Santa Clara County Considers $750M Affordable Housing Bond

Santa Clara County will explore the idea of putting a $750 million affordable housing bond on the fall ballot.

Heartened by a poll showing some support for the idea, county supervisors this week ordered a report on how to spend the money if voters passed such a measure. They expect to revisit the plan in June at their final meeting before summer recess and ahead of the August deadline to place it on the Nov. 8 ballot.

A survey of 805 likely voters conducted by EMC Research ranked housing as a top concern, followed by education, public safety and transportation.

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Pollsters found that an affordable housing bond measure may rally the two-thirds approval it needs to pass. But results also show that the measure would lose if homeowners had to pay $14 for every $100,000 in assessed value. According to county Assessor Larry Stone, the bond measure would cost the average homeowner $84 a year.

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“Now we need to get down to the details so that our voters have a clear picture of what we are asking them to support,” Board President Dave Cortese said.

Funds from the general obligation bond—financed through a property tax hike—would pay not for services but “brick-and-mortar” housing. If approved, county officials said, the money would help extremely low-income residents, seniors, foster youth and disabled people find homes.

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has worked closely with the county on the housing bond plan and said he would support the measure.

"We are facing an affordable housing crisis in our community, with thousands of families struggling to keep up with rising housing costs," Liccardo said in a prepared statement.

Supervisors originally considered backing a sales tax for affordable housing, but it would compete with San Jose’s quarter-cent hike and the Valley Transportation Authority’s half-cent increase.

Click here for a video of the Board of Supervisors meeting. To see the survey results in their entirety, click here.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. I absolutely support this measure. If San Jose is to do better, all the citizens who can contribute should do it. Asking Mom and Pop property owners to be the Santa Clara housing program is not a workable solution.

  2. > A survey of 805 likely voters conducted by EMC Research ranked housing as a top concern, followed by education, public safety and transportation.

    OH, GREAT!!

    Just effing great!

    Which of these has been a triumph of wise public policy?

    A. Housing

    B. Education

    C. Public safety

    D. Transportation

  3. The summary here shows who the public would support helping, which does not get to the basic problem, namely, that jobs are dense in certain areas, leading to an unmet need near those areas for more dense housing. So the pragmatic solutions would be: a better mass transportation spine; and massive rezoning to support higher density of housing throughout the County, including micro-units.

    Yet, elsewhere, the County gets into specifics of “how”, and unfortunately the focus is on subsidies rather than directly on supply-and-demand:

    “Funding for construction, rehabilitation, and preservation
    ” * Providing rental subsidies
    ” * Creating and assisting shelters and special needs housing
    ” * Providing home financing for first-time and low income homebuyers
    ” * Offering and funding services to address housing discrimination and dispute resolution
    ” * Generating opportunities for new housing on surplus County-owned lands
    ” * Facilitating advocacy and education”

    People could really get behind this, if only a solution were offered that would be less expensive and yet targets the real problem: the supply nearby employment centers.

  4. You’re not going to “solve” the affordable housing “problem” by raising taxes. (And stop kidding yourselves- a bond IS a tax increase)
    The powers that be have an uncanny knack for inventing a “problem”, selling that “problem” to the public, then imposing a “solution” to that “problem” that actually takes what was only a “problem”, makes things worse, and turns it into an actual PROBLEM.
    At your local School of Reality, consider enrolling in Democrat Party Policy 101; using the power of government to turn paradise into a shithole.

  5. The bond should be paid for by the benefactors and user, not the homeowners!
    How would county supervisors spend the money, are you kidding me?

  6. The most effective solution to our challenging housing market would be to subtract from the county the tens (or hundreds) of thousands of residents who are here illegally, as this would immediately render vacant a huge number of rental properties, far more than could ever be built by a taxpayer fleecing scheme. The addition of supply would reduce demand, the reduced demand would reduce rents, the reduced rents would make housing more affordable. Of course subtracting these people is not going to happen (due to a lack of political will), although the increasingly high rents of late function, to a degree, as a subtracting force (this is the force liberals desperately want stopped).

    Whatever is your personal definition of affordable housing, be warned: you don’t want to make things too comfortable for the bottom-dwellers, for within their ranks can be found the majority of the riffraff responsible for violent crime, theft, and general incivility. Forty years ago parts of San Jose were a bit too affordable and the city suffered for it, up until the trickle down prosperity from the tech boom elevated rents and sent the scumbags scurrying to places like East Palo Alto (which very soon was in the running for the nation’s murder capital). Over the last two decades, the arrival of genuine working people in cities like EPA, Richmond, and Oakland has driven a sizable percentage of affordably-housed scumbags to the east and north, much to the consternation of the good people of Antioch, Oakley, Fairfield, etc., who must now deal with deteriorating schools and drive-by shootings.

    As for the bond measure, I stopped voting “Sí” for such things the first time I heard a politician utter the word “sanctuary.”

    • > As for the bond measure, I stopped voting “Sí” for such things the first time I heard a politician utter the word “sanctuary.”

      Wow! It’s even worse than I thought?

      Three quarters of a billion dollars of debt on the working class and future generations to provide subsidized housing for illegal immigrants in a sanctuary city!!!

      Now I’m REALLY against it!

  7. Curious where this figure of “tens (or hundreds) of thousands of residents who are here illegally” comes from…

    And it was very quick work linking “three-quarters of a billion dollars” (imagining Dr Evil pinky-side smirk for full effect) from taxpayers to subsidized housing for illegal immigrants in a sanctuary city.

    • > Curious where this figure of “tens (or hundreds) of thousands of residents who are here illegally” comes from…

      You like to have things explained to you from the very beginning. Right?

      Well, in the beginning there was nothing but darkness . . .

    • Mr. Charly,

      Can I build “low income” Section 8 housing on either side of your house or put ‘low income’ tenants (generally on welfare) on either side or above you if you live in an apartment? They will not only bring the “work ethic” that got them to their “affordable” housing in the first place but they will also bring the type of “ethical behavior” so common to those who feel entitled to something “affordable” derived from taxpayer dollars.

      I can create affordable housing without any building materials and with the simple stroke of a pen. If the local politicos and compassionistas really want to make my rent or house payment more affordable, CUT MY TAXES by whatever amount it takes to make my house payment or rent affordable again. Lower my property, sales and who knows what else hidden tax by $100 a month and I might be able to afford to continue to live here.

      As well, instead of picking on the poor illegal immigrant who came here yearning to be free (from having to work because public assistance money and cheap housing and “sanctuary” is so plentiful and easy to come by) let’s instead try this: Drug testing for anyone applying for taxpayer subsidized “affordable housing”.

  8. Charly,

    I’d be happy to give you something more definitive, but given that these people have broken the law, and criminals tend to be hesitant about revealing themselves, an accurate accounting is not available. Add to that the fact that both the government and the media have consistently acted to downplay the severity of the infestation and you have a situation in which every estimate — even those made in good conscience, is subject to dispute and derision (as racist/xenophobic).

    Nevertheless, a quick reckoning using federal government figures:
    Lowest estimate of illegals in US: 12 million
    Percentage of illegals that are in California: 25%
    25% of 12 million: 3 million
    Percentage of Californians living in SC County: 5%
    5% of 3 million: 150,000

    … that’s a lot of apartments.

  9. with that kind of money SCC can’t afford land to make a dent in the sanctuary housing supply unless the county reasonably consider open space or large parks they already control. Do you think the neighbors would vote for a new housing project in Rancho San Antonio? Decent freeway access, oh except in the mornings or afternoons when HWYs 280 and 85 are GRIDLOCKED! I guess the light rail needs a new spur to keep Cupertino’s inline with South San Jose’s access to subsidized transit.

  10. In the meantime, many people lost homes due to not being able to pay their mortgages, and others are still struggling to pay out 75% of their earnings in mortgages. Who helps them?

    • And taxes keep going up, up, up! Now, I am asked to pay for someone else to have a home. This plan may well put ME out of a home, as I struggle now. Good way to squeeze out the Middle Class, San Jose!

  11. > A survey of 805 likely voters conducted by EMC Research ranked housing as a top concern, . . . .

    Attention Santa Clara County:

    That concern would be for their OWN housing.

    It would by idiotic and political malpractice to jump to the conclusion that people have a high level of concern for providing subsidized housing to all the refugees and migrants in the world who want to live at public expense in our economically, environmentally, culturally, and politically stressed sanctuary city.

    Stop wasting money on stupid surveys and figure out a way to fix potholes, cut taxes, and stop the “migrant” invasion.

  12. SJO It’s like the bird feeder syndrome, stop feeding them and they won’t come and crap on your stuff anymore!

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