Increased Access to Affordable Housing and Public Transit in the Bay

Today, Silicon Valley is a place with far more jobs than housing. This imbalance drives up an already high cost of living and pushes people who cannot afford homes into outlying areas many miles from their jobs. In fact, fewer than half (40 percent) of first-time home buyers in Santa Clara County and just 29 percent in San Mateo County could afford to purchase a median-priced home in 2016.
People Impacted
$ 211B
Potential Funding
I have this challenge
the problem
Nature and Context

The Bay Area housing market is simply not producing enough housing to meet the full range of needs in most communities. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments, jurisdictions in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties issued building permits estimated to meet about one-quarter of the housing need for very low-, low- and moderate-income households. Few first-time home buyers can afford to purchase a median-priced home, and nearly half of all renters are considered housing cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs. With the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California and federal cuts in affordable housing funding, efforts to explore and generate local sources of funding are urgently needed. Despite the growth in the Bay Area’s population and the region’s investments in public transit, overall transit ridership has not increased. One leading factor is that the Bay Area’s transit system is more fragmented than transit systems in similarly sized metropolitan areas, with 27 separate and poorly coordinated transit agencies. A worker living in San Francisco commuting to a job in North San José could be forced to transfer between four different transit systems.

Symptoms and Causes

While regional investments in BART and Caltrain enhance mass transit, these options tend to favor higher-income riders. Investment in bus transit has not kept pace, even though the lowest-income workers in the region rely on it. Bus service in the region’s more isolated communities, such as Pescadero, is even more challenging, with one bus out in the morning, at 6 a.m., and one back at night, at 6 p.m. Taken together, these issues leave Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable residents struggling amid the economic boom.

the impact
Negative Effects

The California Housing Partnership Corporation, a state-created nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of affordable homes, estimates that there are 35,000 housing units in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties at risk of losing their affordability restrictions and converting to market rate prices over the next five years.

Because of the region’s high cost of living, increasing numbers of people are living farther away from their jobs. Most of these people (74 percent) are driving alone, and only 6 percent are public transit users.

There is growing evidence that these issues are undermining Silicon Valley’s competitiveness with other regions of the country.

Success Metrics

-increase the supply of affordable housing

-reduce traffic congestion

-help employers find employees who no longer have to face long and expensive commutes.

financial insights
Current Funding

Silicon Valley Community Foundation provides grantmaking in this impact area.

Ideas Description

One of the most important ways that California can increase the supply of housing affordable to all income levels is by reducing the time and cost of development.

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