To afford living in Silicon Valley, you either need to make enough money to cover sky-high rents or make little enough to qualify for below-market-rate housing.
In Santa Clara, plans to build a 196-unit complex for the latter group reportedly make it one of the largest affordable housing projects in the state.
Last month the Santa Clara City Council approved the Irvine Company proposal dubbed St. Anton. The development is slated for a one-acre pocket of a 45-acre swath of land in the Calle del Mundo neighborhood and will partly make up for the dearth of affordable housing at a nearby Irvine Company mixed-use project called Santa Clara Square.
As proposed, every single unit will be reserved for households making $55,200 or less a year, with income limits adjusted for family size. That figure represents an “extremely low income” household for a family of four, according to state numbers.
“This is a 100 percent affordable housing project,” Mayor Lisa Gillmor said, “and it shows how requiring affordable housing obligations for new developments, like Santa Clara Square, can benefit all people who want to live in our community.”
The apartment building will be located in the heart of a fast-developing part of the city. It lies within walking distance of Levi’s Stadium and a newly-approved, 9-million-square-foot retail complex near the Santa Clara Convention Center.
St. Anton will include 158 low-income units and 37 very low-income units, according to a city memo. The housing will remain permanently tied to area median income, or AMI. That means, using 2019 AMI figures, units can go as low as $1,300 for a studio and $1,600 for a one-bedroom—prices almost unheard of in Silicon Valley. “This fills a big need,” city spokeswoman Lenka Wright said. “It’s around 10 to 15 percent of AMI.”
The project’s low-income status doesn’t mean it will preclude luxuries reserved for its market-rate counterparts, including a gym, pool and game room, according to blueprints developers submitted to the city.
“Everything is brand new in there,” Irvine Company spokesman Justin Veach said. “The quality is high and it’s in a good location, close to transit.”
Logistics for allocating the units are still being worked out, but the city and Irvine are considering a lottery for qualifying households.
The project will replace an existing 16,760-square-foot warehouse that sits on a 1.2-acre parcel. Construction is set to begin in early 2020. “We’re excited to get people in the units,” Veach said. “It’s a unique project and we’re excited for the potential.”