Opinion: San Jose Council Should Vote Yes on Program to Finance More Affordable Housing

The City of San José has the opportunity to preserve and create workforce housing using no new taxes or taxpayer dollars.

No, it’s not too good to be true; it’s a relatively new concept that the state of California established to allow for joint powers authorities (JPAs) to raise money from private investors to help finance low- and moderate-income housing. So far, there are two organizations in the state working to buy and build desperately needed workforce housing: California Community Housing Agency (CalCHA) and California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA).

Those two have been buying and managing Class A rental units with no expenses to the municipalities where the developments are located. Once purchased, the units are deed restricted to an affordable rental level for new tenants who earn 80% to 120% of the area median income (AMI). This is a gradual process that does not displace the current residents.

These organizations need permission to operate in each city, and San Jose has the opportunity to work with both. Once it does, it allows private investment to flow into San José to preserve and develop housing for the “missing middle,” workforce housing, and creates a win for taxpayers, a win for workers, and a win for the city. The city of San Jose is poised to vote on this item May 11.

By all measures, the city of San Jose is falling short in the production of affordable workforce housing.

The pace of construction on extremely low- and very low-income housing has picked up slightly with an influx of taxpayer dollars and development fees, like Santa Clara County’s Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, San Jose Measure E Real Property Transfer Tax, Residential Impact Fee, Inclusive Housing In-Lieu Fee, and the Commercial Impact Fee.

Meanwhile, market rate units continue to outpace moderate- and low-income production, and housing for the “missing middle” has been forgotten. The city’s own Housing Element Annual Report from 2019 showed zero units of deed restricted moderate-income housing completed or in the pipeline for the 2015–2023-time horizon.

We have an opportunity to begin to quickly change this with zero taxpayer dollars and zero financial risk to the city by having the city become an additional member of the joint power authorities.

How it Works  

CalCHA and CSCDA issue tax-exempt revenue bonds they use to purchase market rate developments and convert them to deed restricted, affordable housing. After the bonds are paid off (typically over 15 to 30 years) the property goes to the city or its designated agent, while the deed restrictions continue to keep the units affordable.

These organizations are already operating in many cities all over California including Glendale, Hayward, Livermore and Mountain View. Furthermore, because the city will not control or manage the JPA, there is zero liability for taxpayers and there is no recourse to the city if any particular investment fails.

CalCHA and CSDA benefits include:

  •       Preventing displacement
  •       Expanding housing affordability
  •       Requiring no new taxes or fees
  •       Available to us immediately
  •       No property management responsibilities for the life of the bonds
  •       City gains assets once bonds are paid off
  •       Excess proceeds go back to the City for housing the unhoused or other priorities

Membership in these organizations is a win for our workforce, who will gain access to affordable housing units; a win for taxpayers, who won’t be burdened with yet another tax or fee; and a win for the city, which can focus our limited housing dollars on helping the most vulnerable and meeting its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals.

The program also enhances the whole housing ecosystem, since the property owners who sell to CalCHA- and CSCDA-funded projects will have freed up their funds to reinvest and create new housing supply.

Unfortunately, because this is a relatively new concept, San Jose staff is not recommending going forward because of the unknowns and the loss of property tax revenues, as these units would be exempt—like all the other low-income projects in the city.

What can be done is to allow a pilot program allowing a limited number of projects to go through so we do not take on more risk than the city is willing to take.

Please join me, other cities, the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors (SCCAOR), Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), Eden Housing, [email protected], The Bay Area Council, Stronger Foundations, the California Apartment Association (CAA) and others in supporting this win-win-win idea.

Residents can attend the next San Jose City Council meeting on May 11 after 1:30pm or send letters to elected representatives asking them to support workforce housing.

Johnny Khamis is a former San Jose councilman who is currently running for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 1 seat. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

10 Comments

  1. please

    this is a scam, a boondoggle for NGOs, consultants, and CEQA lawyers

    how many times are these people gonna play you chumps

  2. SJ Kulak,

    Instead of being nothing but a critic, do something constructive.

    Provide us with an alternative. If you think this idea is not wise.

    Other than you constantly complaining over and over again.

    That is NOT CONSTRUCTIVE.

  3. i do something constructive, my wealth houses over 100 people at 20% median household income in the markets they live, all while generating public revenue in the form of property and income taxes instead of being a public cost center like social or affordable housing

    its call market rate housing in political environments that dont constraint development out of envy and resentment, which motivates you and the rest of the dominate ideology in blue populations

    price is powerful information only to be ignored by land use tyrants. build build build until the price is commodity level, not investment level

  4. SJ KULAK you wrote:

    “i do something constructive, my wealth houses over 100 people at 20% median household income in the markets they live, all while generating public revenue in the form of property and income taxes instead of being a public cost center like social or affordable housing.

    WAIT YOUR PROPERTY IS NOT IN CALIFORNIA, YOU ARE DOING NOTHING HERE! You wrote:

    “its call market rate housing in political environments that dont constraint development out of envy and resentment, which motivates you and the rest of the dominate ideology in blue populations”

    IF YOU AR$E NOT SOLVING THE PROBLEM HERE YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. You wrote:

    “price is powerful information only to be ignored by land use tyrants. build build build until the price is commodity level, not investment level”

    Yes build Public Option housing like suggested because you cannot RELY on the Private Options.

  5. baaaahaha

    says the tool hiding behind single mothers to not pay rent

    not paying rent is not constructive, but destructive, so you should shut your mouth about whats constructive

    not building market rate homes is destructive as well

    as much as your narcissism wants to believe California is special, its not. when a 1000 sqft house in Sunnyvale goes for 2M, the solution is obvious and time tested, build houses and widen the roads, not build 500 free units to look like somethings getting done, that obviously is not solving any problems

  6. In a way this reminds me of private activity bonds for Brightline West (in this state’s case, and Nevada’s) and Fiona Ma’s airhead bubbling about how wonderful it is, but for public housing. Mr. Khamis is not so air-headed, but still, it’s like Slow Food: Slow Public Housing featuring one of today’s fads, actually fascist, as the Left has often been since the 1930s: featuring a Public-Private Partnership.

    (Nobody dared reach that far with the high-speed rail project, especially when failing to find the private parties the suckers were told would come to fund it!)

  7. SJ KULAK you wrote:

    “says the tool hiding behind single mothers to not pay rent”

    Trying to change the subject again, your only approach? You wrote:

    “not paying rent is not constructive, but destructive, so you should shut your mouth about whats constructive”

    I paid my rent as required under law, and in fact I now look to getting a REFUND check from my landlord when the 100% Rent Assistance gets passed. I will use that $425 a month refund since October of last year to hire an attorney to force my landlord to pay me back another $10,000 because he failed to maintain the building. But more importantly he will have to pay that to ALL UNITS of the building too an additional 10 units. So don’t even go there. You’re just trying to avoid the fact again:

    ““i do something constructive, my wealth houses over 100 people at 20% median household income in the markets they live, all while generating public revenue in the form of property and income taxes instead of being a public cost center like social or affordable housing.

    WAIT YOUR PROPERTY IS NOT IN CALIFORNIA, YOU ARE DOING NOTHING HERE! You wrote:

    “its call market rate housing in political environments that dont constraint development out of envy and resentment, which motivates you and the rest of the dominate ideology in blue populations”

    IF YOU ARE NOT SOLVING THE PROBLEM HERE YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. You wrote:

    “price is powerful information only to be ignored by land use tyrants. build build build until the price is commodity level, not investment level”

    Yes build Public Option housing like suggested because you cannot RELY on the Private Options.

    not building market rate homes is destructive as well”

    You wrote:

    “as much as your narcissism wants to believe California is special, its not. when a 1000 sqft house in Sunnyvale goes for 2M, the solution is obvious and time tested, build houses and widen the roads, not build 500 free units to look like somethings getting done, that obviously is not solving any problems”

    Wait if we have 500 new FREE UNITS, boy will the prices drop for housing in the area. That is ACTUALLY BUILDING which is what you suggested right? You are not making any sense at this point.

  8. HB you wrote:

    “I smell bacon”

    WAIT! That was the term used in CBers and the 70s-80s as a disrespectful term for Police Officers. Perhaps you are accidently expressing that you have no respect for law enforcement. Actually you do when the laws are not agreeing with you. THenyou said:

    “ — NGO, contractors, and politician bacon and plenty of it.”

    Well you can’t build anything without Contractors, right? And why not give them more opportunity to earn a living or secure their employment? Right? Aren’t you also pro business like me? Some people are so inconsistent regarding their messages here aren’t they? You also said:

    “Oh, I forgot Wall Street and the attorneys.”

    Why not help more business make some more money by doing something CONSTRUCTIVE? Again, you really don’t have a consistent mindset. Of course that is because you also said this:

    HB you constantly want to rewrite your history when caught being nothing but a instigator of more hostility and perhaps violence, Theis is what you wrote again”

    ““Here is a little data that supports the idea that at least half of the trans people are killed by their queer partners. Another huge risk factor about trans women is if they engage in street prostitution. A number of other articles suggest that the victims were engaged in prostitution.

    Very hard to get good stats but it would appear that the queer community is the biggest part of the problem.

    ” (From the SJ Inside Article Supporters Gather for Murdered San Jose Transgender Woman By Bay City News/ April 26, 2021)

    You then provided only the link to the ABCNews Report titled “Transgender woman’s murder underscores problem of partner violence plaguing community, advocates say: Many transgender people killed this year were targeted by their partners., ByKarma Allen September 13, 2019, 1:15 AM

    But lets go into what that report said:

    “Tracy Williams, a 22-year-old transgender woman from Houston, had a creative mind and was always smiling and dancing. People who knew her said she had a star quality and seemed destined to become a performer.

    But like a number of other transgender women, Williams appears to have fallen victim to violence at the hands of an intimate partner — an issue that while not particular to the transgender community, has had a profound effect on it.”

    Also:

    “Police charged her boyfriend, 25-year-old Joshua Bourgeois, with her murder in late August. It’s unclear what may have led him to allegedly kill the young woman, but her friends said she tried to break up with him just before her death.
    Bourgeois was being held on a $195,000 bond on charges of murder and burglary as of Wednesday. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29. His court-appointed attorney, Feroz Farook Merchant, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.”

    Also:

    “A 2015 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law found that between 31% and 50% of transgender people have experienced dating violence at some point in their lives, compared to between 28% and 33% of the general population.”

    And :

    “”Trans women of color have the combination of being discriminated against because of race and gender identity, and oftentimes, they end up leaving high school without a diploma,” she said. “They’re hard to employ anywhere, so they’re often on the street, trying to make a living through the underground economy. And that just opens us up to lots of risks.”

    Monica Roberts, a Houston-area transgender rights advocate, called Williams’ murder a reminder of the work that needs to be done when it comes to gender equality.”

    And:

    “She said many deaths involve “excessive levels of violence” that should be classified as hate crimes. Roberts pointed to fatal domestic violence cases like the one involving 33-year-old Yazmin Payne, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in the Los Angeles apartment they shared in 2015. Ezekiel Jamal Dear was found guilty of stabbing her multiple times and setting the apartment on fire.

    He was acquitted of the more serious charge of murder and found guilty of one count each of voluntary manslaughter and unlawfully causing a fire. He was sentenced to 12 years in state prison in October 2017, angering transgender rights advocates who had called for much harsher penalties. According to the California Department of Corrections website, he is eligible for parole in March 2025.”

    And:

    “”I think it’s worse for trans people and, to some degree, LGBT people, because when we’re young, we’re often told that we’ll be alone the rest of our lives,” Loree Cook-Daniels said. “So there’s a there’s a sense of ‘I gotta find somebody because it’s going to be really hard. And then once I’ve found somebody, I better hold on to them.’ So, even if the relationship turns violent, people may stay in the relationship because they’d rather be with a violent partner then no partner at all.”

    She said the death of Williams, and so many other slain trans women, is further proof that America needs to do more to show that transgender lives matter.

    Roberts echoed her sentiment.

    “We have the Republican Party demonizing the trans community along with the Roman Catholic Church and conservative pastors,” Roberts said. “When you throw that negativity out in the atmosphere and demonize a group, it’s not long before people absorb it and start aiming violence at those groups.”

    So please stop trying to mislead the people here. This is the TEXT from that report you linked to here (https://abcnews.go.com/US/transgender-womans-murder-underscores-problem-partner-violence-plaguing/story?id=65203137)

    And your own typing in effect reinforced the message here. Your writing is nothing but attacks on others while providing no constructive solutions to the problems, like so many others that I have had to correct because if I didn’t the misinformation would be accepted by the readers from your “circle of authority of anonymous posters”

    Then LATER you write:

    “To her friends and family: I am very sorry for your loss.” (From the SJ Inside Article A Quest for Love: Natalia Smut’s Death Highlights Trans Struggles By Katie Lauer/ April 28, 2021)

    Which I responded:

    “WAIT A SEC? You first degrade Natalia in the previouse story found here (From the SJ Inside Article Supporters Gather for Murdered San Jose Transgender Woman By Bay City News/ April 26, 2021)

    Then now you just say I am sorry for your loss?

    OMG this is the best example of how many have conducted themselves, coming to conclusions about people, openly criticizing them, and then say “SORRY”?”

    You responded :

    “TO: Steven:

    Your comments posted under this article are in extremely poor taste (actually, disgusting). I commented in a different news article that was discussing, in addition to the loss of Natalia, the problem of violence against trans people (which should never happen — and, of course, the same is true for Cis people).”

    But you said that Trans people being hurt or killed were “Prostitutes” Right? You can’t just make this kind off statement and then try to claim the high ground on different stories, and topics. The fact is you just can’t stay on message.

    The fact is you SELECTIVELY perceive the messages you WANT to hear. And draw inaccurate conclusions from other stories claiming to be accurate only because you provided “THE LINK” to the story. Deception by omission is deception.

    In the end the last paragraph from the ABCNews report “Transgender woman’s murder underscores problem of partner violence plaguing community, advocates say Many transgender people killed this year were targeted by their partners. ByKarma Allen September 13, 2019, 1:15 AM describes you to a T regarding this topic even though you are trying to say you didn’t say it:

    “”We have the REPUBLICAN PARTY demonizing the trans community along with the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and CONSERVATIVE PASTORS,” Roberts said. “When you THROW THAT NEGATIVITY OUT IN THE ATMOSPHERE AND DEMONIZE A GROUP, it’s not long BEFORE PEOPLE ABSORB IT AND START AIMING VIOLENCE AT THOSE GROUPS.”

    What we have here is people trying to on one hand clearly promote hostility to anyone they want, and on the other hand try to claim they are RIGHTEOUS and want the AUTHORITY to dictate how everyone must live for THEIR OWN BENEFIT

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