San Jose speeds up affordable housing production through partnership

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — It’s no secret it’s a challenge to build affordable housing in San Jose, but over the last few years, the city has looked for ways to expedite that process. 

Over the last three years, the city of San Jose and Destination: Home partnered to reduce the planning review time of proposals for extremely low income (ELI) and supportive housing developments.

“We came to a realization that the best thing that we can do was funding a planner who’d be dedicated to getting these specific projects approved and it worked.”

“We got over a dozen projects that have gone through this process of 1,200 plus homes and we saw reduction in time.”

Since spring 2018, the pilot program has expedited extremely-low income and supportive housing projects by more than 20%, the city reports. 

Through this facilitated process, city planning staff have conducted 14 extremely low-income and supportive housing proposals, representing 1,270 affordable units. 

“Thanks to the collaboration between Destination: Home and the City of San José, we now have a more efficient and effective timeline to enhance the financial feasibility of affordable housing projects,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo in a press release. 

“This streamlined process will create new access for developers and life-changing homes for our unhoused neighbors.”

Courtesy: National Low Income Housing Coalition’s March 2021 “A Shortage of Affordable Homes” report. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region areas as one of the metropolitan area with less than the national average of affordable and available units per 100 households at or below the extremely low income (ELI) threshold.

And now, the city and Destination: Home will continue its partnership. 

Destination: Home will renew its $540,000 in funding for another three years to continue expediting the review process and other actions related to speeding up affordable housing production. 

“We’re all in it together and the partnership with the city of San Jose planning department represents one spoke in a wheel.”

“Once we get the city, the county, housing authority, residents, developers and organizations like Destination: Home all on the same and rowing in the same direction, we see really tremendous results.” 

Destination: Home is also leading other similar efforts within Santa Clara County by providing a capacity-building grant to the city of Morgan Hill for their 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness. 

The capacity-building grants made to the city of San Jose were funded through Destination: Home’s Supportive Housing Innovation Fund and by major philanthropic contributions from Cisco and Apple. 

“The only way to truly end homelessness is to provide people permanent places to live and the faster that we can get housing approved using these great sources of funds we have from our partners from the city and county and the state.”

“The better off everyone in our community is going to be.”

Currently, there are six more affordable housing projects under review with many other projects in a preliminary phase, the city says. 

The city’s Housing Catalyst program recently launched a new Housing Site Explorer Map to help affordable housing developers identify potential development sites. 

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