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Speeding Up Production of Deeply Affordable Housing

Through a pilot project with the City of San José, we are reducing the planning review time of extremely low income (ELI) and supportive housing developments by more than 20%, moving these much-needed developments into production an average of two months faster.

Silicon Valley has long suffered from a dramatic shortage of affordable homes, particularly at the lowest income levels. So to help ramp up production of homes serving the extremely low-income population, Destination: Home provided a capacity-building grant to the City’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement (PBCE) Department to fund a planner dedicated to expediting the review of proposals for affordable housing developments.

Since spring 2018, City planning staff have shepherded 14 extremely low income and supportive housing proposals through the planning review process, representing 1,270 affordable units.

Projects that went through this facilitated process from beginning to end secured approval within nine months on average, compared to 11 months for projects that went through the normal process.

This shaved two months off the production timeline.

Based on these promising results, Destination: Home will be renewing $540,000 in funding for the dedicated planner role for another three years. 

“Thanks to the collaboration between Destination: Home and the City of San José, we now have a more efficient and effective timeline to enhance the financial feasibility of affordable housing projects,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This streamlined process will create new access for developers, and life-changing homes for our unhoused neighbors.”

PATH Venture’s 4th and East Younger Apartments is a project that completed San José’s planning review process in under six months. The permanent supportive housing community is now in construction and will become home to nearly 100 seniors next year.

“In cities across the state we have experienced how proposed supportive housing developments can get bogged down in the approval process, wasting time and money,” said Joel John Roberts, CEO of PATH and PATH Ventures. “But in San José, we were able to get approval relatively quickly to build two ELI housing developments, resulting in getting people off the streets quicker and more cost-efficiently.”

MidPen’s Immanuel-Sobrato Community, is another beneficiary of this expedited process, with 108 permanent supportive homes on track to open in 2022.

“MidPen’s Immanuel-Sobrato Community benefited greatly from having a Planner with the City of San Jose who was dedicated to supporting the review and entitlements processing,” shared Helen Tong-Ishikawa, Senior Project Manager for MidPen Housing Corporation. “Our Planner’s support and creative thinking helped streamline and prioritize the review and approval process for supportive housing developments like ours. These time savings allowed the planning process to go as quickly as possible as we worked toward our shared goal to build deeply affordable housing for those most in need in our community.”


Funding Impactful Strategies to End Homelessness

The capacity-building grants made to the City of San José were funded through Destination: Home’s Supportive Housing Innovation Fund. The fund was launched in partnership with Cisco in 2018 to channel private, philanthropic investments towards proven solutions for reducing and preventing homelessness.

With a combined $100 million in grants from Cisco and Apple, the fund has made strategic investments in three key areas:

  • Supportive Housing & ELI Housing Development
  • Data & Technology Utilization
  • Homelessness Prevention & Stability

And Destination: Home is replicating these efforts with other jurisdictions in Santa Clara County. We are providing a capacity-building grant to the City of Morgan Hill in their work on the 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness. The three-year partnership will enable the City to:

  • Hire a dedicated liaison on homelessness issues;
  • Develop and launch a local implementation plan for Morgan Hill with specific targets and outcomes for each of the three key Community Plan strategies; and
  • Work with the County Office of Supportive Housing to develop a local Measure A housing plan, to identify opportunities for affordable housing. 

At the end of the day, these partnerships will help get people housed sooner. And it’s critical that we continue to work together across sectors to drive the production of more deeply affordable housing and other proven interventions.