Affordable housing crisis makes progress in Assembly

Affordable housing has become a major crisis in California over the years. With housing production not keeping up with job growth, price are rising sky-high, and the middle class is struggling to keep up.

Recently, Google announced its intentions to expand around downtown San Jose’s Diridon Station, bringing with it 20,000 new jobs, and this plan has received much praise, as well as concerns.

State Assemblymember Evan Low said “San Jose has long struggled with … job to housing imbalance. While Google campus could help stabilize the city’s finances and bring in much economic development, it also comes with the challenges of catastrophic housing crisis.”

An increase in homelessness, traffic gridlock, and displacement of low and moderate income residents are a few of Low’s fears.

“The cost of housing is skyrocketing,” Low said. “We need to streamline a process to create more housing.” Low criticized how a medium priced single family home in Santa Clara county cost almost a million dollars, pricing out many middle-income earners.

One housing bill Low successfully passed into law is AB-2501.

Before this bill passed, “the laws in the books [contained] a number of ambiguous provisions that [discouraged] developers from utilizing the density bonus,” Assemblymember Low said. “But AB-2501 [clarifies] the intent of the bonus law, limiting the ability of local government to pose additional requirements on developers.”

Assemblymember Low also tried to pass AB-1182, but it failed to pass due to budgetary reasons. According to a Low’s fact sheet on AB-1182, this bill, “would help address the housing instability for teachers in high-cost counties through a Teacher Housing Assistance Pilot Program.”

Patrick Ahrens, Senior Representative for Evan Low in California Assembly District 28, emphasized how ridiculous it is that teachers have to commute long hours because they cannot afford to live in the area they teach.

To solve this issue, “it’s going to take the private sector, the public sector, the community here in Silicon Valley all to come up with a solution,” said Ahrens. “Homelessness is very real and chances are everyone here who has a home probably has encountered or know someone who is one paycheck away, one job loss away, one medical emergency away from being homeless themselves.”