With the focus on this year’s Presidential election, a historic matter before the voters of Santa Clara County buried at the end of the ballot has received little notice. Measure A creates a bond that will finance the construction of $950 million of low income housing. Over $700m will be targeted for providing “extremely low income housing”, which serves the neediest members of our community.
Without government intervention the free market will not provide for housing for the extremely poor. Accordingly we must either take action or decide as a society that it is acceptable to have people sleeping under bridges and in the street. While we in the technology community appropriately celebrate the tremendous improvements in society created by the tech economy, one downside is the massive increase in the cost of living in our area. This is particularly impactful on the most vulnerable members of our community as it has become increasingly difficult to find any affordable housing. Tragically this includes a group of children who deserve the opportunity to succeed in school and life. Without a roof over their heads, how can these young people stand a chance in today’s competitive world?
Measure A is not just an attempt to just throw money at the problem. The bond measure comes after years of effort by homeless advocates including Destination Home a public-private partnership dedicated to ending homelessness in Santa Clara County. Destination Home has helped coordinate the spending of low income housing dollars coming into Santa Clara County to assure that the these dollars are spent with maximum effectiveness. Guided by the ethos of Silicon Valley, these efforts have been driven by data. A system has been created to ensure that housing dollars can be allocated to the neediest people in our community. An economic study has demonstrated that investing in low income housing actually saves the community money. The incentives necessary to create low income housing are materially less costly than the police and hospital services that the chronically homeless consume when insufficient housing is available. However, without an adequate supply of low income housing, even the most efficient systems will not provide shelter for all of those who need it. Given the size of the homeless population, additional housing supply is the only solution if we desire to end homelessness in our community.
The Bay Area is currently experiencing an incredible period of human advancement that many compare to Florence during the Renaissance. Is it not the true test of a community how the most vulnerable members of our society are treated? Measure A provides us the opportunity to lead the way in providing housing for our brothers and sisters who are unable to provide for themselves. It deserves our support on Election Day.
If you live in Santa Clara County, please make sure you find Measure A (it will be on the 3rd card of your absentee ballot) and vote YES. Please “Don’t Stop At The Top” of your ballot — find Measure A and please vote Yes.