New study focuses on preventing low income families from becoming homeless in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The scramble to build affordable housing isn't happening fast enough to prevent low-income families from leaving the Bay Area. So a coalition of South Bay groups that identified that problem is working on solutions to address it.

San Jose's homeless population keeps growing, it's up 42% in just two years. While there are ambitious goals to build affordable housing, community groups and city leaders recognize those projects aren't being built fast enough to address what they call displacement.

Low-income families can't keep up with rising rent, so they move away. In doing so, they leave jobs important to the economy.

"Who will be teaching your children?" asked San Jose City Council Member Magdalena Carrasco. "Who will be carrying social worker case loads? Who will be making your coffee?"

The new study, 14 months in the making, has identified the most vulnerable residents as Hispanics or African Americans and women who head their households.

They are often forced out because of redevelopment, such as the area around Diridon station where Google is planning a large campus. Or by new upscale housing spurred by the extension of BART into San Jose.

Affordable housing is disappearing faster than it can be replaced.

"We can't just rely on affordable housing because it takes years to build," said Nadia Aziz of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, a participant in the study. "In the meantime, we have people facing eviction, facing homelessness, who are waiting for these affordable housing units to be built."
Residents told a community organizer they don't want to leave.

"San Jose is our city," said Victor Vasquez of SOMOS Mayfair. "I went to the public schools here. I work here, and I want my daughters to grow up and live here, too."

A task force is trying to develop short-range and long-term solutions to stop the exodus. Among those solutions, stronger tenant protection and creation of a housing resource center.

The task force plans to hold four more public meetings before submitting some recommendations to the San Jose City Council in April.

Here is a link to the full report: Ending Displacement in San Jose

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