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