No longer business as usual. SV@Home pivots in the face of COVID-19:

When SV@Home was formed back in 2015 to address Silicon Valley’s housing crisis, we never dreamed that we would face the added challenge of COVID-19. While we all hope that this crisis is short-lived and that we can go back to fighting for more new housing, the preservation of our existing affordable homes, and the protection of our residents, we now must pivot to respond to the immediate crisis and start planning for the potential for both mid-term and longer-term residual impacts.

 

Santa Clara County is one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots. We have been under a local shelter in place directive since Tuesday, March 17th at 12:01am, with only those people who perform essential services still able to leave home for work. While totally advisable, we know that this will have economic ramifications for our residents, particularly those who are the most at risk. We also know that, while housing development is considered to be an essential service, there are many challenges being faced by the development community. In addition, we have more than 8,000 people who find themselves homeless on any given day in the County, and they are particularly vulnerable to infection.

 

Check out SV@Home’s Policy Platform here

 

SV@HOME CALL FOR ACTION ON COVID-19

SV@Home’s mission is to drive the creation of affordable housing for a more vibrant and equitable Silicon Valley. Since opening our doors in 2015, we have worked to increase housing opportunities throughout the County through policy, advocacy, research, learning, and engagement.

Silicon Valley’s affordable housing crisis is acute. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of challenge to this already enormous crisis.

SV@Home is uniquely positioned to advocate for housing solutions. We know that immediate steps are critically important, but also know that the impact of the pandemic will be felt for a long time requiring both mid-term and long-term responses.

Ultimately, we know that while we need to have a laser focus on the current crisis, we must continue to keep up the fight for investment in new affordable housing development, preservation of existing affordable housing, and protection of our residents from displacement. This will require that—in addition to immediate actions– we double down on our work to increase funding for housing and reduce obstacles to building that have added to the cost and time to bring new homes on line.

Here is SV@Home’s call to action for COVID-19.

Immediate Response

  1. Advocate for funding to respond to the housing impacts of COVID-19
    1. Work with the 3Ps Coalition, the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, and other State partners to advocate for adoption of a State housing relief package that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners.
    2. Advocate for State funding to respond to the immediate needs of lower- income tenants who are undocumented and unable to access federal support
    3. Support the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and other partners in calling for the adoption of a housing relief package in federal Stimulus #4 that provides immediate assistance to affordable housing providers, tenants, and homeowners facing housing insecurity due to COVID-19.
    4. Support efforts to raise money locally to help the most vulnerable in our community.
  2. Support Policies That Require Mandatory Sick Leave
  3.  Homelessness
    1. Support rapid response efforts to bring people indoors
    2. Leverage state properties and facilities by directing State agencies, utility districts and counties to immediately identify and make available public land for temporary or permanent emergency housing construction.
    3. Waive environmental regulations and State building codes for emergency construction of buildings to house people at risk of contracting the virus
  4. Keep People in Their Homes
    1. Enact a temporary moratorium on rent increases and evictions that extends a reasonable period of time after the end of the shelter in place order
    2. Encourage landlords and tenants to work together to restructure rental agreements or develop payment plans that avoid displacement.
    3. Halt foreclosures by requiring forbearance and restructuring of mortgages to enable homeowners and rental property owners to maintain their homes
    4. Protect against utility shut offs and advocate for similar forbearance for utilities that is similar to the rent moratorium.
  5. Protect Existing Affordable Housing
    1. Advocate for local actions to enable affordable housing developments to weather the storm by allowing for deferral of payments, use of reserves, and potential restructuring. This includes:
      1. Cities should defer all payment of 2019 residual receipts owed by affordable housing providers at the property level and allow the funds to be placed in a reserve for the benefit of the properties and residents.
      2. At the end of the year, if the crisis has subsided, allow the use of any unused residual to forgive past due rent owed by tenants.
    2. Create regulatory flexibility in existing State affordable housing programs to help affordable housing owners to operate their developments with reduced rental income
      1. Encourage all lenders to allow forbearance for all affordable housing developments.
      2. Provide opportunities to restructure State loans as an alternative to forbearance.
  6. Allow Residential Construction to Move Forward
    1. Declare that residential construction is an essential service
    2. Continue to take actions that move housing development forward, including permitting, plan review, and building and fire inspections.
    3. Review and remove City- and State-required deadlines for development that might slow due to the pandemic.
    4. Approve new incentives for affordable housing development, including faster processing and reduction or elimination of fees.
    5. As proposed by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, take actions to protect CDLAC and CTAC-funded developments, including enacting bond allocation extensions, extending placed in service deadlines, and granting extensions and waivers of performance deposit forfeitures for both competitive and non- competitive projects.

Mid-Term and Long-Term Response

  1. Make housing a priority at the State and federal levels
  2. Adequately fund housing programs
    1. Expand the Housing Choice Voucher Program
    2. Expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
    3. Increase private activity bond authority.
    4. Increase the State commitment to affordable housing
  3. Avoid the speculation that happened in 2008 by providing funding to developers to purchase at risk properties for conversion to affordable housing
  4. Strengthen requirements for jurisdictions to meet their fair share of the housing need.
  5. Streamline local processes, lower unnecessary fees, and expand by-right development.
  6. Support the California Housing Partnership Corporation and other partners in calling for the federal government to address the shortage of tax-exempt bonds for new home development by creating an exemption for all affordable housing from the private activity bond cap; or 2) reducing the tax-exempt bond 50% test to 25%.
  7. Advocate for changes to the State CDLAC process to ensure that Santa Clara County developments are competitive for limited 4% credits.
  8. Extend LIHTC deadlines and take action to update the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program as part of a broader stimulus package per the ACTION Coalition letter.

 

Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County is managing referrals to temporary homeless shelters. The County is responding to calls seven days a week from 9 am to 6 pm at 408-278-6420.

The County has tapped Valley Homeless Healthcare Program (VHHP) and Gardner Health Services, non-profit partners, with identifying homeless individuals who have multiple underlying health conditions identified by the CDC that make them at high risk if they were to contract COVID-19. We have prioritized sheltering these at-risk individuals. Additionally, medical providers go to encampments, shelters and community-based organizations multiple times per week throughout the City and County to share information about COVID-19 and provide medical care.

VHHP is now providing mass asymptomatic COVID-19 swabbing for the homeless community at all congregate sites. This includes all shelters, safe parking sites and encampments of 10 or more people. The testing will be administered monthly at all sites.

Learn more about the County’s response.

Partnership between Santa Clara County and the City of San Jose

In response to the COVID-19 emergency and the City’s shelter crisis declaration, the City of San José is developing three emergency interim housing communities to help protect unhoused people from the disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and expand the City’s interim housing capacity after the emergency recedes. One of these emergency interim housing communities will be in Council District 6 on Evans Lane near Almaden Expressway. The City Council has approved construction of an emergency interim housing community at the intersection of Monterey Road and Bernal Road. The City Council has also directed staff to develop plans for emergency interim housing on Rue Ferrari near Highway 101.

The City of San José is working closely with the County of Santa Clara, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Destination: Home, Valley Homeless Healthcare Program (VHHP), and many partner agencies and nonprofits on a coordinated effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact COVID-19 could have on homeless individuals and families. You can find more information about this coordinated effort here.

Steps the City is taking to support our homeless neighbors include:

  • Suspending abatements of homeless encampments to avoid unintentionally placing people at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Placing hygiene equipment such as handwashing stations and portable toilets at large homeless encampments to help slow the spread of COVID-19
  • Arranging for garbage collection at homeless encampments to help maintain sanitary conditions
  • Providing information in multiple languages to homeless individuals in shelters, on the streets, and in encampments to help them understand how they can protect themselves from COVID-19
  • Using South Hall as a temporary shelter for unhoused adults
  • Using the Camden Community Center as a temporary shelter for unhoused families
  • Identifying older homeless individuals with chronic health conditions who should be sheltered or isolated
  • Operating two Safe Parking locations 24/7
  • Piloting a food distribution program that provides boxed meals to unhoused residents at two encampments

The City and County are distributing fliers from the CDC and public health officials that describe the steps everyone should be taking to slow the spread of COVID-19. These fliers include:

Motel Conversions

On June 30, 2020, Governor Newsom announced the $600 million Homekey Initiative, a hotel/motel conversion strategy designed to bring permanent housing for the homeless on line quickly and cost effectively. The Homekey initiative builds on the state’s current COVID-19 emergency housing response effort, Project Roomkey, which has provided state funding to cover the rent at local hotel and motel rooms for more than 14,200 medically vulnerable unhoused people since the beginning of the pandemic. We were happy to see that, as of September 29th, three Homekey projects in Santa Clara County had received funding awards.

  • The City of San Jose has been awarded $14,516,000 to turn a 76-unit property currently operating as a Project Roomkey project into permanent housing.
  • The City of Mountain View will receive $12.3 million to acquire land to site 100 manufactured units that will serve as interim housing with wraparound services and a coordinated exit strategy, more than doubling shelter beds in the city. Overall cost is under $100,000 per unit.
  • Santa Clara County will receive $29.2 million to acquire an occupancy-ready, 146-room property in Milpitas with in-room kitchenettes for permanent residencies.

Learn more about the Homekey Initiative projects in the South Bay and much more, at SV@Home’s Resource Hub.

Homeowner Protections

“No Lump Sum Required at the End of Forbearance,” Says FHFA

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gave many borrowers with financial hardships a forbearance option, which is a temporary pause or reduction in their monthly mortgage payments. The missed payments eventually have to be paid back.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) wants homeowners in forbearance to know they are not required to make lump sum repayments if their mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Note: Not all home loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For those borrowers who opt for forbearance, the FHFA says that their mortgage servicer will contact them about 30-days before the end of the forbearance plan to see if the temporary hardship has been resolved and discuss a variety of repayment options. If the hardship has not been resolved, the forbearance plan can be extended. If the hardship has been resolved, the servicer will work with the borrower to:

  • Set up a repayment plan;
  • Modify the loan so the borrower’s payments are added to the end of the mortgage; or
  • Set up a modification that reduces the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

 

For more information, click here.

 

Federal Government Announces Relief for FHA-Backed Mortgages

For those homeowners whose mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), they may qualify for the suspension or lowering of your mortgage payments for up to twelve months if they show that they have been economically impacted by COVID-19. It is estimated that 50-65% of the mortgages throughout the country are impacted by this action. It is important to note that this is not a forgiveness of debt.

For further information, see Federal Response to Housing and COVID-19 page on this website and information prepared by the staff of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

 

State of California Announces Mortgage Relief

On March 25th, Governor Newsom announced that four of the five major national banks– Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase– agreed to waive mortgage payments for 90 days for those affected by COVID-19. Bank of America has committed to a 30-day forbearance, with additional extensions possible. Many State-charter banks and credit unions have also agreed to a 90-day forbearance.  While there are no income requirements to obtain mortgage relief, a homeowner will need to provide evidence that they have been impacted by COVID-19. This is not a forgiveness of debt.

If homeowners are having trouble paying their mortgages, they should contact and work directly with their mortgage servicer to learn about and apply for available relief.

More information can be found here.

 

With massive layoffs impacting tens of thousands of low-wage workers, we know that many will be challenged to pay bills, including rent. Immediate action is needed to ensure that these workers and their families do not lose their homes. Santa Clara County is already grappling with how to bring an estimated 8.000 homeless residents inside to shield them from COVID-19. It is up to us to ensure that this number does not grow.

At both the State and local levels, elected officials have taken action to protect tenants from eviction. It is important to note, however, that these responses only address the immediate challenge. A moratorium on evictions will not relieve tenants of paying rent in the long run. As a result, SV@Home is working with partners throughout the region and State to develop responses to ensure that tenants will not be displaced when the moratorium ends.

Eviction Moratorium Update and Where it Leaves Us

On September 30th, Santa Clara County’s eviction moratorium lapsed, meaning that the state’s eviction moratorium, known as AB 3088, now governs evictions in Santa Clara County. AB 3088 is a stopgap eviction moratorium measure passed by the legislature that lasts through the end of January.

Under AB 3088, tenants will need to pay 25% of their rent due for the September 2020 – January 2021 time period by January 31st in order to be protected from eviction. Landlords must inform tenants of their protections under AB 3088 if they choose to serve an eviction notice during this timeframe, or the eviction does not have legal force. Forms for landlords are available here. Tenants have 15 days to respond to a notice to pay or quit, and if they fill out this form stating that they meet certain criteria, they are protected from eviction.

AB 3088 only protects tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent. Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, such as lease violations, can be filed starting on October 5th – it remains to be seen whether October 5th will see an avalanche of evictions filed. For FAQs about protections under AB 3088, visit the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s helpful guide.

This law is very complex. However, there are some tools that may be able to help you navigate rights and protections:

  • The state has created a website to inform landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the new law at https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/index.html. It includes an interactive app/tool that asks questions and provides information relevant to your situation.
  • Sacred Heart Community Service has created a chatbot that can walk you through your rights, responsibilities, and options: Sacred Heart Chatbot.
  • Santa Clara County tenants who are confused about their rights can call the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley at 408-280-2424 to speak to a lawyer, or visit https://www.lawfoundation.org/housing for an online intake form.

So where does this leave struggling tenants and landlords in Santa Clara County?  The intent of the eviction moratoria is to keep as many people as possible in their homes and to avoid mass displacement.  Without additional intervention, however, this action will simply be temporary with real risks for displacement and economic impact on smaller landlords and affordable housing providers.  This crisis is of a scale that only the Federal Government has the resources to comprehensively address.  As of today, negotiations are ongoing in Washington about another stimulus proposal that includes targeted emergency assistance for both lower-income renters and landlords. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

If you receive an eviction notice during this COVID-19 emergency, reach out to the Law Foundation at 408-280-2424.

 

Rental Assistance Programs

Financial Assistance for Low-Income Residents Impacted by COVID-19

The Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System has temporary financial assistance available to help low-income residents who have lost income and are unable to pay rent as a result of COVID-related impacts. Learn more about eligibility for the program here. Visit sacredheartcs.org/covid19.
If you have questions about how to complete the application, please call 408-780-9134 or email: covid19help@sacredheartcs.org.

Rental Assistance for Mountain View Renters (Community Services Agency)

To apply, contact the Community Services Agency (CSA). Access their information at CSACares.org or call (650) 968-0836 and leave a voicemail.

Even though housing is considered an essential service under both local and state directives, there are numerous challenges being faced by both nonprofit and for-profit developers. This includes building inspectors with reduced hours or cities that have stopped building inspections, worker shortages as staff from subcontractors choose not to come to work, and interruptions in supply lines. With construction delays, developers may miss development deadlines and incur additional interest costs, putting development at risk. SV@Home is collaborating with regional partners to collect important data about city development services and develop responses to these challenges.

 

SV@Home’s Call to Action

The Bay Area Housing Advocacy Coalition, in coordination with SV@Home and other regional partners– YIMBY Action, SPUR, and the Bay Area Council– has created this resource page to provide information for homebuilders, renters, and homeowners in the Bay Area during the COVID-19 “Shelter In Place” order. This information was gathered from elected officials and staff from cities and counties throughout the Bay Area. Please note that this information has not been independently verified.

Since this information may change over time, if you have up-to-date information, additional data, or questions, please reach out to Alison Cingolani at Alison@siliconvalleyathome.org.

Bay Area-Wide County Information:

Bay Area-wide City Information:

Congress approved funding for housing as a part of its March stimulus package. It is expected that the next round of stimulus funding will include more funding for housing and affordable housing, but it is not clear when the next stimulus package will be passed.

March Federal Stimulus Package Provides Key Funding

A $2 trillion relief package was signed into law on March 27th, providing $150 billion in aid for state and local governments and $12.4 billion in funding for US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs:

    • Tenant Based Rental Assistance — $1.25 billion
    • Public Housing Operating Fund — $685 million
    • Housing Opportunity for Persons with AIDS — $65 million
    • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — $ 5 billion
    • Homeless Assistant Grants — $4 billion
    • Project Based Rental Assistance — $1 billion
    • Housing for the Elderly — $ 50 million
    • Housing for Persons with Disabilities — $15 million

So what does this mean for Santa Clara County? While some of the funds are competitive, so it is unclear whether Santa Clara County will benefit, we do know about some funding coming our way. Here are the current numbers as detailed by HUD–

Community Development Block Grants

  • San Jose– $8,947,319
  • Cupertino– $389,308
  • Gilroy– $468,300
  • Milpitas– $592,761
  • Mountain View– $592,761
  • Palo Alto– $501,355
  • Santa Clara– $1,039,874
  • Sunnyvale– $1,184,793
  • Santa Clara County– $1,520,720

Home Investment Partnership (HOME)

  • San Jose– $3,319,683
  • Santa Clara– $433,815
  • Sunnyvale– $426,754
  • Santa Clara County– $1,010,604
Emergency Shelter Grants
  • San Jose– $778,209
Housing for People With AIDS (HOPWA)
  • San Jose– $1,440,393

Other Actions

  • A 60- day foreclosure moratorium on all federally-backed mortgage loans, and up to 180 days forbearance (and an additional 180 day extension if needed) for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan.
  • Up to 90-day forbearance of residential mortgage loan payments for multifamily properties of 5+ units with federally-backed loans if borrowers do not evict or charge late fees to tenants during the forbearance period.
  • A 120-day moratorium on eviction filings or other legal action to charge fees or penalties if the property is insured, guaranteed, supplemented, protected, or assisted by HUD, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

 

There is a broad network of local government and nonprofit partners working together to address immediate needs in our community. The most comprehensive location to access resources and information, donate to the effort, or plug in as a volunteer is #SiliconValleyStrong. Silicon Valley Strong supports residents, businesses, and nonprofits that have been affected by COVID-19, and the page is available in multiple languages. Here you’ll find:

  • Information on help with food and rent
  • Links to resources in local cities and towns
  • A virtual job fair for current job openings
  • Help for seniors and families
  • Physical and mental health resources
  • Ways to support local small restaurants and businesses
  • Resources for families on distance learning
  • The latest coronavirus response news, and more

The City of San Jose has also put together a detailed webpage for COVID-19 resources, and an additional page focused on employers, workers and businesses.

You can also dial Santa Clara County’s 211 at any time for homeowner, tenant, and landlord assistance in 150 languages.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department webpage provides a one-stop resource for information on COVID-19, including a series of dashboards tracking the spread of COVID-19, information on how to protect yourself and others, and specifics on the Shelter in Place Order.

Statewide resources

 Additional resources accessible across California, information on state actions during the COVID-19 crisis, and state-level information about the spread of the virus can be found on the California COVID-19 response webpage.

Older Californians who need someone to talk to can call the new statewide Friendship Line at 1-888-670-1360.

All Home Statement—All Home advances coordinated, innovative service delivery and develops coalitions to challenge the systems that perpetuate homelessness in the 9-County Bay Area.

Monterey Bay Economic Partnership Position Paper— The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) is a regional member-supported nonprofit organization consisting of public, private and civic entities located throughout the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz.

National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Federal Regulatory Recommendations— The National Low Income Housing Coalition works to achieve socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent home

Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California’s Policy Statement— The Non Profit Housing Association (NPH) works to advance meaningful, critical policy solutions, and to strengthen the affordable housing community that implements the programs and policies for the 9-County Bay Area

Affordable Rental Housing A.C.T.I.O.N. Recommendations to Congress –The ACTION Campaign is a coalition of over 2,300 national, state, and local organizations and businesses working to address our nation’s severe shortage of affordable rental housing by protecting, expanding and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Terner Center’s Lessons From the Great Recession- Housing Aid Now!–The UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation, a collaboration between the College of Environmental Design (CED) and the Haas School of Business,  leverages applied research and best practices to inform and advance innovation in the planning, financing, design and development of the built environment.

The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition Recommendations — AHTCC is a trade organization of housing professionals who advocate for affordable rental housing financed using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

National Alliance to End Homelessness–The Alliance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States

Joint Statement from State and Regional Organizations– Immediate Actions Necessary to Mitigate the Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Affordable Housing Developments (4/8/20)— A statement from the California Housing Consortium, California Housing Partnership Corporation, Housing California, Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, Sacramento Housing Alliance, California Coalition for Rural Housing, the Kennedy Commission, and the San Diego Housing Federation.

Enterprise Community Partners Northern California Policy Statement-Enterprise Community Partners brings together nationwide know-how, partners, policy leadership and investment to multiply the impact of local affordable housing development.

Tackling Affordable Housing and Homelessness During and After COVID-19: A Framework and Package of Immediate and Long-Term Policy Solutions — A framework of solutions to guide decision-makers as they respond to affordable housing and homelessness challenges, from the California Housing Consortium, California Housing Partnership Corporation, Housing California, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, the San Diego Housing Federation, California Coalition for Rural Housing, Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Sacramento Housing Alliance, and the Kennedy Commission.