Los Gatos Weekly Times
Los Gatos-based coalition creates new rental assistance program
Bay Area residents can apply for a one-time subsidy of $300-$500
The Los Gatos Anti-racism Coalition is launching a rental assistance program to provide emergency support to neighbors across the Bay Area who are at risk of eviction.
Coalition founder Jeff Suzuki said the housing crisis has made the area even less socioeconomically and racially diverse, and has made some residents more at risk for homelessness.
“When we started this program, we asked the question: If we had $1 to spend right now, where would it be the most effective in preventing additional cases of homelessness?” Suzuki said. “These are people who are living check to check where an unexpected increase in their expenditures might actually put them out on the street. And that's the reality of a lot of people who become homeless.”
A study from University of California San Francisco that surveyed homeless people across the state found that 70% of those surveyed believed a monthly payment of $300$500 would have prevented their homelessness.
Taking that idea, the coalition aims to intervene before someone gets evicted, giving them a onetime subsidy of $300-$500. To qualify, applicants must either be unemployed, have recently received an eviction notice, have an “extraordinary, non-routine expenditure” or had their rent raised unexpectedly.
Anyone in the Bay Area can apply, and Suzuki said he and the coalition review the applications and award payments to those in need as soon as possible.
“It's a $300 to $500 subsidy to those who have experienced some unfortunate complication in their lives,” he added. “It might be them being laid off, it might be an unexpected expenditure, like a car repair that they need to get to work … or a medical expenditure.”
The money comes from fundraising efforts in the community, and anyone can donate online. So far, the coalition has raised $3,500 and hopes to reach $15,000 soon. The coalition recently achieved nonprofit status and is already applying for grants and other sources of funding, Suzuki said.
Suzuki, a former Los Gatos planning commissioner and current complete streets and transportation commissioner, said he advocated for the coalition to tackle the housing crisis in Los Gatos and beyond.
Los Gatos is a predominantly White, wealthy community, with White residents making up threequarters of the population — well above Santa Clara County's population of 49% of White residents. Its median household income is $166,642, compared to the county's median income of $140,258, Census data shows.
Without intervention, Suzuki says Los Gatos will continue to push out longtime residents who can't keep up with rising rents. Renters in Los Gatos pay 22% more than renters in San Jose, with the median monthly rental prices in the town of 30,000 sitting at $3,975 compared to $3,260 in San Jose, according to Zillow.
“An anti-racism coalition that exists within the town has to absolutely address housing issues,” Suzuki said.