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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Sponsored Viswanathan's statement on Project HomeKey controversy

Viswanathan’s statement on Project HomeKey controversy

The issue in the Project HomeKey controversy was never about ignoring the plight of the homeless in our community; it was precisely because of this concern that residents rose up to speak out about this project.

Milpitas residents rightly wanted the priority of HomeKey to be housing for our own local homeless. They rightly wanted a say in the matter, not a backroom deal between the city and the county. They rightly wanted an accurate analysis of the cost of the project which was initially pegged at $29 million, then $80 million and now ( with an estimated $1.5 million per year in maintenance costs for fifty-five years ) at over $150 million. That’s over one million dollars per unit of housing! The city could buy each homeless person a three bedroom house with that kind of money.

Those who have criticized the Hillview neighbors and others for raising questions and legitimate concerns about this proposal indicate their own disregard for the fundamental principles of representative government. HomeKey was being fast-tracked months before the residents of Milpitas even learned of it through media reports. Is it wrong to have public hearings, community meetings, or seek the input of local residents? Isn’t that what representative democracy is all about?

It is very easy for those who are least impacted by this issue to cast stones at the nearly 3,000 individuals who signed the Change.org petition and characterize them as heartless, lacking in compassion, or worse. Where are their solutions? If they had any, we would have solved the homeless problem long ago. Talk is cheap. The truth is that the homeless crisis is a complicated one and recklessly throwing taxpayer money at the problem – without a real plan in place to address mental health issues and drug abuse – has not worked well. Just look at San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

I applaud the thousands of people who signed the petition and the hundreds who texted, e-mailed or spoke out at the City Council meeting. That’s how government is supposed to work, from the bottom up, not imposed from the top down. Perhaps Project HomeKey is a good proposal, perhaps not. Perhaps  we can make it better, ensure it is prioritized for our own Milpitas homeless, or possibly there are better solutions awaiting our review. Yes, review. The public should always have a right to review the actions of their city government; otherwise, democracy will not long survive.

Suraj Viswanathan

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This is a sponsored post. 

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