Regardless if you’re a San Jose native or simply relocated for work, you’ve probably realized the immense homelessness challenge San Jose is facing. So just how bad is it?
Studies show that from 2011 to 2016 the homeless death toll rose by 164 percent. On any given night, there are approximately 4,350 San Jose residents experiencing homelessness. These individuals simply have no other option but to sleep in parks, sidewalks and benches, or to form encampments.
What’s contributing to these numbers? In San Jose, a lack of available and affordable housing is at the top of the list. The cost of living in San Jose is 53 percent higher than the national average, and the average rental price for a single bedroom apartment is $2,444. Prices like these leave San Jose renters giving large percentages of their income towards rent and homeless individuals no chance of ever obtaining a roof over their head.
The City Council has put forth goals of building 10,000 affordable homes by the year 2022. This agenda for change calls for incremental funding. This is where Measure V steps in. On Nov. 6, San Jose voters will have the opportunity to vote in favor of an affordable housing bond, which could greatly impact the housing instability crisis. Measure V was placed on the ballot by Mayor Sam Liccardo and 10 City Council members as they recognized the severity of the housing and homelessness crisis.
A passing vote would allow the city to allocate $450 million in bonds to build thousands of affordable housing units. Not only will these housing funds be geared towards helping the homeless population, but it will also provide affordable housing for other vulnerable populations that are frequently overlooked.
This includes medium and low-income families, veterans, teachers, nurses, and more. A percentage of funds will be distributed to populations with a variety of income levels.
Opponents to the measure argue that Measure A was already passed and therefore an additional tax increase is not necessary. Measure A funds are certainly helpful but are not sufficient enough to fix the magnitude of the problem. Measure A funds are allocated amongst the county, whereas Measure V will be specific to the city of San Jose. Even with Measure A, the city still runs short of $548 million to meeting the city’s housing goals.
Most taxpayers also do not realize that by helping homeless people find adequate housing, they are actually saving money. It is common for homeless people to use 9-1-1 as a way to stay in hospital emergency rooms. Institutional stays are expensive, and studies show we are actually saving $19,282 per person in annual public services.
So really, the most expensive way to address homelessness is by doing nothing at all. Housing the homeless will also lead to declines in criminal and drug activity, allowing our neighborhoods to feel safer and more desirable.
Innovative thinking and political will must be combined in order to address and eliminate homelessness. We cannot pass up this chance to gain affordable housing in our city, and in less than two weeks, your vote can make a difference. A two-thirds vote is required to pass and although the bill has broad support, it is still in danger of falling through the cracks, leaving disadvantaged populations at risk. Without action, we can expect the crisis to grow and the barrier for vulnerable populations to widen.
Casandra Suarez is San Jose resident and volunteer for the Yes on V campaign. Click here to learn more about the measure. Opinions in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches and letters to [email protected].
Local governments must raise taxes on existing housing to build more housing until housing is affordable and there are no more homeless. Rinse. Repeat.
Just a question: the op-Ed says $450m will build thousands of affordable units: how many thousand and for how many people? It would be good to know what the annual cost of these units is so taxpayers can get a sense of the efficiencies. Thanks.
Affordable housing is so affordable 2,000 will be helped @ $225k/unit. Needy people can have $225k units for free in San Jose. No more homeless in the riverbed!
Thanks, VV for the math. Sorry to be slow here (and looks like V didn’t get 2/3ds, too bad) but was V projecting that:
* It costs $225/unit to build (are these studios? 1 or 2br?) (and I’m assuming to get these efficiencies they need some sort of density minimum, do we know what that is?)
* After move-in, tenants will pay some sort of below-market rate? Do we know what the projected rate is?
I’m just trying to get my head around what the cost/head metrics on this really are, it would’ve helped the V effort, I predict, if these metrics were more up front. $450m is alotta money if you don’t have a good sense of what it will bring, imo.
Down to defeat:
MEASURE V-CITY OF SAN JOSE-AFFORDABLE HOUSING BOND – 2/3 vote
Precincts Reporting: 31% VotesPercentage
> Down to defeat:
> MEASURE V-CITY OF SAN JOSE-AFFORDABLE HOUSING BOND – 2/3 vote
100 % counted.
It’s a miracle.
It’s striking — those who voted for Measure V need a remedial course in economics in high school. Let’s make it a state requirement.
I mean, taxing housing to make housing more affordable? Let’s do it again and again. And more and more!
> Regardless if you’re a San Jose native or simply relocated for work, you’ve probably realized the immense homelessness challenge San Jose is facing.
Thoughtful and generous San Franciscans just solved San Jose’s “immense homelessness challenge”.
San Francisco voters approve homeless tax on businesses
“The city-wide ballot measure called Proposition C passed by a wide margin: 60% to 40%. It will be the largest tax increase in San Francisco’s history, doubling its current budget to fight homelessness.”
All San Jose really needs to do now is provide some transportation.
Maybe if San Jose offers some tax breaks, Google and Facebook would allow San Jose to borrow their buses for a few homeless relocation runs to SF.