Santa Clara County housing bond on track despite roadblocks

By Tran Nguyen, San Jose Spotlight, January 4, 2022

“A Civil Grand Jury says Santa Clara County’s $950 million housing bond is working as promised, giving it an ‘A’ rating in a recent report—despite the small number of low-income homes built since its approval.

“Six years into the initiative, Santa Clara County has finished 289 affordable units—about 6 percent of the ultimate goal … 41 percent of the county’s housing goal [is yet] to be determined.

“[The grand jury’s] December report found the county isn’t obligated to move construction ahead, as many roadblocks—such as oppositions and delays at the city level and difficulty securing matching state funds—are beyond the county’s authority.

“The report also found that construction costs and potential inflation have not affected Measure A developments. The county has committed $108 million to buy 16 properties to avoid land cost increases.

“One of the biggest roadblocks for affordable housing developers in the area is the ability to secure all funding sources, especially tax credits and bond allocations at the state level, the report notes.

“[Santa Clara County Assessor Larry] Stone said the pandemic has also slowed down numerous developments, as many workers in city housing and planning departments pivoted from their jobs to respond to COVID-19 needs. This has created a backlog across the county, he said.

“According to Stone, local governments also need to take drastic steps to increase density in their cities, which would allow more housing to come in.

“Office of Supportive Housing Director Consuelo Hernandez, who oversees Measure A funding for the county, didn’t respond to an inquiry about the report. She has previously defended the county’s approach to the housing bond.”

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