Shipping containers converted to homes line the perimeter of the Evans Lane interim housing facility located on city-owned land, in San José, on Jan. 30, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
May 4, 2023

Newsletter: Housing Happenings, May Updates from SV@Home


Housing Happenings


Affordable Housing Month is here! Our theme this year is Building Community, which cannot happen without all of you. We invite you to join the conversation this month, attend one of our many upcoming events, and connect with fellow housing advocates in our region. Our events are open to everyone so please help us spread the word– bring your colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors with you!

#MembershipMatters – Become a Member Today!


Proposed 2023-2024 Budget Released in San Jose

Yesterday, May 3rd, the San Jose City Manager released the 2023-2024 Proposed Operating Budget. Attachment D of the document outlines the relocation of Measure E affordable housing and homelessness response funds. The document combines multiple years of income and includes what appear to be proposed multi-year allocations, which presents challenges in digesting and interpreting it.  We expect additional clarifying memoranda by the end of the week and will provide a more detailed analysis when they are released. 


A couple of proposals clearly in the document are: 

  • Increasing funding for the development and operations of emergency interim housing shelters well beyond the 15% allocation limit currently in the Measure E expenditure plan;  
  • Increasing funding for homeless prevention and response systems beyond the 10% currently allocated to these programs;
  • Funding multi-year allocations for interim shelters and safe parking sites, and the associated management and service costs;
  • Relocating Measure E funds received in prior years as well as all of what is expected to be collected in 2023-24 away from the production of permanently supportive and affordable housing;
  • Excluding funding allocations for affordable housing that has not already been approved by the City Council.

The document also notes that the costs of operating emergency interim housing shelter communities, currently estimated at over $20 million per year for the communities currently in operation, will increase to as much as $50 million per year by 2029 if additional Emergency Interim Housing sites are developed. Currently, the source of funds for these ongoing budgetary commitments has not been identified but the document indicates that they will likely rely on Measure E or General Fund dollars. Current year Measure E receipts are estimated at $65 million and are expected to decline in future years. The City Manager plans to release a more detailed analysis of the budgetary obligations of interim sites by the end of this month, after the planned council study session and community meeting, but in time to inform the various commissions and the final council vote.


Because the proposed budget diverges from the current Measure E expenditure plan, as amended in 2021, it will require a two-thirds majority vote of council to change the expenditure plan. 


SV@Home’s position has been consistent throughout this process and reflects the values and knowledge we use to shape our work. The homelessness crisis that our community is experiencing is first and foremost due to our community’s shortage of homes. The increase and despair of chronic homelessness is a reflection of the stress and vulnerability of housing instability caused by the lack of homes people can afford.


That is why in 2019 San Jose chose to pass Measure E: to add stability to our community and build more homes that are affordable to those who are most vulnerable. Measure E’s current expenditure plan commits to investing in affordable housing at every level of affordability, including homelessness prevention and the construction of emergency interim housing.


More homes is the solution to homelessness, and our community has created a comprehensive plan grounded in the need for more permanently affordable homes. Emergency interim housing is a valuable shelter innovation, which is most effective when there are sufficient permanent homes for community members to transition into. 


So, it is essential to remain committed to the comprehensive approach to addressing housing instability and the growing population of people without homes in San Jose.  Failure to fund development communities that are ready to move forward this year and next, will increase costs and leave thousands of people and families unnecessarily housing unstable, worsening the housing deficit impacting many of us.


We can maintain our commitment to long-term and comprehensive solutions and expect the city council to recognize the value of sustaining a comprehensive approach to addressing the homelessness and housing affordability crisis.


The city council will look at the relocation of Measure E affordable housing funds at the planned council study session on Wednesday of next week starting at 9:30.  We will share further analysis and talking points ahead of that meeting.  More to come.


COPA in San Jose

On Tuesday, April 25, the San Jose City Council voted (8-3) to end the City’s exploration of adopting a Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA). The policy has been under development for the last three years, including hundreds of hours of community discussion and educational meetings, a number of City Council Study sessions, and overwhelming community support from communities most impacted by displacement. We want to recognize the investment of time and energy by the Housing Department staff, community-based organizations, and advocates throughout this process. The Council rejection was guided by the March 27 meeting of the Community and Economic Development Committee, highlighting how critical these subcommittees can be prior to a policy even reaching the full council.


The final version of COPA proposed requiring notification of tenants and nonprofits of the availability of rental properties (excluding single-family homes) before they were listed or sold to a third-party buyer. After rejecting the COPA program, the Council made commitments to explore other vehicles for preventing displacement through housing preservation strategies. The council direction included building out an ecosystem of community-based development organizations and supporting infrastructure to increase capacity for preservation of existing housing. A status update on this plan will be required by the end of the year.


SV@Home submitted a letter in support of COPA emphasizing the importance of “preservation” as one of the 3Ps to tackle the housing crisis. Although the outcome is disappointing, SV@Home remains committed to ensuring that San Jose develops a strong preservation policy and infrastructure to implement it. 


The COPA program was included in the city’s draft Housing Element Update submitted to the state Department of Housing and Community Development last year.  While it is not clear what the impact will be on the certification process, COPA was included as a response to the documented loss of affordable rental units in San Jose and the resulting displacement of households, disproportionately impacting communities of color. This leaves the council direction to develop alternative preservation strategies as an opportunity to create new concrete preservation programs, with timelines and outcome metrics, for inclusion in the Housing Element to support certification.


Tenant Protections in Sunnyvale

On Tuesday, April 25, the Sunnyvale City Council voted unanimously to create a Residential Tenant Protections Program. This program will include a Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) to require landlords to provide 2 months of market rate rent to help with relocation costs due to a “no fault” eviction. No fault evictions can include: when the owner wants to remove the rental unit from the market, when the building is redeveloped or renovated, or when an owner or a family member of the owner wants to move into the unit. The program also includes a new requirement that landlords must offer a 1 year lease to all tenants, rather than month-to-month leases. The tenant can accept or reject the lease and the two parties can then negotiate different terms. Both of these new policies will apply to all rental units and new and current tenants, closing a loophole in a state law (AB1482) that only extended protections to to tenants that had been in their units for over a year, and to properties that were built at least 15 years ago. SV@Home wrote a letter in support of these protections and urged the city to treat these actions as first steps that should be strengthened.


Along these lines, the council directed staff to study and bring back the option of increasing the relocation assistance to 3 months and include a special provision of extra assistance for households likely to struggle most with the displacement including: the elderly, people with disabilities, and families with children. They also directed staff to explore a “just cause” eviction prevention policy to extend protection from “no fault evictions” from the first day of tenancy, extending state protections which don’t kick in until after a tenant has lived in their apartment for 12 months.  


Sunnyvale’s actions follow similar policies recently adopted in Palo Alto, and scheduled for adoption in Santa Clara. Mountain View is also taking steps to improve their Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance.  These policies play an important role in reducing the impact of displacement by providing financial support to ideally enable tenants to stay in their communities, and decrease the risks of becoming homeless. Local extensions of protection from no-fault evictions, and mandated relocation payments, are tenant protection policies identified by the State as recommended actions to  Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) under housing element law by reducing the displacement risk for people of color and lower income households.


Homekey Project Moves Forward in Santa Clara

On May 2, the City of Santa Clara voted 4-3 (Councilmembers Becker, Hardy, Jain and Watanabe in support / Mayor Gillmor, Vice Mayor Park, and Councilmember Chahal opposed) to move forward the interim housing project on county owned land at Benton and Lawrence Expressway. The meeting was a continuation of the April 25 city council meeting, which had to recess when hundreds of public commenters pushed the meeting past midnight. The vote authorized the city manager to negotiate and execute a three-party letter of intent between LifeMoves, the city and the county, supporting their application for the current – and last – round of state Project HomeKey funding.  


The council decided not to be a co-applicant for the HomeKey application. The project will now go before the County Board of Supervisors who will need to approve the lease of the land and become cosponsors of the HomeKey application. The city will still need to approve the final agreement.


This was a significant win for interim housing following an extremely contentious process and following the council rejection of a similar HomeKey project. We appreciate the council’s thoughtful consideration of the needs of all Santa Clara residents, whether stability housed or not, and their courage in supporting the progression of this interim housing site. We want to highlight the local effort by a growing group of Santa Clara residents – Santa Clara Housing Advocates – to push forward this project and advocate for a comprehensive solution to end homelessness in the county. See photo from the advocates celebratory dinner below!


Housing Elements, which are required under state law and must be certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) as planning for ways to meet the needs of all residents at all income levels, were due from all Bay Area jurisdictions on January 31, 2023. Currently, no jurisdiction in Santa Clara County, and only 17 of the Bay Area’s 109 jurisdictions, have adopted a Housing Element that HCD has deemed compliant with state law. Learn more about what can happen when cities fail to adopt a compliant Housing Element by the deadline. 


For most of us this means there is still an opportunity to get involved and fight for good policies. Housing advocates can read the HCD review letter for their city’s Housing Element, and suggest solutions that meet local housing needs and respond to the issues raised by HCD. You should submit your comments both directly to your city and also to the assigned HCD reviewer. Find all the information you need in SV@Home’s Housing Element Toolkit.


Housing Element self-certification: Is that even a thing?!


Multiple jurisdictions in Santa Clara County have adopted draft Housing Elements that have not been certified as compliant with State Law by HCD. Does this “self-certification” that the Element is compliant protect the city from the consequences of failing to meet its deadline? Nope. According to HCD

A jurisdiction does not have the authority to determine that its adopted element is in substantial compliance but may provide reasoning why HCD should make a finding of substantial compliance.


In addition, a jurisdiction is “in compliance” as of the date of HCD’s letter finding the adopted element in substantial compliance. Any other letters are not a finding of substantial compliance. HCD recommends that a jurisdiction adopt only after receiving a letter from HCD finding the draft meets statutory requirements.(Gov. Code, §65585(h))

Has your city or town tried this fruitless end-run around State Law? Find out in SV@Home’s Housing Element Toolkit!


ICYMI: Stopping Tenant Displacement in Mountain View PIA

Last Friday, April 28th, we hosted the team leading Mountain View’s response to tenant displacement, and you can watch the full recording below


Assistant Community Development Director Wayne Chen and Partnership for the Bay’s Future Fellow Trisha Gonzalez joined our monthly Policy In Action (PIA) to update us on Mountain View’s effort to develop new policies to help tenants stay in their homes or at least stay in the community. The City has convened numerous conversations with different stakeholders to discuss options and get their input. The topic will come before the Mountain View City Council on May 23rd for a Study Session. 


Over the past decade, many residents have been displaced, and the crisis will not get better without new policies. SV@Home has been honored to partner with Mountain View on this work, and we are grateful Wayne and Trisha were able to meet with us and the public to answer questions.


Save the Date: Happy Housers in June


The month of May is full of partner events with more than 35 events offered throughout the month. For this newsletter we are highlighting events focused on tenant rights and resources, see below, and be sure to check out our full calendar of events.

Elevate Community Center Presents: Landlord & Tenant Rights Legal Education Workshop (May 8th). Join us for a legal education workshop discussing basic tenant rights, components of a lease, and what to do in case of landlord/tenant disputes.

Santa Clara County & the City of Gilroy Present: Community Meeting No. 2 & Resource Fair for Property at 8th & Alexander (May 11th). The County of Santa Clara and the City of Gilroy are partnering to help meet the affordable housing needs in Gilroy. We will share and receive feedback at the meeting. A Resource Fair with information about housing and other resources will follow the presentation and discussion.

The City of Gilroy and Project Sentinel Present: Virtual Workshop on Tenant/Landlord Information and Resources (May 9th). Project Sentinel and the City of Gilroy invite you to join us virtually to learn more about tenant and landlord issues. You will be provided an overview on state and local tenant protections, rent relief updates, and mortgage relief options.

City of Palo Alto Presents: Affordable Housing Resource Fair (May 13th)

SPUR Presents: Preserving Housing & Centering Tenants with Opportunities to Purchase (May 18th) One critical solution to strengthen our communities and protect tenants from losing their homes is the Tenant or Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, which is being proposed by cities and counties across California. We’re bringing together community organizers, policymakers, government officials, and affordable housing experts who have been on the front lines of drafting and adopting the act. They’ll explore how they’ve combatted opposition to and misinformation about the act, how government and philanthropy can creatively support the act’s implementation, and how the lessons they’ve learned can assist other jurisdictions looking to adopt a similar act.

For a full list of upcoming events, visit our Events Calendar. We look forward to seeing and connecting with you throughout the month.

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