Mea­sure V will build es­sen­tial af­ford­able hous­ing

The Mercury News Weekend - - OPINION - By Les­lye Cor­siglia Les­lye Cor­siglia is the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of SV@Home, the voice for af­ford­able hous­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

San Jose has an in­dis­putable hous­ing cri­sis.

Mea­sure V will re­store much needed fund­ing to build es­sen­tial af­ford­able hous­ing.

Gone are the days when a San Jose res­i­dent could grad­u­ate from col­lege, buy a starter home, work for 30 years, pay off that mort­gage and re­tire. The av­er­age per­son with a 9-to-5 job can sim­ply no longer af­ford to buy much less rent a home. And even fam­i­lies work­ing two jobs are strug­gling to af­ford one de­cent place to live.

We are los­ing our mid­dle class in San Jose — and we are be­com­ing a city of the very rich and the very poor. Our teach­ers, paramedics, nurses, po­lice of­fi­cers, fire­fight­ers and the many other work­ers who keep a city work­ing are be­ing forced out of the city they love. We aren’t just los­ing our long­time neigh­bors — we’re los­ing the heart and soul of our city.

What does our lack of af­ford­able hous­ing mean for San Jose?

Some of our neigh­bors with the means will move — fam­i­lies that have been here their whole lives will be forced to leave. How­ever, low-in­come house­holds have fewer op­tions. Th­ese fam­i­lies re­sort to over­crowd­ing, over­pay­ing and liv­ing in places they shouldn’t like garages, at­tics, cars or worse — liv­ing on our streets. In fact, in 2017 Ap­plied Sur­vey Re­search es­ti­mated that 74 per­cent of all San Jose home­less res­i­dents are un­shel­tered — one of the largest per- cen­t­ages of un­shel­tered home­less res­i­dents in the coun­try.

Our hous­ing cri­sis has led to our city be­com­ing the least af­ford­able met­ro­pol­i­tan area in the en­tire coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Zil­low. There are a num­ber of fac­tors for this. For one, San Jose has added a tremen­dous num­ber of jobs — our econ­omy is boom­ing. But when we keep ad­ding jobs with­out ad­ding hous­ing units to meet the grow­ing de­mand, San Jose res­i­dents suf­fer.

There was a time when San Jose was in the busi­ness of build­ing hous­ing, but we lost our big­gest source of af­ford­able hous­ing rev­enue dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion. While I was direc­tor of hous­ing for the city, we built 18,000 new af­ford­able hous­ing units. We used to have $40 mil- lion a year in San Jose alone that was avail­able to pro­vide fund­ing to build and fi­nance de­vel­op­ment for mid­dle-class and low-in­come res­i­dents. But those re­sources aren’t here any­more.

The hous­ing cri­sis is so se­vere and the so­lu­tion is so clear that Mea­sure V has al­ready at­tracted a rare bi­par­ti­san coali­tion in sup­port of the mea­sure. The few op­po­nents say that this mea­sure will cost us in the short run, but they ig­nore the re­al­ity that Mea­sure V will lever­age sig­nif­i­cant sources of fund­ing from the state and fed­eral govern­ments and we will get about $3 for ev­ery $1 we in­vest. And cer­tainly, any fo­cus on cost needs to also ad­dress the cost of do­ing noth­ing, in­clud­ing the sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial drain on leav­ing home­less res­i­dents on our streets and in our creeks.

Mea­sure V will make room for the “miss­ing mid­dle” — like teach­ers, nurses and paramedics, res­i­dents who are con­sid­ered mid­dle-in­come but can’t af­ford to rent a $3,500 two-bed­room apart­ment. Mea­sureVwill make room for res­i­dents on a fixed in­come, se­niors, vet­er­ans, for the dis­abled. And it will help home­less res­i­dents who need safe and sta­ble hous­ing.

Let’s work to­gether to grow our mid­dle class and build more af­ford­able hous­ing to keep our neigh­bors, friends, chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in San Jose.

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