North County teacher housing
Supervisor Simitian championed a 110-unit housing development for teachers and school employees at a Santa Clara County-owned site in Palo Alto, in partnership with school and community college districts in northern Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County, as well as Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which provided a $25 million grant to the project. The Board unanimously supported the effort and named Mercy Housing as the County’s development partner in cooperation with Abode Communities. The project is anticipated to begin construction in spring of 2023.
West Valley teacher housing takes first step
Based on interest from local cities and schools, Supervisor Simitian and colleague Supervisor Otto Lee asked County Administration to pursue options for developing teacher housing in the West Valley. The proposal followed the Board’s approval of a pilot educator workforce housing project in Palo Alto serving school districts in northern Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County. Simitian said news of that approval led school district and city officials in the West Valley to reach out to see if a similar project might be possible in their region.
Buena Vista Mobile Home Park
In a multiyear effort to save the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, Supervisor Simitian led a coalition of nonprofits, government stakeholders, and community advocates in preserving 120 units of affordable housing, preventing the eviction of 400 low-income residents, and ensuring fair compensation for the owner of the land.
Keeping people housed: emergency rental assistance
Recognizing that the human and economic costs of preventing homelessness are often lower than assisting individuals who have already lost their housing, Supervisor Simitian led an effort in 2015 to provide our County's emergency assistance agencies with rental assistance funds and housing specialists to assist community members in retaining and finding housing. The County has since built a Homelessness Prevention System in partnership with Destination Home and numerous community partners to provide critical assistance to low-income households at risk of becoming homeless, including through temporary financial assistance, legal support, case management, and other services.
Affordable housing for people with disabilities
In 2018 and at Supervisor Simitian's urging, the County committed $40 million to support the development of affordable housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). People with I/DD often have fixed incomes that can make it difficult to access and maintain housing, and are especially vulnerable if they become homeless. As of November 2022, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has awarded funding for seven housing projects across the County in Milpitas, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, enabling the creation of more than 800 new affordable housing units, including 140 set aside for individuals with I/DD. Included in these is a project in Palo Alto Supervisor Simitian championed in 2020 located at a County-owned site Simitian identified. Known as Mitchell Park Place, the project is a partnership between the County, nonprofit housing developer Eden Housing, and AbilityPath (a nonprofit that provides services to residents with I/DD). It will include 25 units for residents in this population, as well as space for AbilityPath to provide services.
Housing for people experiencing homelessness
Acting boldly and acknowledging that smaller incremental steps would not accomplish enough, the Board of Supervisors initiated a $950 million bond measure for developing affordable housing in the County. Measure A was approved by County voters in 2016, with an emphasis on funding projects that include housing residents experiencing homeless and those living on less than 30% of the area’s median income. As of November 2022, the County had approved funding for more than 5,000 units across nine cities, including new apartments, renovated apartments, and acquired and rehabilitated units. When all these developments are in operation, these units will provide new permanent housing for more than 14,000 people, including more than 5,000 previously unhoused individuals and family members.
Working together to bring Los Altos affordable housing
In partnership with the City of Los Altos and nonprofit housing developer EAH Housing, the County has been working to develop Los Altos’ first all-affordable housing project at 330 Distel Circle. County funding to support the development will come from the County's Measure A Affordable Housing Bond, a $950 million affordable housing bond approved by the voters in 2016. Supervisor Simitian who represents Los Altos on the Board of Supervisors, has “been pushing for more Measure A dollars and affordable housing units to make their way to the North County and West Valley communities,” including Los Altos. The project has since received land use approval from the City of Los Altos, bringing it one step closer to construction.
Housing for farm workers fills a much-needed gap
In 2021, County Supervisor Joe Simitian and colleague Supervisor Mike Wasserman sponsored a proposal that directed County staff to identify options for providing affordable housing for agricultural workers in southern Santa Clara County. In June 2022, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the development of 28 new affordable housing units for local agricultural workers as part of the affordable housing project known as The Magnolias in Morgan Hill. These units build upon the 30 additional units of affordable housing set aside for low-income agricultural workers the Board had previously approved funding for in another affordable housing development in Morgan Hill known as Royal Oak Village. In addition, the County is looking to develop a Farm Labor Housing Pilot Loan Program.