Letter to the Editor: $950 Million County Bond Measure Will Help More than Just Homeless People

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors recently approved a $950 million dollar affordable housing bond to be placed on the November 2016 ballot. Although the media has focused on how these funds would address Santa Clara County’s homeless crisis, the bond measure is actually designed to create housing opportunities for vulnerable populations with unmet housing needs.

Among these vulnerable populations are 9,261 residents of Santa Clara County who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Of these residents, 5,735 are adults who are living at home with aging parents. Most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments of about $889, and they remain at home with their parents far longer than necessary—simply because they are unable to find affordable housing.

With an aging population of parent caregivers and the closure of many segregated facilities that once provided housing of last resort, Santa Clara County is facing a housing crisis for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that is less visible than the region’s homeless encampments, but no less urgent.

Civil rights laws and California’s Lanterman Act promise people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the services they need to live an independent and integrated life in the community. This is an empty promise unless here—in one of the nation’s economic powerhouses—we vote in November to tax ourselves a bit more so we can create more rental housing that is truly affordable to our most vulnerable residents.

Rebecca Byrne, Housing Development Advocate
Housing Choices Coalition, San Jose, CA

30 Comments

  1. > a $950 million dollar affordable housing bond to be placed on the November 2016 ballot

    IT’S AN ACROSS THE BOARD PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!

    IT’S AIMED SQUARELY AT PROPOSITION 13.

    Ignore all the deceptive misdirection baloney about “helping the homeless”.

    It’s helping Goldman Sachs and Wall Street bankers, and it’s helping statist big government politicians who like to spend money..

    The “housing” provide by this bond measure are simply high density warehouses for Democrat voters.

    • “The “housing” provide by this bond measure are simply high density warehouses for Democrat voters.”

      Bubble: Why must you make everything an issue on party lines? It distorts your arguments. There are PLENTY of people of all parties that are FED UP with this housing situation. I for one am livid that San Jose limited housing from being built INTENTIONALLY for four years during the implementation of a new general plan. Policy was created and passed by a “task force” led by Sam Liccardo that limited housing from being built. The policy put in place was that there needed to be FAR more jobs created before any housing was allowed to be built. This concept was so flawed and the results so damaging that San Jose will be at a loss of enough housing for possibly decades. To mindlessly believe that bringing in jobs before having enough housing to house workers is a recipe for disaster and we are seeing it now.

      You and I AGREE that “planners” are not doing anyone any favors by limiting our supply and only allowing housing to be built in a certain way, at a certain time, and with certain requirements.

      If you do not want this affordable housing bond to pass, please educate readers as you comment and stop alienating people with your continuous attack based on party and what you “think” those party voters believe. Let’s figure out why and how it is that our cities cannot seem to build enough housing. There are SO many reasons and I would like to uncover the roots and expose central planning and many other pitfalls as the reasons why.

      Please help voters understand why they should vote against the bond if that’s what you believe rather than polarizing people. There are more than a few democrats that are against high density warehouses and a whole lot of democrats opposed to the Goldman Sachs and Wall Street “bankers”. I am registered as no party-preference because these days, party doesn’t mean a whole lot. Let’s get to the root of the issue – why is there not enough housing for people? Why? Let’s start to explore the reasons and then address those to figure this out.

      • Jill:

        I usually don’t like to use the terms “Democrat” and “Republican” because what they stand for is highly muddled. And the muddle is intentional, and largely caused by … Democrats and Republicans.

        Nonetheless, the nature of “politics” is highly binary. It is fundamentally two-sided.

        Politics is DISAGREEMENT. That’s what it is all about.

        In a “democracy” where the ultimate prize is power based on numbers, each side tries to convince-compel-seduce the maximum number of people to it’s side to win the prize of power.

        The “affordable housing bond” is a WIN-LOSE competition. Team A wants to bribe people with subsidized housing to support Team A power. Team A will use it’s power to make sure that Team A members get the benefits of subsidized affordable housing.

        Team B recognizes that Team A intends to steal Team B’s wealth and property to pay the bribes to Team A members.

        If “Democrat” and “Republican” sound too partisan and too divisive for you, just say Team A and Team B.

        Feel better?

        • I will only feel better when “Team A and Team B” can discuss WHY enough housing has not been already been built. The Building Industry Association (BIA) has repeatedly explained that the lack of housing is due to many constraints put on developers by local and regional governments that do not allow housing to be built that could be built. I’m sick of all this BS about Nimby’s being the problem as to why housing doesn’t get built. That simply isn’t true. I’m pretty sure the BIA will tell you that cities like San Jose are getting in the way of residential being built in order to improve their “jobs-housing” ratio. We as a city incentivize companies to bring jobs here and then don’t allow the BIA to build residential to house those workers. Unless San Jose citizens start to hold our leaders accountable for destructive policies, the housing crisis will continue. The reason I am upset by the housing bond is that years of INTENDED reduction of supply has now created this condition and now tax-payers must foot the bill that could have been dealt with by having just an ounce of foreword thinking that when you bring in jobs….people need somewhere to live.

          • > The reason I am upset by the housing bond is that years of INTENDED reduction of supply has now created this condition and now tax-payers must foot the bill . . .

            An interesting insight, and one that probably contains a lot of truth.

            Similar to another theory making the rounds that says that law enforcement will “stand down” and NOT do anything about clearing illegal “homeless” encampments before the election so that the pervasiveness and visibility of “homeless” camps will motivate voters to want to “do something” and vote for the “Affordable Housing bond measure”.

            Years ago, people might have called this perspective “cynical”. Today, it’s understood as “just what politicians do”.

          • SJOTB,

            The primary reason – and possibly the only reason aside from manpower considerations – that law enforcement doesn’t deal more directly with the homeless situation is that various advocacy groups have made it virtually impossible to do so as a practical matter. One example of this is that, in order to clear an encampment, public safety has to come up with some way to ‘secure’ the ‘property’ of the homeless.

            I know from personal experience that much of the ‘property’ of a homeless person is materiel ‘acquired’ by going through the trash put out by persons and businesses: items to which those persons had/have no legitimate right. And, most of the rest is so filthy/pest-ridden/contaminated that the only rational/responsible/safe thing to do with it is to burn it.

            Unfortunately, organizations such as the ACLU have made it virtually impossible to dispose of this so-called property in a manner which respects the safety of the personnel involved in the cleanup or public health and safety overall.

    • >IT’S AN ACROSS THE BOARD PROPERTY TAX INCREASE!
      >IT’S AIMED SQUARELY AT PROPOSITION 13.

      I don’t know about it being aimed at prop 13. It’s aimed to pad the pockets of Section 8 landlords (Of which some board members are certainly an owner/beneficiary of)

      Like that time a few years ago when Section 8 vouchers were cut off due to the federal shutdown, the BOS rushed in to make sure those welfare rent checks kept coming in with some scheme to “Loan” the landlords the money from the county until the fed money came back.

      The real issue here is cost of living/maintaining a property has gone up with the rents, so these slumlords need just a little bit extra to make ends meet. We’ll get some nice pictures of a family that just won the “Homeless Lotto” to make us feel good about it.

      • > It’s aimed to pad the pockets of Section 8 landlords

        Certainly, Section 8 does it’s part to keep the rental market strong, i.e. to keep “market rents” higher than they would be without Section 8.

        I suppose there is some economist somewhere who can show that, for example, 10 million dollars in Section 8 rent subsidies raises the total rents paid by everyone by 30 or 40 million.

        The dirty little secret is that it is probably good for landlords, particularly “bottom feeders”, but generally screws renters of “market rate housing” .

        Section 8 is probably another variation on the theme of “crony capitalism”, where the government lops off the bottom of a market to make the top more profitable.

        There are numerous examples: Section 8 housing, minimum wage, “marketing orders” to keep undersized oranges off of the market, etc. etc.

        > I don’t know about it being aimed at prop 13.

        “Progressives” have been seething with rage over Prop 13 ever since it was passed. They hate it with deep, visceral hatred. Progressives would be dancing in the street like jihadists celebrating 9/11 if prop 13 were ever taken down.

  2. A BILLION $$$$$ for homeless housing??? Give me a break. This is a money grab by government who can’t manage thier own spending. Make no mistake…very little will be spent on homeless issues and a great deal on a new bloated beaucracy. How about giving us taxpayers a break. SJOSTB you are correct. This is an assualt on Prop 13. This is one to definitely vote no on.

  3. > This is one to definitely vote no on.

    The good news is that this measure requires a TWO THIRDS majority to pass.

    In the words of the old country western song . . . “mash that sucker flat!”

  4. How many homeless are the Board of Supervisors committing to house if this bond measure passes? We have seen gross incompetence with the County managing other projects such as VMC. Giving on blank check to the Supervisors without measurable goals would be foolish.

    • Steveo, thank you for focusing on the 6,000 homeless people in Santa Clara County who need some way to survive without damaging their neighbors who lead a more settled life. In short, there are three parts to helping the homeless, and they are (a) helping homeless people find safe spaces to live their lives in housing or in the rough if they prefer, (b) helping neighbors concerned about their children traveling through encampments and about health hazards the neighbors face because of the disease vectors coming from the encampments, and (c) reforming encampments by regularizing & organizing these mini-municipalities’ status by law. Of these three, reforming encampments as institutions is over-looked by political and media interests.

      The Independence High Neighborhood Association has studied the effects of encampments allowed to expand at will on the neighbors and on the residents of the encampment.

      If the county wants us to support a $950 million bond (which will cost at least $1.8 billion to pay off) for housing projects, let’s get some answers from the county to these questions:

      1. What experience has the county had with successful reform of encampments that place the residents in safe and healthy places?

      2. What are the standards and policies of the county that it wishes to enforce or enact in the lives of homeless people, their neighbors, and the encampments themselves?

      3. Does the county seek to perpetuate the spreading and growing encampments in neighborhoods as a device to bully voters into voting YES on this huge amount?

      Never forget, as the Mercury News has forgotten, that there are three interests at stake here: (a) welfare of the homeless people, (b) welfare of their neighbors, and (c) reform of the encampment model legalized in practice by the county.

      • Dale Warner: how dare you suggest that a government agency utilize objective metrics and data to solve a problem and define success??!! Unionized government workers and their political bosses would never, ever engage in such things. It’s astounding how well we do here in California, despite our government employees and their political bosses, who oppose business and tax everyone at every turn.

  5. “Giving on [sic] blank check to the Supervisors without measurable goals would be foolish.” Public employee unions have negotiated out the requirement for measurable goals, and the impotent negotiators who are supposed to be on the side of the taxpayers have let them get away with it. Metrics, data, and measurable goals are unknown in the world of public employees represented by unions. You can blame Governor Moonbeam in his first term for that. If this billion dollar bond measure passes, at least half of it will be spent on “administration”, which will consist of a whole bunch of additional public employees pushing paper upline and downline. . If it passes, another result will be that the word gets out that there are more freebies up here, which will result in more homeless showing up at out doors, which will result in yet another bond measure. Am I the only person who is tired of having his pocket picked?

    • The article’s author says…

      …vote in November to tax ourselves a bit more so we can create more rental housing that is truly affordable to our most vulnerable residents.

      No.

      It never ends. JMO is right (above). This bond is simply a tax that will balloon the bureaucracy required to build and operate the project. And those bureaucrats will not be underpaid. Quite the opposite; public employees now make about 78% more than equivalent jobs in the private sector. I suspect they won’t be overworked, either.

      President FDR was adamantly opposed to allowing public (government) employees to unionize. The pay raises being negotiated will not come out of the pockets of an employer, but rather, from a third party: the taxpayers. But those taxpayers have no way to limit a high pay raise negotiated between the union and the Supervisors. The taxpayers’ job is to pay whatever is negotiated.

      Those on the inside — the unions and their pet politicians — know how to play this game for their mutual benefit. The easy way out for any political body like the Supes is to give in to the union’s demands (or close), thus avoiding the bad publicity that inevitably comes with a protracted strike. And by giving the unions more than what the free market pays for the same jobs, the unspoken quid pro quo is that the unions will deliver their members’ voting block to support whoever transfers the most taxpayer loot to the unions. It’s very tough to fight a system like that. But at least the public sheep can avoid this particular shearing by voting NO on this unnecessary and costly bond issue. It’s a self-serving insiders racket that won’t even budge the needle on the area’s rental housing shortage.

      There’s no need for an expensive new bond measure to increase rental housing. Simply raise the density from 6 –12 units an acre, to 100+ units an acre. San Francisco has lots of high rise condos and apartments that make efficient use of the land. There’s no reason that can’t be done here. And there’s no need for an expensive bond measure, because developers will be more than happy to build those high-rises at no cost to the taxpayers; there’s certainly a market for rental housing.

      All the government needs to do is make the rules friendly to rental housing development, and that’s what will be built. But what they really want is the bond. Housing is just the excuse; the feel-good narrative. And the taxpayers are the designated chumps.

      Let’s stop being chumps. Vote NO on this bond measure. It’s a scam.

      • > Quite the opposite; public employees now make about 78% more than equivalent jobs in the private sector. I suspect they won’t be overworked, either.

        To their credit, public employees have successfully staved off famine, at least among themselves.

        Thanks to the miracle of transparentcalifornia.com, here’s a little insight into how some Santa Clara County employees are able to successfully keep starvation at arms length:

        Firstname Lastname Title Year Total Pay & Benefits

        Office of Supportive Housing

        Robert Dolci Homeless and Housing Concerns Coordinator 2015 $139,072.42
        Ky Le Director of Homeless Systems 2015 $165,087.84
        Hilary Barroga Management Analysis Program Manager II 2015 $130,205.75
        Erin Stanton Senior Management Analyst 2015 $123,848.16
        Soo Jung Senior Mental Health Program Specialist 2015 $134,931.95

        $693,146.12

        • > Robert Dolci Homeless and Housing Concerns Coordinator 2015 $139,072.42

          By the way, if anyone has any Homeless and Housing Concerns to be coordinated, I’m offering a summer special.

          I will coordinate all of your Homeless and Housing concerns for only $99,000.

          Limited time offer only.

          Offer expires August 31.

  6. It’s not that housing isn’t being built here; there are many recent high density development projects recently built and in process. There’s plenty of apartment housing being built in some communities, such as Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, and San Jose, but an internet search shows that the rental prices are high. Here’s just one example from one developer’s website: https://www.irvinecompanyapartments.com/search?type=adv&zipcode=95051&zipRadius=5&bedrooms=&bathrooms=&

    • > but an internet search shows that the rental prices are high.

      The prices are at market rate.

      You seem to believe that they should be BELOW market rate.

      Who appointed you God of rental prices?

      • My point is that those who say that housing isn’t being built here are ignoring all of the high density high priced (market rate) rental housing that is being built.

        Housing IS being built here. There are development projects all over south bay communities thanks to developer friendly city councils. So those who are saying that we have a housing crisis because housing isn’t being built here are really saying that low income housing isn’t being built.

        • > So those who are saying that we have a housing crisis because housing isn’t being built here are really saying that low income housing isn’t being built.

          Maybe they’re just saying that low income people don’t have enough income.

          I have a solution: Cut corporate taxes, Encourage businesses to repatriate TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS of profits invested overseas. Slash government regulation and harassment of energy companies. Build reservoirs and water transportation in California to grow the economy and create prosperity.

          Presto. Low income people get good paying jobs, become high income people, and can afford “market rate” housing.

          You making this more difficult than it really is.

        • No, I’m not saying what you say I am saying. I AM SAYING, NOT ENOUGH HOUSING IS BEING BUILT HERE. A very specific plan and policy was put into place under Liccardo to increase jobs while INTENTIONALLY not allowing housing for those jobs to be built.

          Read this letter to get a clear idea of the problem created under this new fangled general plan:

          http://planning.sanjoseca.gov/planning/eir/ESJ2040_GP/EIR_comments/BIA_8_15.pdf

          Please SCC read the letter. You are not getting what I am saying. There is NOT enough housing being built. You can mince up what types that’s fine….what I’m saying is the planners of this city and the policy makers and the “task force” intended to make sure that San Jose reduced the amount of housing it would build from here on out.

          • It would seem that JILL and SANTA CLARA COUNTY are one and the same.

  7. OFFICERANONYMOUS:

    > The primary reason – and possibly the only reason aside from manpower considerations – that law enforcement doesn’t deal more directly with the homeless situation is that various advocacy groups have made it virtually impossible to do so as a practical matter.

    Your point is well taken.

    I may have not been completely clear.

    I didn’t mean to say that “law enforcement” was not clearing encampments.

    I meant to say that law enforcement was implementing a policy established by political “policy makers” of not clearing encampments.

    I did not mean to suggest or imply that law enforcement had any ownership or responsibility for the polity.

  8. TO: JOHNMICHAEL O’CONNOR

    What do you mean Jill and SCC are the same? Would you clarify? I do not understand your meaning there.

    Jill

  9. No more taxes. People on fixed incomes simply cannot afford the incessant increases in taxes and local government fees. Every year, 5-10% increase for trash, 5-10% for sewer and water. We are consuming less and paying more. It is impossible to stop the politicians because it requires 2/3rd vote of voters to oppose the increases. There is no additional benefit to rate payers. It adds up! Compare your bills from 5 of 10 years ago.
    It is depressing to see people living in million dollar houses standing in the bread lines at local churches every week. An increased tax or fee every year of $10 per month takes food off the table. These fees are not included in inflation indexes.
    How much in savings must a tax payer have to service a $100 increase on the property tax bill? The answer should shock every non-governmental employee. Where will retirees get that money to pay the tax?

    No more taxes nor mandatory fees. .

    • > No more taxes. People on fixed incomes simply cannot afford the incessant increases in taxes and local government fees.

      ROBYN:

      I’ll put you down as voting against the Santa Clara County Affordable Housing bond measure in November.

      That makes two of us now.

  10. Scott Herhold sheds additional light on who’s behind the “Affordable Bond”.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/scott-herhold/ci_30167092/your-guide-players-behind-san-joses-big-ballot

    It can get confusing, particularly with the soup of alphabet headings the registrar will assign to these measures. So let me offer a shortcut to four important local initiatives. For ease of memory, you can call them …, Cindy’s Tax, …..

    [Cindy Chavez, a Santa Clara County supervisor:]

    CINDY’S TAX — One of the county’s biggest measures this year is a $950 million housing bond, which is directed particularly at the homeless. Anyone who has seen the explosion in the number of homeless people in the county will have some sympathy for the idea. But a bond must be repaid and so it is also a tax — funded by a levy of $12.66 per $100,000 property valuation. If your house is valued at $750,000, you would pay $95 yearly. Again, this demands a two-thirds vote, and there is dissension in the ranks of business leaders. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce has come out vigorously against the measure, saying “enough is enough.”

  11. The article was meant to demonstrate that the housing bond is meant for more than just homeless people. If it passes, it will also help people with developmental disabilities who (even when they work) have limited incomes. There are many adults in Santa Clara County with developmental disabilities who (with supportive services) could live independently.