Nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley fuels affordable housing creation in South Bay

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Affordable housing is one of the region's most pressing needs. As ABC7 focuses on Building a Better Bay Area, tech companies, foundations and local government agencies are stepping up their efforts to help developers fill the need.

It's projects like Villas on the Park that's nearing completion on North Second St. in downtown San Jose that exemplifies progress. The Housing Trust Silicon Valley has raised $112 million from tech companies and foundations to loan to mostly nonprofit developers to start these projects.

"Companies like NetApp, Cisco, LinkedIn and then most recently Google," said Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, "They've been able to provide us the capital we need in order to start-up affordable housing developments throughout the Bay Area."

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Loans from the tech fund have gone to more than 20 developers to create 2,300 units of affordable housing. Some are still empty lots awaiting groundbreaking. Many sites are near public transit and jobs.

NetApp's general counsel, Matt Fawcett, told ABC7 News that "one of the important things that NetApp did early on was recognize the importance of its relationship with and its responsibilities to the broader communities where we live and work." The Sunnyvale headquartered cloud services and data management company made a $10 million investment in the Housing Trust Silicon Valley Tech Fund.

"We encourage all tech companies to get involved in affordable housing," Fawcett added.

The challenge for affordable housing developers is finding land with competing interest from commercial developers. One site at Delmas and Auzerais in San Jose, near the planned Google project and the Diridon transit center, is going to be the site of 130 affordable housing units.


"Every piece of land they're competing for so is a luxury housing developer or so is an office developer... Sometimes so is a city or county looking to site another hospital or office building," said Zwick.

Many commercial projects are underway for high-rise office towers as Silicon Valley continues to grow jobs. However, the need for housing continues to grow, too.

The Housing Trust Silicon Valley has had a banner year, lending over $73 million in 2019. That's an increase of $36 million from last year's $37 million.

Another one of its programs is also helping individuals with down payments to buy homes. A family recently was able to buy an $800,000 house. To come up with a 20 percent down payment, it contributed $24,000 or 3 percent while the Housing Trust was able to lend $136,000 or 17 percent.

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