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

- By Hannah Kanik hkanik @bayareanew­sgroup.com

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.

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