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San Jose voters to decide on $450 million affordable housing bond

San Jose voters are considering a bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to fund approximately $450 million in affordable housing projects.

Measure V would fund housing for senior citizens, teachers, service workers and houseless individuals in an effort to ease a mounting housing crisis.

The annual tax rate to service the bond would be about $0.08 per $1,000 in assessed property value, and the measure would require a two-thirds majority to pass.

After real estate website Zillow ranked the city the most unaffordable metro area in the U.S., Mayor Sam Liccardo began using the dramatic statistic to push for the new bond measure.

Santa Clara County passed the similar Measure A in 2016, approving a $950 million bond measure to fund homeless programs. The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County have opposed Measure V on the ballot, saying they haven’t seen results from Measure A and that the new bond will only bring more debt.

In an opposition statement, the two groups said slow bureaucratic processes and red tape are the true barriers to affordable housing in San Jose.

A group of advocates on the ballot led by former Mayor Tom McEnery disagreed, saying the city has cut back restrictions on accessory dwelling units and streamlined the planning process in recent years. They say the city now needs a larger supply of housing that is also more affordable.

Liccardo said:

“Obviously we just need more resources — period. … Measure A was great, but we just need more.”

While the county measure primarily funded permanent supportive housing, Measure V would allow the city to construct navigation centers and transitional “micro-houses” for individuals who need temporary housing to get back on their feet.

Liccardo said:

“It also enables solutions for a lot of other people who are struggling, what we call ‘the missing middle’ … Everybody who’s renting in this city right now is struggling paycheck to paycheck.”

For example, funding from the measure could be directed toward subsidies on rent-controlled units to encourage the private sector to invest in more units.

Liccardo said:

“This bond measure enables that kind of flexibility.”

If the measure passes, funding would be restricted to building new housing or purchasing land for new housing. This means it couldn’t be used for emergency housing methods, like motel vouchers or shelter programs currently offered by the city.

The bond won’t be an immediate remedy to a growing population in need of housing, but Liccardo said Measure V is a governmental response to a crisis that local leaders, community groups, faith organizations and citizen initiatives have been trying to tackle for years.

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