By Jared Brey.
If you live in a major American city, chances are your housing market has increasingly limited options for affordable living, and your elected officials are starting to acknowledge it as a problem — maybe even a crisis. If you live in San Jose, the biggest city in the San Francisco Bay Area and the self-proclaimed “Capital of Silicon Valley,” a shortage of affordable housing has been your reality for a long time.
“We’ve always had a challenge in the South Bay, especially in Silicon Valley, because we have been over-producing jobs and under-producing housing,” says Leslye Corsiglia, executive director of the housing advocacy group SV@Home and a former director of housing for the City of San Jose. “It’s gotten worse along the way, but it’s always been a problem. I would say it’s been a problem for the last 20 years.”
The explosive growth of the tech industry was never accompanied by proper planning for new housing, Corsiglia says.
“So as a result, we’ve just seen longer and longer commutes, overcrowding, overpayment, a lot of 50-somethings who are having to get roommates — things that people didn’t expect to be doing,” she says.
This fall, San Jose voters will be asked to open a new front in the fight for affordable housing with one of the biggest local housing bond initiatives in recent memory. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the city council finalized the terms of a $450 million bond referendum that would direct money to affordable housing production and preservation at three different income levels, promising to create up to 3,550 units of new affordable housing in the city. The bond follows on the heels of a $900 million bond approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2016 to address homelessness. It will require approval by two-thirds of voters on the November ballot.