County to Place $950 Million Housing Bond on Fall Ballot

Santa Clara County voters will decide the fate of a $950 million affordable housing bond this November.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted to place the initiative on the fall ballot. If approved, the measure would raise property taxes countywide to fund housing for poor and homeless residents. The tax would amount to $12.66 per $100,000 in assessed property value.

“Homelessness is at a crisis stage in our community,” Board President Dave Cortese said.

Cortese noted that the county needs stable funding to prevent low-income families from becoming homeless as rents go up and buying a home becomes virtually impossible. The plan is to provide down payments or loans for families who are trying to relocate closer to their workplace.

“For the first time in recent memory, voters see housing as the most important problem facing Santa Clara County,” Supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “The need for housing, the voters’ concern and an upcoming high turnout election have converged—this is the housing moment.”

In 2015, according to a regional point-in-time census, 6,556 homeless lived in the county—most of them unsheltered on the streets or in the creeks. That’s the fourth-largest homeless population in the nation.

Meanwhile, demand for housing far outpaces the supply, even when accounting for future development. According to the California Housing Partnership, the South Bay needs 67,576 more homes to fulfill the needs of low-income families. Regional projections show that county needs another $220 million in housing through 2022 to meet the needs of struggling families.

“In all the years that I’ve been in the private sector, I’ve never seen a time like this when the need for housing has risen to the top,” Cortese told San Jose Inside. “We set three polls in January and in all of those polls housing is identified as the number one priority ... higher than even public safety and traffic relief.”

One of those polls conducted this spring by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group found that 65 percent of likely voters would support a bond to build, buy and preserve homes for veterans, seniors, the disabled and homeless.

That survey, however, asked people if they would support a slightly lesser amount: $750 million. It also came on the heels of a report that calculated the price of homelessness down to a specific dollar amount. According to the countywide study, homelessness costs taxpayers $520 million a year for a range of services that include emergency room visits, arrests and jail stays.

43 Comments

  1. Here is some food for thought. Why should property owners provide nearly $1B in subsidies to low income and the homeless? As housing becomes less affordable believe it or not people will move to areas they can afford. With that move the labor force they supply will dry up. The result would be that wages would need to increase to retain the labor force in order for people to live closer to work or people would need to start doing the work they once paid others to do. We do not need to give another artificial incentive to not work or to not pay a fair wage.

    One Billion Dollars….give me a break.

    • I don’t see why the middle class property owners have to foot the bill for people who do not contribute to the community. It is a privilege to live in California. The tax payers aka middle class always seem to be dumped on. Go live where housing is more affordable (not meant as a pun). This doesn’t apply to senior citizens. They have earned this help since SS cannot support them.

      • Lets see what you consider middle class. I find myself working some place we really can’t afford to live and this is with both incomes! The more things go up the less money people have because they’re income doesn’t! Today’s low income families should be under $90,000 and under middle 150,000 and under. You really don’t understand how people really get by in today’s economy a college student or someone just starting out can’t afford to get a place. I feel most politicians have lost the understanding of how hard the economy really is when most of them make 2 to 3x more then regular people. The old saying you can’t know if you don’t go and do!

  2. Why doesn’t anyone talk abut the H1b Visa people that are the real reason rents in the Silicon Valley are so high??

    • Donald Trump talked about it.

      Sam Liccardo said Trump’s “rhetoric” made people angry and explained why it was understandable that people would want to disrupt Trump’s appearance and beat up his supporters.

    • Camila Lopez- While the H1B Visa folks are contributing to the housing crisis, they aren’t the real reason rents are so high. Supply and demand is the real problem, along with a whole host of other problems. Companies bringing workers in from out of State and from overseas, rather than training and hiring local workers are a huge part of the problem too. Other problems are that surrounding cities are bringing in business, but they aren’t building their fair share of housing for their employees. They have always dumped that in San Jose’s lap. (The City of Santa Clara’s newest mega mall is an example of this.)

      Also, the City of San Jose makes it more lucrative for businesses rather than housing developers to build here. Then you have the NIMBY’s, rent control, affordable housing, foreigners coming over here buying up houses for unreasonably high prices, companies like Google and Apple subsidizing employees rents, other cities sending their homeless here, universities that don’t have enough student housing/or students who go to school here but can’t afford on campus housing, our city’s ridiculous red tape for builders, building permits/fees, height requirements/restrictions due to the airport, the list of reasons for the housing shortage is endless. The bottom line is that we need to build more housing period.

      Over the past several years, residents and businesses, especially small businesses, have been leaving Silicon Valley. At some point this bubble will burst. It has happened here before, and it will happen again.

      • Kathleen – Companies can not “train and hire local workers instead of bringing them from out of state or overseas”.
        The employees that come from other states and overseas are highly educated individuals, ones who invested both time and money in higher education in order to acquire knowledge and skills. The high tech industry relies on these smart people, as they’re their most valuable resource.
        R&D companies are so abundant here because California has wisely been offering very generous R&D tax credit.
        Companies offer top money to talented educated employees, and the bay area has become one of the top socio-demographic areas in the country, which is a good thing for most people. Salaries here are higher not only in the R&D industry, but also in other industries that require higher education (such as teaching).
        Unskilled workforce who don’t make top $$$ can’t expect to live right in the center of the most expensive areas in the world. They can live in the suburbs, and still benefit from what the area has to offer (mainly, good education that spills over to the suburbs).

        • NK-“Companies can not “train and hire local workers instead of bringing them from out of state or overseas”. I disagree. Yes…They most certainly can. No excuse for bringing in other workers. HB1 workers are underpaid, that is why they bring them here. GREED!

      • My husband commuted almost 2.5 hrs every day for years. Why isn’t living outside the bay area and commuting an option to the poor? There’s also the option of relocating to another less expensive area/state. Hasn’t this always been the case? People live where they can afford to.

        Instead of trying to make this already crowded area into slums, just so that the poor and homeless can feel good about living next door to rich educated people, how about investing in better public transportation system, so that people who live in Gilroy and Watsonville and even Modesto can work in the bay area.
        This will surely benefit the poor who are interested in working.

        Meanwhile, politicians and other entities will try to make opportunities for themselves by “aiding the poor by building houses” shams, that only end up increasing taxes and benefiting the politicians themselves.

      • Kathleen – Companies can not “train and hire local workers instead of bringing them from out of state or overseas”.
        The employees that come from other states and overseas are highly educated individuals, ones who invested both time and money in higher education in order to acquire knowledge and skills. The high tech industry relies on these smart people, as they’re their most valuable resource.

        Companies offer top money to talented educated employees, and the bay area has become one of the top socio-demographic areas in the country, which is a good thing for most people. Salaries here are higher not only in the R&D industry, but also in other industries that require higher education (such as teaching).
        Unskilled workforce who don’t make top $$$ can’t expect to live right in the center of the most expensive areas in the world. They can live in the suburbs, and still benefit from what the area has to offer (mainly, good education that spills over to the suburbs), or move elsewhere altogether.

        Instead of trying to make this already crowded area into slums, just so that the poor and homeless can feel good about living next door to rich educated people, how about investing in better public transportation system, so that people who live in Gilroy and Watsonville and even Modesto can work in the bay area.
        This will surely benefit the poor who are interested in working.

        Meanwhile, politicians and other entities will try to make opportunities for themselves by “aiding the poor by building houses” shams, that only end up increasing taxes and benefiting the politicians themselves.

      • Interesting that H visas would enter into this discussion. Just so you know, they have two serious problems.

        First, off-short tech temp companies file hundreds, even thousands, of petitions for H visas, and they manage to corral about 1/2 of all H visas. I think it is a serious abuse of the system that could be stopped by requiring that only US companies can file such petitions.

        Second, the fees paid for H visas are supposed to go into a fund to pay for training of US citizens who have been displaced. This is a good idea, but I haven’t seen any evidence that this is a on-going or successful program. I suspect the fees for H visas are simply going into bureaucratic retirement funds and to pay make-work gig workers for slightly related work.

    • I’ve been here since 1955 when the population of San Jose was about 100,000, and the air was yellow smelling like rotten eggs. I lived here for three months before I saw the hills because of the smog. Thank GOD for the simple PCV valve, and some of the SMOG devices, we have some of the cleanest air in the nation.

      I was able to buy homes twice in Fremont, the first leading to the second one which I essentially gave to my EX wife to get the divorce settled. I ended my working career retiring as a renter, and would be happy to buy a house using my VA benefit. $0 down and up to about a $500,000.00 which would require a payment of near $2,500.00 a month. Where in the Bay area? With a $500.000.00 to $1,000,000.00 down payment, I might find a house I could buy in the Bay Area. The divorce wiped out any hope of that, as the EX wife got basically everything.

      I can manage for now, but last week reality struck again, the landlord raised the rent. I do thank him, as he is a really considerate man, and kept the increase low, so I can still manage. On a fixed income, another increase forces me to move out of the Bay Area, I will have no choice, unless I am buying. How do I come up with the down payment of $500,000.00 to $1,000,000.00? I am positive no government agency will provide it!

      My wife’s children and my children live here in the Bay Area, and it would be an emotional hardship for her to live elsewhere.

      • My wife worked with a woman who was the proverbial good housekeeper. Twice divorced, she kept the house both times. She’s now living in her third husband’s home, renting out the other two to supplement her income.

  3. SVLG’s poll was a bit deceptive, failing to mention the new property tax. Here is the polled question from their website:

    Affordable Housing Bond – Potential Ballot Language
    Santa Clara County Affordable Housing Bond. To finance the construction, development, acquisition and preservation of affordable housing for veterans, seniors and the disabled, the homeless including supportive mental health and substance abuse programs, victims of domestic abuse, and other highly vulnerable, low-income individuals and families; shall the County of Santa Clara issue $750 million in general obligation bonds, subject to independent citizens’ oversight and regular audits?

    Would you likely vote “yes” or “no” on this measure?
    Yes. ……………. 65
    No. …………….. 26
    No Opinion……. 9

        • sjoutsidethebubble- “Of course you will. It’s FREE!” I don’t qualify, but I care about the well being of others, so YES, I support it! ;-)

          • > I don’t qualify, but I care about the well being of others, so YES, I support it! ;-)

            No benefit to you.
            No cost to you.

            Just a free floating moral pronouncement.

            You just decided: “some people are “good” victims and others are “bad” oppressors?

            Any basis for your morality, or do you just make it up as you go along?

          • Nothing is free! Unless you are illiterate, just plain stupid, or don’t understand how public bonds are paid back by taxpayers please don’t vote. There really is a need to have a literacy test implemented and in place in California to require registered voters to be deemed competent to vote on tax issues. The County is betting that most voters are incompetent and unable to understand how public bonds are payable as an increased tax to residents. Your statements and those of others posting comments on this subject only serve to encourage and enforce those politicans beliefs that stupidity will prevail.

      • it is really a very simple solution, don’t want your property taxes to continue to go up………just vote NO like me

    • > Would you likely vote “yes” or “no” on this measure?
      Yes. ……………. 65

      I suspect that this is just a pipe dream.

      1. The poll doesn’t propose any real “cost versus benefit”; people will always vote for nice, feel good things that don’t cost them anything.

      2. This poll is taken in the ABSENCE of any opposing information. It is only the positive side of the story.

      3. The amount of money sought is H-U-G-E! Three quarters of a BILLION dollars, That’s enough affordable housing for half of Mexico!

      4. I suspect, but can’t confirm yet, that this measure will require a 60 percent or two-thirds supermajority to pass. So, 65 percent “yes” out of the starting gate is not that compelling. It’s barely passing.

      5. There will be H-U-G-E bond commissions for greedy bankers for issuing THREE QUARTERS OF A BILLION DOLLARS in bonds. This bond measure is not really for homeless “veterans, seniors, and disabled”; it’s for Goldman Sachs.

      6. It is extremely bad — and stupid — fiscal policy. It is long established wisdom among financiers that bonds should be used to fund capital projects that create a revenue stream that can fund repayment of the bonds. This bond measure appears to fund consumption of “affordable housing” which be definition is housing that people CAN’T pay for themselves. The repayment will come from — presumably — general tax revenues: cops, firemen, potholes.

      REAL taxpayers are going to tear this thing to shreds.

      One of the stupidest, most craven, most deceitful abuses of the public’s fiscal interests I have ever seen.

      If you did this to your grandmother, you would be in jail for elder abuse.

  4. So you’re going to use nearly a billion dollars to subsidize loans for lower income people rather than to build more housing and actually begin to resolve the problem? Welcome to Santa Clara County, land of the elected idiots and criminals.

  5. SJOUTSIDE says:

    This bond measure is not really for homeless “veterans, seniors, and disabled”; it’s for Goldman Sachs.

    Exactly right. Let’s see a complete cost breakdown of where every dollar will go. Who gets the money — including salaries. It’s the taxpayers’ money, we should see which pockets our money is going into.

    Next, I have a problem with something that’s “free”. When I left the service I couldn’t get a CalVet home loan because even though I was discharged here, I’d enlisted in a different state. Will the people who get this housing be vetted like that? Are they locals who were born and grew up here, and who need our help now? Or will anyone be able to come here from anywhere, and get this “free” housing?

    And it’s not just for veterans, it’s “for veterans, seniors, the disabled and homeless.”

    I can see it now: ‘Homeless may step to the front of the line. Interpreters are available to assist you. And do not worry, state law makes it illegal for us to ask your immigration status.’

    This bond is unnecessary. It won’t provide any new housing. It will reward special interests at taxpayer expense. Homeowners paying the parcel tax will get nothing out of it.

    Cortese says, “The plan is to provide down payments or loans for families who are trying to relocate closer to their workplace.” Who is he kidding? Let’s see that “plan”.

    How many homeless folks are going to start paying a mortgage, even if taxpayers give them the down payment, along with a subsidized loan at an even lower interest rate than the current *very* low 3.5%?

    Kathleen Flynn wrote, The bottom line is that we need to build more housing period.

    But this $Billion dollar special interest bond scam will not build one new rental unit! It will cost the average homeowner a new parcel tax every year — and for what? So ‘homeless’ folks can presumably buy a house “closer to their workplace”? Who are these country Supervisors trying to fool? Homeless folks don’t have jobs that would qualify them to pay a mortgage. They’re homeless, see?

    This bond is a hoax designed to shear already hard-bitten taxpayers, who will get nothing out of the deal. And if, say, 500 cronies of the county Supes end up getting a no-interest down payment, and a very low interest (or no interest) loan to buy a house they couldn’t otherwise afford, that extra demand will put more upward pressure on home prices.

    And in the mean time, our electeds are seriously discussing using land that could provide more housing, for “urban farms” that would benefit at most a few dozen people, out of millions in the immediate area.

    Hey, an “urban farm” is free land for your hobby, with free water! It’s great to be an ‘urban farmer’, isn’t it?

    Sure, it’s great — if you’re one of the very small handful who gets exclusive use of the land, with free water for as long as you want it, and at everyone else’s expense. But not one-hundredth of one percent of residents will ever get to use that ‘urban farmland’. It’s just some do-gooder’s idea that he doesn’t even need, because he’s already got his own house and yard. ‘Urban farms’ are just another problem foisted on local taxpayers by a self-appointed ‘activist’ who has no skin in the game himself.

    What this area needs is more housing! But this bond doesn’t provide any new housing, it just lines some special interest pockets at our expense.

    If we want more housing there are proven ways to increase the housing stock. San Francisco has built hundreds of nice high rise apartments and condos. Why can’t we do that here? Land that is zoned for 12 units per acre can easily provide for 100+ units per acre. Current zoning can be changed to provide for more units per acre.

    So why don’t we build up? There are plenty of builders who would step up and do it, at no cost to the taxpayers. Why don’t we make efficient use of the land?

    Answer: for the same reason we’re saddled with those stupid “urban farms”. The same busybodies pushing urban farms squawk the loudest whenever someone proposes building more units per acre. Those ‘community activists’ have no skin in the game (their own money is never at risk). But their interference limits the housing supply.

    It is as much the fault of those aging eco-hippies as anyone that housing doesn’t keep pace with the population. They get the NIMBYs all stirred up with scare stories, then when they’ve killed a project that would have increased the housing supply, they walk away smirking. They’ve risked nothing, and they’ve added to the problem. All we get out of it is an ‘urban farm’ that pays no property taxes, and that benefits a very few ‘urban farmers’. Everyone else pays for their hobby.

    IF this $Billion (which we will have to repay, plus interest) actually provided new housing, maybe there would be a good argument for it. But this bond is just another scam on the public. A very few will cash in, while the rest of us pay for it.

    Folks with common sense will vote NO on this bond. It’s a scam.

    • Developers are building “luxury” high rises to maximize their profits. Look at the Reserve complex on Winchester. Nearly 700 people displaced. City council members vote for money over people. Like many I want to see a business plan for this money. County has not done well with oversight. Valley Medical Center is a prime example of incompetence

  6. Seniors who worked in California and disabled vets should be entitled to low rent housing. The others who fit into the disabled such as alcoholic and drug abusers who can’t get up in the morning to go to work, should not be free-loaders on the tax payers. What is the cause of the homelessness? are they the losers I am supposed to support.

  7. Because as more and more illegal aliens and poor people enter CA for the goodies, the politicians see a larger and larger voting block. In exchange for votes, the people get free stuff and we the middle class are forced to foot the bill of everyone.

    It’s not sustainable.

    • I have to disagree here. She seems to me to be a complete supporter of taxes and spending that will result in the construction of something, meaning will create jobs mostly for diverse blue-collar workers, not anything frivolous from her point of view.

  8. According to the Santa Clara County Office of Public Affairs, this measure requires a 2/3 majority of votes to pass.

    It their poll shows 65 percent percent support starting out, it’s already losing.

    Since this “bond measure” is nothing but a HUGE PROPERTY TAX INCREASE, count on furious opposition.

    This is a direct attack of Proposition 13.

  9. Some notes on the SCC General Obligation (GO) bond (“Affordable Housing bond”)

    DATE: June 21, 2016
    TO: Board of Supervisors
    FROM: Jeffrey V. Smith, County Executive
    SUBJECT: Resolution to Place on the Nov. 8, 2016 Ballot a General Obligation Bond

    [General Obligation Bond]

    [A general obligation bond is a common type of municipal bond in the United States that is secured by a state or local government’s pledge to use legally available resources, including tax revenues, to repay bond holders. Most general obligation pledges at the local government level include a pledge to levy a property tax to meet debt service requirements, in which case holders of general obligation bonds have a right to compel the borrowing government to levy that tax to satisfy the local government’s obligation.]

    IT’S A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!
    IT’S A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!
    IT’S A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!

    – – – – –

    In all cases, the bond proceeds would only be used to fund acquisition or improvement of real property.

    – – – – –

    The Administration is intending to allocate the proceeds based on criteria recommended by the Administration and approved by the Board. [TRANSLATION: We’ll spend it however WE damn well please.]

    – – – – –

    In addition, other criteria (regarding the geographic distribution of supportive housing) would also be considered including ideas suggested by stakeholder groups. [TRANSLATION: “stakeholder groups” = cronies]

    – – – – –

    Support the Governor’s “by-right” housing policies as included in the Governor’s affordable housing measure.

    [Really? What the hell does this mean?]

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/real-estate/2016/05/brown-affordable-housing-development-approval-ceqa.html

    It means that the State of California is requiring local governments to approve housing developments that are primed to become slums overtime. I.e. Starting out, 15 percent of the housing units must be offered to “low income” or “very low income” tenants. The law won’t allow the percent of low income units to decrease. It can only INCREASE. And it will. It’s a PLANNED FUTURE SLUM!

  10. Important alert for TJW’s (“Tax Justice Warriors”)

    It is as certain as night follows day that the lizards and reptiles in SCC County Government will try to place this measure on the ballot as something warm and fuzzy like “Affordable Housing for Homeless Veterans and Children”.

    They must be STOPPED!

    This measure MUST be described as a GENERAL PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!

    Put your lawyers on speed dial!

  11. Three things to watch for with this bond issue.

    First, the resolution adopted by the Board of Supervisors fails to mention whether the bonds will be “limited” or “unlimited.” If brokers will sell these bonds as “unlimited,” it means that the County Tax Collector may add a surcharge to the ordinary annual property tax to make up any losses to bond purchasers for that year. This happens sometimes with the East Side high school district as well as the Berryessa elementary/middle school district. It guarantees regular and complete payment every year to the 1% who can afford to buy bonds by large numbers.

    Second, while it discusses the wonderful things that almost one-billion dollars can buy, it fails to provide any estimate of the total cost to taxpayers to pay the bonds off. The general rule of thumb (which the 1% may wish to dispute) is that paying off a bond costs at least twice the tax dollars that the bonds brought in. That it, this bond will cost taxpayers approximately $1.8 billon to pay down the bonds. An example of this is the new city hall that the City of San Jose sold bonds three times to build the structure and the bonds are still not paid off yet. The impact of up to 12% compound interest (stated in the county bond proposal) is huge.

    Third, the “citizen oversight committee” in the proposal is limited to a review by the members annually of an audited financial statement, hardly any kind of oversight at all.

    • > Third, the “citizen oversight committee” in the proposal is limited to a review by the members annually of an audited financial statement, hardly any kind of oversight at all.

      STAN: “Gee, Ollie. I think this year’s audited financial statement really sucks”

      OLLIE: “Me, too”

      STAN: “I think we’re done. Any snacks?”