Housing and Homelessness
"Our housing crisis is so serious that no one can address it alone. Working together, government, the private sector, non-profits, and the faith community can work to ensure that everyone has a safe place to lay their head at night – from temporary stays in emergency shelters, to eventually a place that is home."
- Sunnyvale Homeless Shelter -- Challenged by the 2014 demolition of the National Guard Amory in Sunnyvale after 20 years as the North County's only emergency homeless shelter, Supervisor Simitian finessed a series of short term solutions until a permanent replacement site opened for the 2016-2017 cold weather season. Supervisor Simitian also successfully pushed to expand the facility into a year-round operation and increase its capacity from 125 to 175 shelter beds. Learn more
- Mountain View Homeless Shelter -- Seeing the need for an additional North County cold weather shelter, Supervisor Simitian led a public-private partnership creating 50 beds for homeless families and single women at Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Mountain View. Additionally, the shelter became the cornerstone of a homeless resource center housed at the church. With funding from the County to help remodel the shelter's commercial kitchen, the site will offer a culinary skills job training program and an expanded free meal program, as well as showers and on-site case management. Learn more
- Lots of Love Safe Parking -- Partnering with Grace Christian Church in Mountain View, Supervisor Simitian developed a pilot program, Lots of Love Safe Parking. The goal is to give those living in cars or RVs an overnight spot in a church parking lot, along with access to the church’s facilities. Many people living in vehicles are first-time homeless, often for less than a year, and many have jobs. The ultimate goal is to transition the roughly 600 RV residents in Mountain View into permanent housing. Learn more
- Hygiene Services -- Providing basic hygiene for the homeless is challenging to address but essential for personal interactions. Access to regular personal hygiene resources increases the willingness of those without shelter to seek out services or job opportunities. Dignity on Wheels circulates two trailers, each equipped with private bathrooms, showers, and a washer and dryer. Twice a week the trailers visit San Jose, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, Mountain View and Palo Alto. Learn more
- Job Training and Placement -- Funding job creation can open the path to permanent housing. More than 80% of the homeless in Santa Clara County are unemployed with little access to job-training, transportation or support. With County support, the nonprofit Downtown Streets Team established its Business Outreach and Development effort: engaging the homeless in work projects that will retool skills and work habits as needed; and, developing relationships with local employers to identify job-placement opportunities for trainees. Learn more
- Housing for Homeless Veterans -- Through a collaborative effort by Santa Clara County, the City of San Jose, and the Housing Authority, the All the Way Home initiative focuses on expanding the supply of safe, affordable housing for homeless veterans, or those at risk of losing their housing, offering case management services and transitional housing programs. Its first year of operation saw 510 homeless veterans permanently housed. Learn more
- Teacher Housing -- Supervisor Simitian championed a housing development for teachers at a Santa Clara County-owned site in Palo Alto, with a goal of building at least 60 units of affordable housing in partnership with five nearby school and community college districts. The Board unanimously supported the effort and named Mercy Housing as the County’s development partner in cooperation with Abode Communities. In October 2019 the Supervisor announced a $25 million donation to the project from Facebook, which will increase in the number of homes built and allow the inclusion of additional school districts in southern San Mateo County. Learn more
- Buena Vista -- In a multiyear effort to save the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, Supervisor Simitian led a coalition of nonprofits, government stakeholders and community advocates in preserving 120 units of affordable housing, preventing the eviction of 400 low-income residents, and ensuring fair compensation for the owner of the land. Learn more
- House-Sharing Exchange -- Supervisor Simitian proposed a housing match program to help home-dwellers with a room to spare connect with vetted renters needing a place to live. The County-funded exchange will be run by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Learn more
- Keeping People Housed: Emergency Rental Assistance -- Supervisor Simitian initiated funding to target homelessness prevention. This funding allows at least 400 additional families seeking short term assistance each year to remain sheltered. As many as 83% of residents who receive emergency assistance stabilize their finances and remain housed. Learn more
- Affordable Housing for People with Disabilities -- In 2018 and at Supervisor Simitian's urging, the County committed $40 million to build affordable housing for developmentally disabled adults, a County population that has grown over 47% in the past decade. People with developmental disabilities have unique housing and resource needs; this housing includes supportive services specifically for those living with developmental disabilities and will be targeted for those in the very low or extremely low income brackets.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors awarded funding for three housing projects in 2019, one each in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and the City of Santa Clara. In 2020, Supervisor Simitian identified an additional County-owned site in Palo Alto that was coming available. He proposed, and the Board has agreed, to consider using this site for extremely low and very low income housing, which would include specialized units for developmentally disabled adults. Learn more
- Building Housing for Homeless -- Acting boldly and acknowledging that smaller incremental steps would not accomplish enough, the Board of Supervisors initiated a $950 million bond measure for developing affordable housing in the County. Measure A was approved by County voters in 2016, focusing funding on projects for the homeless and those subsisting on less than 30% of the area’s median income. By the end of 2018, the County had approved 1,921 units for construction, ahead of the planned schedule. Learn more