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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bay Area Voters Pass|Housing Relief Measures

(CN) — Bay Area cities passed housing bonds aimed at addressing both the homeless crisis and the lack of affordable housing for its residents.

In Santa Clara County, right in the heart of Silicon Valley, voters just barely passed Measure A, which will provide $950 million for the county to build nearly 5,000 affordable housing units, many of which will be used to house the homeless.

The nearly $1 billion measure required a two-thirds majority to pass and it just barely achieved it, according to current vote totals.

"When has there ever been a discussion of putting $700 million in one-time financing for extremely low-income housing in this county or any county that you know of?," Santa Clara Supervisor David Cortese said in the lead-up to the election.

The measure was not opposed by the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce or other business leaders in the valley, who chose to remain neutral or express mild concerns.

Voters approved a formula that calls for a $700 million expenditure on housing for extremely low-income individuals, with $100 million allocated for low-income individuals and families and another $100 million reserved for moderate-income individuals and families. The final $50 million would be used for first-time homebuyers' assistance programs.

Property tax increases will pay off the nearly billion-dollar effort, adding $12.66 to every $100,000 of assessed value. County officials say if their growth models are correct, the tax increase will retire the loan in 30 years.

Santa Clara's wasn't the only major housing measure to earn voter approval on Election Day.

Alameda County passed a similar housing measure by a wide measure, with 72 percent of voters in favor of the project. The yes vote means the county will allocate $580 million toward the construction of affordable housing, loans for first-time home buyers and upgrades to existing low-income housing.

Voters in the city of Oakland also passed a measure that will dedicate $600 million to an infrastructure bond that will peel off $100 million for affordable housing. About 82 percent of voters cast ballots for the yes side.

Across the Bay, San Francisco residents voted yes on Proposition C, which will carve out about $260 million for the city to purchase multi-unit complexes and preserve them for affordable housing. The measure garnered 76 percent of the votes.

Further down on the Peninsula, 69 percent of San Mateo County voters said yes to Measure K, 2 percent more than was required. The measure will also provide funds to affordable housing, homeless veterans and others vulnerable to housing issues.

Finally, the city of Berkeley witnessed its voters overwhelmingly approve measure Z1, which permits the construction of 500 below-market-rate housing units. The vote was 82 to 18 percent.

The Bay Area has been gripped by an affordability crisis in its housing market over the past decade, as wealthy tech workers have driven prices up in a market constricted by a lack of new housing.

Business Insider compiled a list of the most expensive cities to pay rent in the United States, with San Francisco topping the list. Nearby Oakland ranked fourth and San Jose took the fifth spot. Expensive rental prices have extended to other communities on the Southern Peninsula, including Palo Alto, Sunnyside, Menlo Park and Redwood City.

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