Quetzal Gardens affordable apartments
January 31, 2024

Housing Element Update 01/31/24


San Jose receives housing element certification from the State!

On January 29th, the City of San Jose received a letter from HCD certifying its adopted Housing Element and commending the collaborative work of city staff and community stakeholders in refining a robust set of policy commitments. SV@Home supported the state certification of this final version of San Jose’s Housing Element. Over the last six months, we have worked in partnership with city staff, key stakeholders, and other local and regional housing and community advocacy organizations to constructively and successfully respond to HCD’s comments from September

San Jose’s Housing Element, like all of them, is a plan with commitments to policy outlines and timelines.  The scope of new and previously planned actions is significant, however, and subsequently, there is much work ahead. 

The plan outlines new production-focused policies such as an Infill Housing Ministerial Approval Ordinance to streamline by-right development of both affordable and market-rate housing beyond the current state standards set by SB35/SB423.  A number of programs commit to expanding opportunities to build multiple homes on single-family lots, including updated SB9 guidelines and ordinances that would go further to leverage affordability with additional units. There are also plans to evaluate and reform the planning process for Urban Villages and complete environmental reviews for the plan areas so individual developments do not need separate reviews. 

New tenant protection programs include a mix of work that has been in process for some time and important clarity on new steps the city can take to prevent displacement. Established work includes the Tenant and Neighborhood Preference program expected to be approved in March, which will set aside units in new affordable developments as an anti-displacement strategy. Work items that have gotten more clarity and clearer timelines include: the Right to Counsel study and expansion of diversion court efforts, local enforcement of state-level tenant protections, and Tenant/Landlord Resource Centers expanding access to information and resources, facilitating improved code enforcement, and promoting collaborative problem-solving and tenant empowerment. 

Affirming a commitment to housing preservation is arguably the clearest set of actions in the Housing Element because this work became the focus of HCD comments following the City Council’s rejection of a Community Opportunity to Purchase Ordinance last year. The final document has much more explicit language committing to annual funding for preservation acquisition, and community development capacity building.  

The Housing Element also commits to utilizing every opportunity to identify significant additional funds. Many of the policies and programs pave the way for new opportunities, but it will take significant resources to realize the potential of these opportunities and address the deep housing needs of the city. 

The good news is that in November 2024, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on an important regional housing bond that would deliver between $2.2 and $4.5 billion locally, split between the City of San Jose and the rest of Santa Clara County, in addition to regionwide investments! These funds are critical to bringing to life the plans in our jurisdictions’ Housing Elements and to meeting the housing needs of residents of all income levels across each of our jurisdictions.  It is great to see cities like San Jose committing to seeking out these resources.