We know that solving homelessness will require smart public policies that advance proven solutions and get to the root causes of our crisis. While our public policy and advocacy work encompasses a wide range of issues, a major focus is on accelerating the development of more supportive and deeply affordable housing in our community.
Advocating for Housing First Strategies
We know that housing solves homelessness, but for far too long, our community has not properly invested in permanent housing for our most vulnerable residents. At Destination: Home we continue to advocate for the “Housing First” strategies that prioritize connecting our homeless neighbors to permanent housing.
Thanks in part to our advocacy:
- In 2015, the Santa Clara County Continuum of Care officially adopted the Housing First approach and centered the first countywide Community Plan to End Homelessness around a goal to connect 6,000 homeless individuals to permanent housing.
- The 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond is primarily focused on permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness – with 3,400 of the envisioned 4,800 new units allocated towards Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing.
- The Santa Clara County Housing Authority adopted a policy aligning its Project Based Voucher allocation criteria to support the production of more permanent supportive housing units.
- In 2018, the City of Mountain View adopted an affordable housing investment strategy that included a benchmark to create 200-250 permanent supportive or rapid rehousing units.
- In 2023, Destination: Home led a broad coalition in opposing a drastic proposal to redirect tens-of-millions of dollars in Measure E funds in San Jose away from affordable housing development, and succesffully convinced the San Jose City Council to preserve the vast majority of funding to affordable housing production, as had been intended when Measure E was adopted by the voters.
Prioritizing Extremely Low Income Housing
While our region suffers from an overall lack of affordable housing, ending homelessness in our community will require more affordable housing that serves our lowest-income residents. Yet, this critically-needed type of housing remains among the most underproduced segments of our affordable housing inventory.
As a result, Destination: Home has ardently advocated for elected leaders to adopt policies that specifically prioritize the development of more Extremely Low Income (ELI) housing units, which serve the lowest-income residents in our community with the greatest risks of homelessness.
As a result of our advocacy:
- In April 2019, the City of San Jose adopted a first-of-its-kind affordable housing investment policy that allocates 45% of its total affordable housing funds towards ELI housing production. At the time of its adoption, the new investment policy was projected to generate an additional $80 million in funding for ELI housing over the next five years.
- Following the lead of the City of San Jose, the Santa Clara County Housing Authority set a goal to ensure that 45% of the housing units in its own housing development portfolio were reserved for Extremely Low Income households.
We know that lengthy and often cumbersome development processes can greatly slow down the pace of new affordable housing development, which is why Destination: Home continues to advocate for local and state laws that streamline affordable housing development.
As a part of this work:
- We joined statewide partners in successfully advocating for new landmark streamlining laws – AB 2162 & SB 35 – which have helped eliminate several layers of government review for permanent supportive housing and affordable housing projects that meet certain criteria.
- We led a coalition of our non-profit supportive housing developers in advocating the City of San Jose to eliminate its commercial space requirements for 100% affordable housing developments. In December 2021, the San Jose City Council unanimously voted to approve the proposal, removing a significant barrier to new affordable housing development.