Santa Clara County on Tuesday unveiled a set of rules for developers seeking public subsidies to build housing designed for developmentally disabled residents.
The Board of Supervisors voted today on the guidelines, which clarify eligibility requirements for contractors who want to access the first $10 million set aside for projects with at least 50 units of housing for the disabled.
Supervisor Joe Simitian requested the funding last fall as a way to prevent disabled people from lapsing into homelessness. Initially, Simitian wanted to use proceeds from Measure A, a $950 million bond dedicated to build housing for the homeless. But his colleagues rejected the idea, saying it cut into a source of funding meant specifically for people who are already unhoused or at immediate risk of ending up on the streets.
Instead, the board directed county staff to carve out $40 million from the budget to help build below-market-rate homes with services for the physically and cognitively disabled.
Simitian called the disability-accessible housing a “smart, humane and cost-effective” way to prevent homelessness.
“I wanted to get us away from a zero-sum conversation—to see if we could address both sets of needs,” Simitian said in a news release. “It appears we did. This is one of those times when all’s well that ends well.”
Jan Stokely, head of Housing Choices, a nonprofit that assist families with special needs, applauded Tuesday’s vote to subsidized housing for the developmentally disabled. “They’re a vulnerable group of county residents who are not yet homeless,” she said, “but are just a heartbeat away from a housing crisis.”