November 13, 2018

November Election Brings Good News and Some Surprises


November Election Roundup: Good News Bad News for Affordable Housing

It’s been a week, and ballots from last Tuesday’s election are still being counted at Santa Clara County’s election headquarters. A few contests are yet to be called, but we wanted to share some initial takeaways.

Voters are generally supportive of taxing themselves for housing – Propositions 1 and 2 both received the votes needed to pass, garnering 59.23% and 65.41% respectively. Collectively, these measures will invest $6 million in affordable housing throughout the State. And, while Measure V narrowly lost, more than 63% of the voters were supportive of the measure to raise $450 million for affordable homes in San Jose.

There is broad community support for affordable housingOur housing partners from throughout the State—from the California Housing Consortium to Housing California to the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California—were front and center in the fight for affordable housing funding. But they were joined by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the California Chamber of Commerce, tenants’ rights groups, environmental and health leaders, and veterans’ groups, among others.  Measure V was supported by labor, business, environmental, transit, and education organizations and a wide spectrum of community groups and leaders.

The 2/3rds requirement is a high hurdle—While the State measures only needed a simple majority, San Jose’s Measure V was a local special tax and required a two-thirds vote. Getting to 66.67% of the vote is difficult, and despite a concerted effort to get the word out about the benefits of Measure V the votes fell short. Local school measures only need 55% approval. Housing advocates have long supported a similar threshold requirement for affordable housing measures.

San Jose leaders will have to look elsewhere to fill the affordable housing funding gap—The funding from Measure V would have filled the subsidy gap needed to meet the Mayor’s 10,000 affordable unit goal. According to City staff, the gap stands at $500 million.  SV@Home supports studying a Commercial Linkage Fee, a tool adopted by surrounding cities in Santa Clara County to fund affordable housing development.

Several key housing supporters lost their races. We will need to meet with and engage new electeds on affordable housing—Newcomers unseated several housing-friendly councilmembers in Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Milpitas. We are sad to see Mayor Lenny Seigel—a strong voice for affordable housing in Mountain View—fall short in his bid for another term. Mountain View Councilmember Pat Showalter, another strong housing ally, is fighting for her seat on the council with some votes left to count. The race is still tight in Cupertino, where Councilmember Savita Vaidhyanathan is seeking to hold her seat. And, in Palo Alto, Councilmember Cory Wolbach lost his seat, as did Milpitas Councilmembers Marsha Grilli and Garry Barbadillo. SV@Home will be reaching out to the new Councilmembers from throughout the County to talk to them about housing in the coming weeks and grow our network of elected housers.

The new leader at the top says housing is a priorityIncoming Governor Gavin Newsom has made housing his top priority and called for construction of 3.5 million homes between now and 2025. Until now, there has not been a champion for housing in the Governor’s seat. This gives us hope.

We need a regional approach to solve our housing crisisA few local measures passed (in Berkeley and in Napa County), but others failed. Solving housing on a city by city basis is not an effective way of dealing with a problem that transcends borders. We need to have a regional strategy that prioritizes housing and requires that all jurisdictions participate in addressing our housing demand. The good news is that CASA—the Committee to House the Bay Area—is finalizing its work on a regional compact and it is expected that legislation will soon be introduced to move bold action forward.

Propositions 1 and 2 Sail to Victory!

The State of California now has $6 billion in new funding for affordable housing, with voters approving Propositions 1 and 2 on Tuesday with 54.1% and 61.2% of the vote respectively.

The funds from Prop 1 will be distributed to existing programs managed by the State Departments of Housing and Community Development and Veterans Affairs and the California Housing Finance Agency as shown below. Because the funding is targeted to existing programs, the funds should be available in the short term.

HCD Programs–
Multifamily Housing Program (MHP)– $1.5 billion
Infill Infrastructure Grant Fund– $300 million
Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grants– $300 million
Local Housing Trust Matching Grants– $300 million
CalHome– $300 million
Transit Oriented Development Program– $150 million

VA Program–
Cal-Vet Farm and Home Loan Program– $1 billion

CalHFA Program–
CalHFA Home Purchase Assistance– $150 million

Because Proposition 1 funding will be competitively awarded, we aren’t certain how much funding will come to Santa Clara County. However, we know that Santa Clara County has fared well in receiving funding from past State bond measures, so it is likely to be a significant amount.

The funds from Prop 2 will be used to leverage State funds to build supportive housing for people living with a serious illness who are either currently homeless of at risk of homelessness. The funds will be connected to mental health services and addiction treatment. We estimate that the County will receive $10 million annually for homeless programs through this measure.

Measure V Falls Just Short

A big shout out to Mayor Sam Liccardo and the Measure V Team for all the work that they did to support $450 million in funding for San Jose residents. There were endless calls and texts, and hundreds of miles walked and doors knocked. We can’t give up– the bottom line is that a significant majority of the voters– more than 63%– supported funding for housing.

We want to thank everyone who worked hard in the last few months to support affordable housing. We have much to celebrate, but much work yet to do. We are ready!