Housing Updates & COVID-19
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.
A few of the immediate challenges we are addressing:
Protecting Renters and Low-Income Households from Displacement—SV@Home is providing technical assistance to local jurisdictions and working with community partners to advocate for tenant protection ordinances that ensure that renters cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent as a result of COVID-19 related job loss/reduction. San Jose took action on March 17th to approve an eviction moratorium. Please see the eviction moratorium website & fact sheet. (Spanish and Vietnamese here.) SV@Home is coordinating an online petition with a strong coalition of community-based organizations:
Responding to Development Challenges—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.
Focusing on Specific Impacts to Affordable Housing—If tenants in affordable housing development are unable to pay rent, affordable housing developers may be unable to operate their developments and may default on government and private loans. SV@Home is working with regional partners to seek solutions that would allow developers to weather the storm.
Advocating for State Solutions—In our role as a leader of the 3Ps Coalition, we are discussing actions with our CASA partners to ensure that housing solutions are included in state legislation and the Governor’s budget.
We understand we are not doing this alone. We are in daily communications with our partners and coordinating efforts when applicable. There is great work being done to address the most immediate needs in our community.
Please see a list of resources and volunteer opportunities at the #SiliconValleyStrong website. Silicon Valley Strong calls on the community to stay informed and look out for each other. This landing page serves as a hub with critical updates and resources for vulnerable neighbors—accepting tips for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org. This page is updated daily and is currently being translated into Spanish and Vietnamese.
Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. continues to work closely with healthcare providers, hospitals, and its partners to address novel coronavirus. The department is taking action to protect the public and keep the community informed.
The State of California also has resources related to state-issued updates and recommendations.