San Jose mayor wants to use permanent affordable housing funds for interim housing, creek cleanup

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

San Jose creeks and rivers have a pollution problem and a study indicated almost 90% is a result of homeless encampments.

That is the new factor that once again has Mayor Matt Mahan proposing the city take money from Measure E, essentially earmarked for permanent affordable housing, and use it for homeless issues including interim housing and creek cleanup.

The first argument has been over interim housing, and some of those who oppose the mayor’s plan include people currently using interim housing.

They say that if too much money keeps going to the temporary homes, they will never get permanent affordable homes.

“A good analogy I was told is, ‘look at middle schools and high schools. If they have a bunch of middle schools but they don’t have high schools to go to, that causes a problem,’” interim housing resident, Michael Morand, said. 

Debora Townley, a woman who has now found permanent affordable housing, agreed.

“We do need interim housing for some people, but the large number of beds that they’re wanting to create with interim housing It just isn’t necessary,” she said. “And it ties up a lot of funding that could be used for permanent affordable housing.”

But San Jose has been found in violation of the Clean Water Act and faces fines of $60,000 per day per pollutant if they don’t clean up the problem.  

And that means cleaning up encampments and getting people off the streets quickly.

“We need to divert more of those dollars to addressing that immediate crisis on our streets to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” Mahan said. “But this budget allows us to still put anywhere from 20 to 40 million dollars into permanent affordable housing.”

The Santa Clara County Association of Realtors drew the wrath of homeless advocates last year because those advocates said they felt realtors were fighting to block money from being used for interim housing.

The association says that was not accurate and that this year, they fully support the city plan.

“Affordable housing is always a challenge because it takes so many resources to fund the development of it and it does take a long time to build. So, yes there’s probably be some short term impact but we really need housing of all types and we need to create an environment where housing of all types can be built,” Neil Collins, CEO of SCC Association of Realtors, said. 

The public hearing will take place Tuesday afternoon at city hall.

It is the first of two sessions that will be held before the council makes its decision in June.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.