We’re still in the midst of challenging times, with too many families struggling to get by and much work to do. But when working toward long-term solutions to ensure homelessness is rare, brief and nonrecurring, we must celebrate the signs of hope.
The finishing touches are being made to Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments, where 63 elderly homeless men and women will finally have a healthy and affordable home this summer.
In fact, four new 100% affordable housing developments–funded with the County’s historic Measure A housing bond–will become home to 411 households this year, with another six scheduled to begin construction. And in related news, plans are moving forward for Los Altos’ first 100% affordable housing community which will create nearly 100 new homes.
Here’s why this matters–housing ends homelessness, and the Measure A bond has been a major driver in creating new deeply affordable and supportive homes throughout Santa Clara County. The funding source was approved by voters in 2016 and is ahead of schedule in meeting 10-year goals, which means more new homes for those who don’t have them, and sooner.
How Housing Ends Homelessness
The number of people experiencing homelessness continues to grow due to a severe lack of affordable housing–particularly for our lowest income and most vulnerable neighbors. Two types of affordable housing are proven effective in reversing cycles of homelessness: deeply affordable and supportive housing.
We all feel the pain of our region’s housing crisis. But for those living on extremely low incomes (ELI)–less than $50,000 per year for a family of four–the consistent lack of available housing is resulting in periods of homelessness.
The largest gap of available housing is at these deepest affordability levels. The latest research shows there’s just 29 affordable and available units for every 100 ELI renter households in Santa Clara County, and this shortage disproportionately impacts minority households, who are far more likely to fall in the ELI category than white households.
Supportive housing, which matches on-site wraparound services with affordable homes, is proven to provide safe and stable housing for those who are struggling with homelessness. Supportive housing programs range from interim to permanent, addressing both short- and long-term needs.
More than ⅔ of the Measure A bond funds are dedicated to the creation of this successful type of affordable housing. In fact, all four of the Measure A-funded developments set to open this year include permanent supportive housing, responding to the ongoing needs of our chronically homeless neighbors. The coordinated efforts of the Santa Clara County Supportive Housing System have resulted in the doubling of supportive housing units in the past five years.
Spurring More Affordable Housing Development
Through our Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund, we are aligning private, philanthropic investments with proven solutions for reducing and preventing homelessness. Since its creation in 2018, the fund has invested more than $30 million to spur the development of more deeply affordable and supportive housing.
The truth is a “market solution” to fill the extreme gap of deeply affordable housing doesn’t exist. Market conditions make it financially infeasible for most private, market-rate developers to construct housing that’s affordable for ELI households. And creating supportive housing requires a unique combination of development and management experience, in order to provide the wraparound services residents need to support their housing stability.
Our Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund provides early financing in new supportive and extremely low income housing, which can unlock new development opportunities, as it has for 20 apartments with nearly 2,000 units. Calabazas Community Apartments pictured here is one example, set to create homes for 145 households this fall.
The Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund is generously supported by Cisco and Apple.
How You Can Help
The Housing Ready Communities initiative builds support for the development of affordable housing, impactful policy reform and other proven solutions to prevent and end homelessness. We invite you to join us in taking action when it counts. Join the Housing Ready Communities Action Network today.
And what better time to get involved than Affordable Housing Month, which falls in May. Our partners SV@Home are organizing a packed schedule of learning opportunities.
Here are a few dates we suggest saving:
May 12, 6pm: Housing Ready Communities Action Meeting to learn about housing and policy advocacy opportunities and connect with partners and supporters.
May 13, 5pm: Virtual Affordable Housing Tour with the County Office of Supportive Housing.
May 17, 5pm: 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness Progress Update