.
The Community Plan to End Homelessness in Santa Clara County provides a valuable blueprint regarding the types of housing that need to be built in the next five years. The plan identifies the addition of 3,600 supportive housing units and 2,400 rapid rehousing units to address the complex needs of the homeless populations in our community.
For more details about the proposed Affordable Housing Bond, view Item No. 10 on the June 21, 2016 Board of Supervisors meeting agenda:
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