Measure V will build essential affordable housing
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.