Grappling with huge cuts in funding even as the need is exploding, advocates for affordable housing in Silicon Valley are calling for a major effort by local governments to find hundreds of millions of more dollars for the effort.
In a report released Monday, the Housing Trust Silicon Valley and the Cities Association of Santa Clara County describe a housing crisis stemming from the rapid rise in valley home and rental prices, exacerbated by federal funding cutbacks and the dissolution of community redevelopment agencies in 2011.
"The amount of money that's available has plummeted, and it is not going to come back unless new sources are developed. At the same time, the need is exploding," said Kevin Zwick, CEO of the Housing Trust.
San Jose is the fourth-most expensive city in the country for renters, the report said. In Santa Clara County, 109,000 households pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, and 42,000 pay more than half their gross income, the report said. Seven percent of Santa Clara households are considered overcrowded by the U.S. Census Bureau definition of more than one person per room.
More than half of new jobs in the area will pay $11 an hour or less in the next five years, the report added, citing California Employment Development Department figures.
The loss of the redevelopment agencies has knocked a $72.5 million hole in funds available for affordable housing compared with what was available five years ago, according to the report.
Combined with other cuts, what's left for the county's cities is about $47.3 million a year, compared with the $126.2 million available in 2008.
"That is enough for 300 units a year, which nowhere near meets affordable housing needs in the region," Zwick said.
A recent court ruling stalled inclusionary zoning for rentals, which requires developers to set aside units for lower income renters. The building industry lobbied against a bill that would have restored it, calling it "a tax on new residential development." The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
"We favor tax credits for building affordable housing and fee relief -- that kind of thing -- to lower the cost of housing in certain areas where cities and counties feel it's appropriate to incentivize builders to provide lower cost housing, rather than passing it on to the back of other homebuyer," said David Cogdill, CEO of the California Building Industry Association.
Zwick said the valley needs $222 million more to meet yearly affordable housing goals set by the state, according to the report, which lists five options for raising the money:
The California Homes and Jobs Act (SB391), currently in the state Assembly, would raise $500 million for affordable housing. "That's less than half what we had statewide when we had redevelopment agencies," said Zwick, "but it's a good step."
The study defined affordable housing as subsidized multifamily rental housing affordable to people earning 50 percent or less of the area median income.
Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419. Follow him on Twitter.com/petecarey.