January 30, 2020

Policy Rundown – January 30th, 2020


Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks as well as key upcoming items where you can get engaged.

San José State University Housing Announcement

On Monday, San José State University President Mary Papazian announced a number of bold steps the University is taking to address housing affordability for staff and students as well as student homelessness. Most significantly, with support from State Senator Jim Beall and Assemblymember Ash Kalra, SJSU is planning to redevelop the state-owned Alquist Building in Downtown San José to build up to 1,200 new housing units affordable to staff, faculty, and graduate students with families. Additionally, SJSU has acquired $2.3m in California State University Chancellor’s Office grants (to become over $3m over three years) to provide support to undergraduate students in need of housing and other basic needs. Papazian also stated that, through collaboration with the Student Homeless Alliance, SJSU will expand its SJSU Cares program to provide resources to students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. SV@Home applauds SJSU’s new initiatives and is looking forward to working closely with the University on implementation. We’re also thrilled that SJSU will serve as the host of our 5th annual Affordable Housing Week Policy Luncheon on May 8th, where we’ll be focusing on the intersection of education and affordable housing. Save the date and stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Santa Clara County Community Plan to End Homelessness and Cortese Homelessness Task Force

On January 26th, the City of San José and the County Office of Supportive Housing, in partnership with Destination:Home, hosted a public meeting to discuss proposed updates to the Santa Clara County Community Plan to End Homelessness. The original Community Plan, adopted in 2014, laid out a five-year roadmap through 2020 to implement a multi-sectoral strategy to end homelessness County-wide. Key successes included the establishment of a supportive housing system, 6,937 people experiencing homelessness or housing instability housed, 1,537 apartments with supportive services built or underway, the creation of a new homelessness prevention system and the increase in its capacity by 340%. As of 2018, 97% of individuals/families who were receiving housing prevention assistance remained housed and 90% of individuals/families who received housing prevention services remained housed 12 months after receiving services.

The updating process now underway is reflecting on the successes of the original Plan and seeks to identify new opportunities to improve and expand the Plan’s effectiveness and scope of work. We strongly support the proposed comprehensive approach that combines the pillars of Permanent Housing with supportive services where appropriate, Prevention programs to keep people housed, and Strategies for humane response to people currently living on the streets. After soliciting community feedback, the Plan updates will be presented to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to approve the next five years of work. SV@Home continues to work closely with partners across the County to support the Community Plan and looks forward to helping with the implementation of the next phase of critical work to end homelessness in our community. For more information about the timeline and upcoming meetings to get engaged, please check out the County’s website here.

Earlier this week, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cortese also presented, and received unanimous Board approval of, his proposed new homelessness task force, based on parallel community discussions and focused on shelter and transitional housing options.

With so many important ideas on the table and discussions ongoing in different forums, we encourage people to get involved in these ongoing community conversations about how we can end homelessness County-wide.

New Affordable Homes in Santa Clara Approved!

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved a 65-unit mixed-income, mixed-ability development at 2330 Monroe St. SV@Home was proud to speak in support of the new homes, proposed by Freebird and supported by Housing Choices and the San Andreas Regional Center, which are 100% affordable and include 16 new homes for people with intellectual and development disabilities. Funding came from a variety of sources, including the City of Santa Clara and Santa Clara County, which allocated $10m to housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities last year. SV@Home looks forward to working with Housing Choices to secure additional County funding for these critical developments and thanks the City of Santa Clara for its commitment to creating new homes for people of all incomes and abilities.

San José Anti-Displacement Policy

Last week, SV@Home, Destination:Home, and the Housing Trust Silicon Valley co-hosted a discussion on the City of San José’s anti-displacement policy proposals currently moving through the community outreach process. Over 50 people participated in the discussion.

The City’s proposals are framed around a multidimensional response to displacement, which includes policies targeting the 3Ps: tenant protections, affordable housing preservation, and increased capacity for producing new affordable homes. You can find an executive summary of the current policy ideas here. The final community meeting before the proposals head to the Housing and Community Development Commission will be held next Wednesday, February 5, from 6:30-8:30 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. We invite all of our members and housing allies to join this discussion, share their ideas, and get plugged into our advocacy work as the policies move towards Council consideration in April.

Palo Alto Housing Work Plan Update

On Monday, February 3rd, the Palo Alto City Council will hold a study session on City staff’s progress implementing the City’s Housing Work Plan, originally adopted in 2018, which set a goal of approving roughly 300 new units of housing every year through 2030. In 2019, the City Council passed a number of ordinances to try to incentivize housing development, especially affordable housing developments, in key areas, including Downtown, California Avenue, and the El Camino Real corridor. According to the staff report, however, the City’s policy changes have not resulted in a meaningful increase in proposals that would put Palo Alto on track to meet its housing goals. Monday’s study session will be a chance for the Council to consider future direction for actually creating new housing opportunities in Palo Alto, especially in advance of an anticipated increase in state-mandated housing production requirements during the upcoming next RHNA cycle.

Sunnyvale Housing Strategy Study Session

On Tuesday, February 4th, the Sunnyvale City Council will hold a study session on the preliminary Housing Strategy policy recommendations.  The Housing Strategy Study was proposed to research the overall local housing context given a growing concern about mobilehome park preservation, and housing affordability and availability in Sunnyvale. After a year of outreach and research, the City Council will review draft policy recommendations and provide general feedback prior to the draft Housing Strategy being finalized. The staff presentation will be available to view Monday, February 3rd here. We expect the draft Housing Strategy to be available for further review in mid-March. In the meantime, SV@Home and its partners in Sunnyvale, including Livable Sunnyvale and Greenbelt Alliance, will continue to work with city staff and elected officials to craft a Strategy that incentivizes further affordable housing development city-wide.