Milpitas’ barrier to building affordable housing is money

Milpitas’ barrier to building affordable housing is money

Milpitas needs to find ways to build more affordable housing and preserve what already exists.

That’s according to housing advocates and policymakers who discussed the city’s affordable housing stock at a panel discussion hosted by San Jose Spotlight on Thursday. The state requires Milpitas to add 6,713 homes by 2031, with more than half of them below market rate — a requirement the city has struggled to meet in the past. All panelists agreed that financing is the biggest barrier to building more affordable housing in Milpitas and the greater Silicon Valley region.

“At the end of the day, we can try to come up with political solutions, we can modify specific plans and so on, but it comes down to money,” Milpitas Councilman Anthony Vann said. “That will be the biggest factor for the developer (and) for the city.”

Fan spoke alongside other panelists including Huascar Castro, director of housing and transportation policy at Working Partnerships USA, and Silicon Valley director of home policy Matthew Reed. The Santa Clara County Housing Authority sponsored the event.

Funds to support housing development come from a variety of sources, including county and state grants and budget allocations. Reid stressed the importance of financing local matches, which he said was a challenge everywhere. Cities that change zoning restrictions could reduce the resources needed to build affordable housing, he said.

“There are ways to achieve cost savings that allow us to leverage things beyond just money to make things more attractive,” Reid said.

Another source of funding is through various partnerships to address specific needs, including working with businesses to develop housing to support a specific workforce or working with the county or state to secure funding avenues.

One of those partners is the Milpitas Unified School District. Fann talked about a development at 1355 California Circle that is expected to provide 206 homes, most of which will be workforce housing for the school district.

About 40% of Milpitas renters spend more than a third of their income on rent, meaning they are rent-burdened. Castro said considering tenant protections will be important for the city to prevent vulnerable residents from being displaced or falling into homelessness.

Milpitas has 274 homeless residents according to the 2022 county census, which is an undercount. The city has historically faced criticism for a lack of non-housing support.

“There is a lot of room for Milpitas to do more for our tenants, who make up a large number of Milpitas residents,” Castro said.

Other partnerships could preserve existing affordable housing or support tenants, with Castro saying the city could partner with nonprofits to preserve existing affordable housing.

One example of affordable housing preservation has been done around Sunnyhills Apartments, Reed added. The complex offers 149 subsidized apartments, which he said contains about 15% of the city’s affordable housing stock. Developer JMK Investments renewed its contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year.

“The general point is that we have too few homes that people can afford, and we risk losing the homes that we do have,” Reid said.

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at (email protected) or @sakokanstra On X, formerly known as Twitter.

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