Today is the Bay Area’s “media blitz” on homelessness, as reporters, editors, and columnists from around the region use diverse media channels to shed a light on the current state of homelessness in the Bay Area.
As the convening group of civic, business, development and advocacy leaders tackling Silicon Valley’s housing crisis, SV@Home joins the many voices today in agreement that addressing homelessness and our housing crisis isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also critical to the South Bay’s economic health and community vitality.
Throughout the year, we read reports and stories of the challenges people face in living in this high-cost area. We also come face to face with the reality of homelessness, as we pass by people sleeping in doorways, carrying their belongings on their backs as they walk down the street, or sometimes setting up camp near our businesses or homes. Businesses and community members alike directly feel the impact of people living outside, on our streets, and along our waterways.
We know there is a problem. We acknowledge it. But we don’t always know the solution or what role we might play in responding. Today, rather than speak to the problem and the numbers, our focus is action and engagement.
First, it is important to recognize that progress is being made. While other communities in California experienced increases in homelessness over the two-year period between 2013 and 2015, the number of homeless residents in Santa Clara County reduced by 14%. This didn’t happen by accident, but was possible because the community changed the way it responds to homelessness — by removing silos and forming partnerships that focused on results.
This is great progress. However, there are still more than 6,500 people who find themselves without a place to live on any given night in Santa Clara County. And, with the Bay Area’s out-of-sight housing costs, more and more people are at risk of homelessness.
We can continue driving progress on homelessness and housing in our region. Here are a few key ways you — as community and business leaders — can make a difference.
1. Affordable housing bond.
Throw your support behind the $950 million bond measure that the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors placed on the November ballot that includes $700 million in funding for homeless residents and those at risk of homelessness. Give money, give your endorsement, give your time. This bond measure is a game changer that will enable the development of thousands of new units that we need to respond to our housing and homeless crisis. One fact is certain: We cannot solve homelessness without housing. And the development community can’t build housing that is affordable for the homeless without subsidies.
2. Be vocal in your support for new housing development.
Actively support new affordable developments in your community and oppose petitions and actions that aim to stop development from moving forward. Your voice matters, and you can make a difference by supporting local policy makers in making the right decisions.
3. Contribute to the Solution
Businesses and community members routinely give financial support to the many good groups that are working to end homelessness in our community, encourage their employees to give back through community service, and match employee contributions to homeless shelter and service agencies. We encourage you to keep giving. But we also ask you to think creatively about other ways of contributing, like direct investment in affordable housing development, donating land for affordable housing development, or supporting policies and legislation that promote the development of new housing.
SV@Home is working with our many business and civic partners in the South Bay to respond to the need for safe, stable and affordable homes. We believe that together, we can — and must — drive solutions for our housing and homeless crisis.
Leslye Corsiglia is the executive director of SV@Home, Silicon Valley’s voice for affordable housing. She has more than 30 years of experience developing and directing housing programs in support of homeless and low-income communities at the state and local level. As executive director of SV@Home, Leslye works with a broad membership group spanning business, civic and advocacy interests united behind driving solutions for our region’s housing crisis.