Measure A: A Cindy Chavez Op-ed

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Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to present a $950 million affordable housing bond on the November 8 ballot, Measure A.

Recent polling shows that county voters believe housing is the most pressing problem today, higher even than crime and transportation. Also, 83 percent agree that it is difficult to find housing in Santa Clara County. More specifically, 76 percent believe that children deserve the opportunity to succeed in school and life, and that Measure A will provide affordable homes for the hundreds of homeless children and their families living in shelters, cars or on the streets.

With a very low vacancy rate for apartments and rents climbing higher and higher, we have a major imbalance between the number of jobs the Valley produces and the number of housing units being built. One study found that Santa Clara County has the fewest housing units compared to jobs of the nine Bay Area counties.

The lack of affordable housing also means that our homeless population is growing. Last year we had 6,500 people without housing, including 4,500 who were unsheltered, or living on the streets and under overpasses. More than 2200 of them are chronically homeless, with more women than men experiencing that.

Our county spends $520 million—half a billion dollars—each year to provide services to our homeless population, the fourth highest in the USA. Your taxes pay for that. End homelessness, and we will save millions.

Measure A is a $950 million affordable housing bond that will build thousands of dwellings for homeless families, low-income seniors, veterans and victims of abuse. Apartment buildings will also house government and nonprofit agencies to provide supportive services such as health clinics, job training and substance abuse counseling.

Too many of our neighbors—immigrants and low-income working families—often have to work two or three jobs just to pay the rent, or they have to live with several families in one apartment or even in a garage. More than half of Latino renters and homeowners struggle to pay their rent and mortgages. Because of the great gulf between income and housing costs, many Latino families face foreclosures, evictions and homelessness.

That’s why passing Measure A is so important. In the struggle against the disease of homelessness, housing is the cure. With your help and votes, we can get people and families out of their cars and RVs, out from under the overpasses, freed from having to surf couches, and into safe, clean houses, their houses. When Measure A passes, with your votes, our neighbors’ children can grow and thrive in safe surroundings and have healthier childhoods, free from the insecurity and illnesses unhoused kids suffer.

That’s government in action, helping people, protecting them from disease, destitution and despair. Think of a time when there is housing for all our homeless neighbors. Think of life in Santa Clara County after Measure A passes. It will make your heart sing.