Dozens protest lack of affordable housing in San Jose

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ByMatt Keller KGO logo
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Dozens protest lack of affordable housing in San Jose
Dozens of protesters made their frustrations known as federal, state, and local leaders met in San Jose to discuss the lack of affordable housing in the Silicon Valley.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The lack of affordable housing in Silicon Valley has reached a critical level. Federal, state, and local leaders are meeting in San Jose to try to find solutions. Dozens of protesters made their frustrations known on Thursday morning.

The good news in Santa Clara County is they have a booming economy with a lot of jobs. The bad news is that many of those workers can't afford to live there.

"What's going on now is rents are increasing so rapidly that working people can no longer be able to live here," said a demonstrator.

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The message from the protest outside the Santa Clara County government building in downtown San Jose was clear -- rent and housing prices are too high, pushing many workers in construction and the service industries out of Silicon Valley and into the Central Valley to find cheaper places to live. That means they're travelling at least four hours on the road every day.

"It is a big problem because what we do is physical work," said Salvador Munoz with Aborers Local 270. "When they have to get up at 4:30 or 3:00 in the morning to drive to work they're already tired when they come to work. They don't perform as well and they don't produce as well."

Housing advocates say seniors are also being pushed out of the county and state because of a lack of affordable housing.

The homeless population of about 6,500 people in San Jose is also a big issue. Some have housing vouchers that are useless because there are so few landlords who will take them.

On Thursday morning, local, state and federal leaders held an informational meeting about the crisis.

Most, if not all levels of government, are chipping in. But the reality is the more jobs, the more people, and the more homes you need.

"I don't think most people are saying well let's have a bad economy and a high unemployment rate," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose. "No, what we need to do is make sure there is housing for the people getting those jobs."

The city of San Jose and the county recently announced a program to house all homeless veterans in the area. It's a noble effort. But if successful, it would only take 10 percent of the homeless population off the streets.