About three months ago, before the global pandemic struck and locked us all down, we were among the dozens of people standing together on a sunny Friday morning to celebrate the grand opening of Villas on the Park.
Built by Affirmed Housing and PATH Ventures, the new development created 84 apartments with all the amenities: a spacious rooftop garden, a fully outfitted computer lab, generous community gathering spaces and a host of onsite services for all residents.
As with most grand openings, it was a time for elected officials, neighborhood leaders, and business owners to celebrate a beautiful new building.
Yet for the two of us —one of whom helped plant the initial seeds for this project years ago, and the other who has now found a true home at Villas on the Park—the day represented something much bigger.
It marked an important step towards bringing our most vulnerable neighbors home.
You see, when Santa Clara County voters approved the $950 million Measure A housing bond in 2016, this was the dream. High quality, affordable housing developments for people in our community to live in and thrive.
And it took more than just money. It took courage, will, and vision to get us here.
The passing of Measure A was all about our collective commitment to build places for the folks who had nowhere else to go.
But Villas is really just the beginning of this story, as many of our other brothers and sisters are still on the streets. And, despite 2,900 apartments being funded in seven cities across the county over the past four years, it’s a story that just won’t be finished soon.
We know it takes time to build this housing. We know it takes land.
We also know it takes people coming together to demand that we do more now, or nothing will get done. But when we all get to come home each night to a warm, clean, safe home, we know that it’s worth it.
Ericka Avila is a resident of PATH Villas on the Park. Leslye Corsiglia is the executive director of [email protected] Opinions are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches and letters to [email protected].