San José plans to build social housing throughout the city
Residents of San José may soon see affordable housing appear in unexpected neighborhoods, thanks to a new policy that will expand developments to multiple units in the city.
The San José city council voted unanimously on Tuesday in favor of a plan that distributes the development of affordable housing in places close to public transport and with upward mobility. City officials promise to return no later than June 2022 with an update on the policy’s results.
“We know we need affordable housing being built at a much higher rate. We know we need it all over the city, ”said board member Raul Peralez. “There shouldn’t be exclusive neighborhoods with particular incomes.”
Peralez, along with council members Sergio Jimenez and Maya Esparza, lobbied for the policy, saying the city needs to more evenly distribute affordable housing developments for low-income residents. The trio also lobbied to redefine the city’s “high crime” neighborhoods in the plan as those with the highest 10% crime instead of the highest 5%, which the three say leaves no stone unturned. side several neighborhoods.
“I wanted it to stay real, to be rooted in the experience and the realities we face on the pitch,” Esparza said. “The methodology does not match the experience of the community, it does not match the experience of the police department, and furthermore, it does not match the experience of the city. Many communities that suffer from the worst violent crimes in my district are excluded. “
Mayor Sam Liccardo supports the plan, but worries about unintended consequences, including the increase in the cost of affordable housing.
“I think it’s going to be difficult,” Liccardo said. “I’m also concerned that we are getting to a point where we see that we are increasing the cost of building affordable housing, and I know that this is undermining our efforts just to build affordable housing… Hopefully what we will learn is this. t is that there are many builders ready to go and we are ready to finance them.
The move comes amid a housing crisis where the city has yet to build 25,000 homes according to its stated 2023 target and a housing segregation issue that has divided the city along racial and socio-economic lines. economic – problems that the affordable housing policy seeks to resolve.
“It’s clear that we need more affordable housing in every neighborhood in San Jose,” said Aaron Eckhouse, policy manager at California YIMBY. “But we also know that housing segregation is worse than when the Fair Housing Law was passed 50 years ago and San José itself remains deeply segregated. The policy proposed by the staff can advance equitable housing in San José. “
The plan divides San Jose into three categories to prioritize where to build affordable housing based on poverty and crime rates. The policy aims to finance housing in areas with low rates of poverty and crime, as well as wealthy areas that currently have a small percentage of affordable housing.
According to a report on the Affordable Housing Plan, the first category includes neighborhoods “associated with upward mobility, educational attainment, physical and mental health and other positive outcomes, especially for children” such as West and North San Jose. Only 9% of the affordable housing planned or already built in the city is located in these affluent neighborhoods.
The second category prioritizes areas at high risk of displacement with low levels of poverty and crime, including Alum Rock and Communications Hill. The third category targets areas also at high risk of displacement with more poverty or crime, including downtown San Jose, Monterey Road between Alma and Curtner Avenue and Meadowfair.
Development will mainly focus on the first two categories, what the city calls “resource rich” areas.
The development of affordable housing is historically uneven and concentrated in the less affordable areas of the city. Building collective housing is also difficult: only 6% of the city’s residential land is zoned for collective housing.
There are also racial disparities between the three categories. White and Asian residents make up 81% of the first, wealthiest category, while Latino and black residents together account for 15%. In the less affluent category, white and Asian residents make up 48% of the population, while Latino and black residents make up 47%.
“It is not enough to say that we are focused on fairness… and then not to support policies that overturn some of the more racist policies that have created generational poverty,” said Council member Sylvia Arenas. “We are focused on politics and this is by far one of the most important and most important in eliminating some of the racial segregation and creating generational poverty.”
Although residents fear the increased development will impact their homeownership rates, these claims are unfounded according to the report. A 10-year research study of 122 low-income developments in San Jose showed that the values of homes within 2,000 feet of new homes rose at the same rate as homes further away.
Still, residents and real estate experts fear the policy will exclude other types of housing, such as group homes, homeless shelters and temporary transitional housing. Some want the city to differentiate between affordable housing and supportive housing, developments with mental health services and on-site supports such as Renascent Place.
“What about developments that already have supportive housing? Because we have such a big city and we have different neighborhoods, having three categories makes each category very broad, ”said council member Dev Davis, adding that the categories do not meet the needs of residents. supportive housing.
City officials say they are looking for solutions to ensure resources such as emergency services will not be overburdened by policy due to emergency calls in supportive housing developments.
“There is a difference between affordable housing and supportive housing,” said resident Tina Morrill. “Supportive housing is unique because of the needs and also the impact on the neighborhood. We want to house people as quickly as possible, but it has to be done well. “
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.