San Jose will build more affordable housing

December 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
In San Jose, a plan to create more affordable housing is moving forward, but supporters believe there isn't nearly enough and critics claim it will squeeze builders right out of business.

A heavyweight issue was discussed in San Jose if they should have an inclusionary zoning ordinance, which would create more affordable housing in the city.

"Our CEOs tell us on an annual basis that housing is a top impediment to doing business in Silicon Valley," said Shiloh Ballard, from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Those for and against updating the policy brought their arguments to council chambers. Housing advocates want 15 to 20 percent of all new developments with 11 or more units, to be deemed affordable. And they want the policy to take effect by the year 2013 at the latest.

"In these tough economic times when we've reached the lowest housing production in the modern history of our city, that we shouldn't pass any policies that add cost to the production of housing at that time," said Erik Schoennauer, a land use consultant.

Groups opposing the idea say it's an unfair burden to place on developers who are already losing money in the housing market right now. For those facing foreclosure and who recently attended a mortgage loan modification seminar in San Jose, having more housing options could've made all the difference.

Maria Salazar's mortgage rate recently re-set. Her household income is $85,000 a year, well below the $126,000 needed to qualify for affordable housing. She said if more lower priced homes were available to her three years ago when she bought her $725,000 home, she wouldn't be in this situation.

In the end the council voted in favor of a new policy which once in place would create 450 new affordable housing units every year.


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