A Proposition to House the Homeless

“The need for affordable housing in this county and Gilroy in particular is tremendous,” began Jennifer Loving, the director of Destination: Home, the San Jose-based nonprofit that has successfully championed housing-first solutions for the region’s homeless and is one of nearly 100 organizations across the county that have endorsed Measure A.

The $950 million bond would fund affordable housing in the county, and was unanimously placed on the ballot by the county Board of Supervisors as a way to mitigate the region’s housing crisis by freeing up money for the acquisition or improvement of real property and first-time homebuyer programs.

A countywide poll conducted earlier this year found two-thirds of likely voters would support a measure that built affordable and supportive housing for homeless, seniors, low-income families and other vulnerable populations.

At last count in 2015, there were 439 homeless residents in Gilroy, up from 379 two years earlier.

Gilroy Mayor Perry Woodward, who endorses the measure and is one of more than 130 individuals across the county to do so, said the way Measure A funds are used is largely up to the community.

“It allows flexibility for cities to devise their own course on how they spend the money,” he said, adding that the money toward supportive housing for the city’s homeless would help address public safety issues as well, resulting in fewer quality-of-life calls fielded by Gilroy police.

“We can focus a lot more on community policing,” he said.

The $950 million in general obligation bonds would result in $700 million to be spent on the county’s most vulnerable populations, including supportive housing for the homeless; $100 million for low-income families; and $150 million for working families and first-time homebuyer programs.

The annual cost over 30 years to property owners would be about $12.60 per $100,000 in assessed property value, according to the San JoseMercury News this summer.

Thanks in large part to the advocacy work done by Loving and support from county representatives who spearheaded a housing task force that spurred the measure, there has been momentum in recent years to find lasting solutions to chronic homelessness and home insecurity in a region with rising home prices and a housing supply that cannot keep pace with increasing demand.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, a five-member council (Cat Tucker and Roland Velasco were absent) voiced its support for the measure, with Councilman Peter Leroe-Muñoz saying the monies set aside for first time homebuyer programs would help the young workers who flock to Silicon Valley technology companies, many of whom he is in direct contact with during his day job as Vice-President of Technology & Innovation Policy for the industry lobby group, Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“We are in a housing crisis,” said Loving. “Here is a solution.”

Measure A needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

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