County officials push for more affordable housing for developmentally disabled

More housing for the developmentally disabled could be coming to Santa Clara County after a vote by the County’s Board of Supervisors.

The effort establishes guidelines for developers to access the first $10 million set aside by County officials to support construction of housing for these underserved residents. In September 2018, the County began examining financial avenues for up to $40 million to help facilitate construction of units for very low and extremely low-income individuals with developmental disabilities.

“The smart, humane, and cost-effective approach is to prevent homelessness, not require it as a necessary precondition to assistance,” County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a press release following the vote.

Simitian pushed the effort through a number of conversations, including worries about where the money would come from. In the end, these funds will be separate from those designated in Measure A, approved by a wide-margin of voters in 2016.

Measure A funds are scheduled “To provide affordable local housing for vulnerable populations including veterans, seniors, the disabled, low and moderate income individuals or families, foster youth, victims of abuse, the homeless and individuals suffering from mental health or substance abuse illnesses.”

“Given that developmentally disabled community members are particularly at-risk of grave harm when they become homeless, it’s absolutely crucial that we find ways to keep them housed, with the services they need,” Simitian continued.

Jan Stokley, executive director of Housing Choices – a San Jose-based non-profit that advocates for affordable housing options for the developmentally disabled, expressed her support for the actions.

“They’re a vulnerable group of county residents who are not yet homeless, but are just a heartbeat away from a housing crisis,” Stokley said.

“An estimated two-thirds of adults with developmental disabilities live at home with aging family members. With very limited personal income, the death of a parent could easily leave them with no place to live,” Leslye Corsiglia, Executive Director of Silicon Valley at Home, said in a letter to the Board, highlighting the need for ongoing housing assistance for this population.

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