Effort underway to help find solutions to address Bay Area's housing affordability crisis

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Affordable housing-- It's an issue that's generating lots of complaints but scant solutions. But a concerted effort is underway in the South Bay to identify ways to solve the crisis at the grassroots level and at the ballot box.

Lila Gemellos took a break this week from her work on a mural she's completing at Santana Row to join housing advocates and others to brainstorm. They are trying to find solutions to address affordable housing. As an artist, she hasn't always earned enough to pay the rent.

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"Public art is absolutely how people experience the city, and so we absolutely should be providing affordable housing for artists."

These are the startling facts about what it takes to afford to rent or to buy a house in San Jose.

"In San Jose, you have to earn $52 an hour to afford the average price rent," said Kevin Zwick, CEO of the Housing Trust Silicon Valley, "and if you want to try to buy a house, you have to have a salary of over $250,000."

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is in the second year of a three-year effort to get people to identify solutions by gathering around tables.

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"Then we're talking with people how they can go into their communities, talk to their neighbors, talk to the City Council people, to try to do a more organic approach to at least getting people talking about this," said Greg Avis, the foundation's interim CEO.

Year-by-year, it's getting tougher for people to come up with down payments to buy a house. Zillow research says it now takes nearly 22 years of saving to come up with a 20-percent down on a median-priced San Jose house. Twenty years ago, it took 10 years of saving.

Voters on Nov. 6 also are going to asked to approve potential solutions-- two statewide propositions and in San Jose, a local measure V, that will raise billions of dollars for affordable housing and for homelessness prevention housing for individuals with mental health issues.
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