When it comes to affordable housing, Milpitas is leaning all the way in.
At a special City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 12, several groundbreaking actions were taken to create more affordable housing opportunities for local residents.
Among them was approval of a site development permit, density bonus, and environmental assessment to build 100-102 affordable housing units for low-income residents and veterans at 355 Sango Court.
“I want to welcome the community here this evening for a historic day on affordable housing,” said Mayor Rich Tran at the start of the public hearing for the Sango Court development.
Council approved the item, after adding several conditions, one of which was that developers ensure a minimum of 55 years for units to be restricted to affordable status.
Another proposal that was approved by Council involved restructuring a loan for Montevista Apartments, located at 1001 S. Main Street. Developed by a non-profit, Bridge Housing, in 1996, Montevista Apartments contains 306 units, 76 of which are designated for low-income residents, and 87 for very low-income ones. That leaves a total of 143 units at market-rate costs.
“By restructuring existing debt and the project’s equity partners, Bridge Housing will be able to increase cash flow and tap other affordable housing financing resources that will help pay for necessary rehabilitation costs of the aging property,” read a press release sent out by the City the following day (June 13).
As part of the deal, Bridge Housing will also take 50 of the current market-rate units and transform them into affordable ones.
According to the City’s press release: “For the new affordable units, a one‐bedroom apartment rent of $1,383; for a two‐bedroom, $1,660; and for a three‐bedroom, $1,917 under current affordable housing formulas. Currently the average market‐rate apartment rent in Milpitas for a one‐bedroom unit is $2,422 and for a two‐ bedroom, $2,866.”
Another noteworthy win for affordable housing in Milpitas?
City Council voted to push forward a new affordable housing ordinance, which would require all developers of new residential construction to ensure that 15% of all units would be reserved for affordable housing.
This would apply to projects bearing 10 units or more. Any developers of owner-occupied units unable to meet this goal could (with Council’s approval) pay what’s known as an “in-lieu” fee, while developers of rental units could either provide affordable units or pay an affordable housing fee.
Council members were all in favor of the item, but not without a few tweaks, among them going out to the non-residential community and getting additional feedback, as well as directing staff to re-evaluate dollar-per-square-foot fees.
All in all, it has been an exciting time for affordable housing in Milpitas.
Just last year, City Staff and Council worked tirelessly to extend the Department of Housing and Urban Development contract for the Sunnyhills Apartments, to prevent residents from having to vacate their homes. The extension was set to last for 5 years, granting the City time to determine how to sustain the affordable housing development in the future.
And a new consultant, Kelly Snider, who is an acting professor at San Jose State University, in the Urban and Regional Housing program, has come onboard to help with City issues and determine how to preserve Sunnyhills.
Plans are also underway to create a Housing Task Force. In addition, just this past Wednesday, June 13, the City announced the appointment of Sharon Goei, the new Director of Building and Housing. Chief among her duties will be affordable housing administration.
Meanwhile, Director of Planning and Neighborhood Services Brad Misner announced that 140 applications have come in for the new Housing Authority Administrator position.
June 12 was a special night for Milpitas, one that had been a long time coming. After months of study sessions, community outreach, and conversations, Misner and Housing Manager Tim Wong and their team have carved out a grounded yet revolutionary path toward enhancing the presence of affordable housing in Milpitas.
Although there’s more work to be done in the future, these new developments certainly offer a great deal of promise.