May 24, 2016

Silicon Valley Business Journal: SV@Home unveils official policy positions on affordable housing


Silicon Valley Business Journal reporter Bryce Druzin covered SV@Home’s policy breakfast during Affordable Housing Week 2016.

See the original story at the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

SV@Home unveils official policy positions on affordable housing

by Bryce Druzin

Almost a year after its founding, affordable housing group SV@Home released its official policy recommendations on Friday.

“The ‘road map’ is our guide to where our organization is going to focus to be able to move the needle on affordable housing,” said Leslye Corsiglia, executive director of SV@Home, which officially formed in June 2015. The recommendations were unveiled in front of over 200 people at Microsoft’s Mountain View campus.

SV@Home seeks to be the lead voice on affordable housing in Santa Clara County, and increasing supply is the overriding concern of the group. Policies recommended include requiring 20 percent of units in residential and mixed-use developments be affordable, countywide adoption of Housing Impact and Commercial Linkage Fees, and loosening restrictions on secondary units (also known as “in-law units”).

The organization was created by a coalition of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Housing Trust Silicon Valley and the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California. Corsiglia is a former director of San Jose’s housing department, and its chairman is former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, who heads the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. Member organizations come from a wide range of interests and include developers, labor, nonprofits, builders as well as Google.

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Corsiglia told the Business Journal that while there’s widespread agreement in the larger community about the need for more affordable housing, “there’s not agreement … if they want affordable housing in their neighborhood.”

Part of SV@Home’s mission will be to fight what Corsiglia called “myths,” particularly prejudices many people have about residents who live in affordable units.

“They’re not graffiti artists, they’re not going to rob your house,” she said. “They’re people who work in our community … They just don’t make the income required to pay the median rent.”

She also said people are mistaken to think more housing means more traffic.

The report states that 209,000 workers commute into the county each day, while only 109,000 commute out, citing 2015 California Employment Development Department data.

“Some of it is they can’t afford to live here, but a lot of it is inadequate supply,” said Corsiglia, arguing that the lack of housing creates traffic.

Though preservation of existing affordable housing is one of the group’s recommendations, SV@Home has not taken a policy position regarding rent control, a hot topic in Mountain View and San Jose.

Corsiglia said that was an intentional decision when the organization was first created.

“We’re new and it’s a polarizing issue,” she said. “And as we’re getting our message out, it didn’t feel like it was an area where we should jump into.”