Homelessness Is at a Crisis Stage

Supervisor Approve 10 Other Items That Boost Shelter, Housing and Services in County

Santa Clara / CALIFORNIA

With unanimous approval of a resolution that declares homelessness in Santa Clara County a crisis, the Board of Supervisors sent a message to other cities and agencies in the County to consider doing the same and then explore options for increasing affordable housing in response to the crisis.

The unanimous vote on the resolution was one of 11 actions taken at the Tuesday, January 12, meeting related to programs and projects helping the estimated 6,500 homeless men, women and children in the County. Many of the actions, including the resolution, were recommendations from the Housing Task Force, which finished its work last month. Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Mike Wasserman served on the Task Force.

“Facing the challenges of homeless must be a shared responsibility in order to make progress in housing and sheltering the 4,000 or so who, each night, have nowhere to go,” said Board President Dave Cortese. “We hope this resolution will prompt all our cities and agencies to take similar action and pursue policy changes to raise revenue for affordable housing.”

That was the intention of the Housing Task Force when it also resolved that the problems of homelessness in San Jose constitute a crisis in October 2012.  Among the policy solutions the Task Force members would like cities to consider:  Inclusionary Zoning, which requires housing developers to offer a percentage of units at a lower cost than market rate; Residential or Commercial Fees, which developers pay to create funding for affordable housing; ballot initiatives for tax measures; setting aside surplus land for affordable housing; and zoning changes that would allow second units on existing lots, tiny homes and protecting existing affordable housing, such as mobile homes.

Among the other Board-approved items related to housing and homelessness:

·Allocate $2.9 million over three years to the Emergency Assistance Network, a collaboration of seven non-profit service providers, to help an additional 400 families avoid homelessness through help with rent and bills.

·Purchase a Microhouse on Wheels for the Office of Supportive Housing to evaluate for use in a “homeless village.” The cost of the microhouse is $10,000, and was proposed as a housing solution by the Gilroy Compassion Center. The OHS has also issued a Request for Proposals for a non-profit to manage a homeless village as part of a partnership with the City of San Jose.

·Loan Abode Services $1.1 million to make necessary repairs to the Santa Clara Inn, 2188 The Alameda, San Jose, to create 56 units of housing for homeless. This project is a partnership with Abode Services and the City of San Jose.

·Allocate $240,000 a year for three years to the Housing Trust Silicon Valley for Destination: Home to provide grants to help keep individuals and families housed by offering employment, education and wellness services; also, $50,000 a year for three years to help newly housed homeless people with the cost of household items and furniture; and $25,000 a year as part of the cost or hiring a coordinator for the campaign to end homeless veterans.  The Board previously authorized about $1.5 million in ongoing funding for the campaign, shelter and housing for homeless veterans.

· Allocate $750,000 to the Housing Trust to administer loans or grants to community and faith-based organizations to repair or expand their facilities for drop-in services or shelter beds for homeless.

For more information:

Contact the Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese at 408-299-5030