February 5, 2020

Mercury News Opinion: Measure E will help solve San Jose’s housing crisis


Opinion: Measure E will help solve San Jose’s housing crisis

City can use innovative approach to help people afford to live in the same city where they work

San Jose has experienced extraordinary growth and development in recent years. But the flip side of that progress has been a housing affordability crisis.

San Jose is one of the most expensive cities in America to own a home. We are in danger of driving away our middle-class families including teachers, first responders, and nurses because they can’t afford to buy a home or pay their rent and still have enough left over for basic necessities like food and health care.

We also face a homelessness crisis. According to last year’s Santa Clara County Homeless Census, San Jose’s homeless population increased by 41 percent in just two years. We are a compassionate city; nobody wants to see our neighbors living on our streets, in our parks or along our creek beds. But for too long, our progress has been one step forward and two steps back — for every person we bring in from the cold, two more are pushed out the door.

We need to scale solutions. We need Measure E now. https://www.affordablesj.com

San Jose is defined by innovation. The ideas that emerge from our community have literally changed the world. There’s no reason we can’t build on that spirit of innovation to solve our city’s problems.

Measure E, which will appear on our March 3 ballot, will help us do just that – implement common-sense solutions to the challenges we face. Measure E is an opportunity to address our homelessness crisis by helping our vulnerable populations get back on their feet and move into stable housing. Measure E can help us provide more affordable housing — for families, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities and more — so people can afford to live in the same city where they work.

We know we can address these problems if we’re willing to embrace innovative solutions. In the last few years, the city of San Jose and Santa Clara County have helped to house about 4,000 homeless families and individuals — transitioning homeless people into safe and permanent housing and expanding access to supportive services.

We’ve also pursued innovative solutions in housing. Making it easier to build a backyard home, cutting red-tape, and developing public-private partnerships — these are the bold ideas that have helped us chip away at our housing shortage.

But we need to do more. We need to fund proven programs that get people off the streets and into shelter or permanent housing. We need to build more housing near existing transit, so we’re not solving one problem (housing) by making another (like traffic gridlock) worse.

We know we face a crisis, but the solutions are within our reach if we embrace the spirit of innovation that has propelled our city forward time and time again. That’s why we’re proud to be part of the broad coalition of neighbors, community groups and housing experts supporting Yes on Measure E – please join us.Gina Dalma is senior vice president of public policy at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Kevin Zwick is CEO of the Housing Trust Silicon Valley. Leslye Corsiglia is executive director of Silicon Valley at Home.