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Milpitas
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
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Affordable HousingWith HUD contract set to expire, residents ask Milpitas City Council to...

With HUD contract set to expire, residents ask Milpitas City Council to save Sunnyhills Apartments

At Tuesday’s Milpitas City Council meeting, a group of Sunnyhills Apartment residents came out to ask for the City’s help in saving one of the few affordable housing “gems” in the community. 

Several years ago, real estate developer JMK Investments had plans to demolish the complex and build market-rate units in its place. 

Doing so would’ve displaced families from a total of 149 affordable apartments. But in 2017, the City of Milpitas stepped in, offering the owner $1.25 million for maintenance and repairs, in exchange for extending the contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for 5 more years. 

That 5 years is up in February 2023. 

And now the residents are concerned that nothing of substance is being done to save their homes over the long term. 

Residents from the Sunnyhills Apartments took turns, one by one, coming up to the podium to ask the new City Council to do what they could to work with JMK in keeping their units affordable. 

“Imagine yourself as a 15-year-old girl living in a low-income household, having to worry about whether or not you will still have a place to live, while already being pressured academically. This is what I’ve been experiencing for my entire life,” said one young resident who has been living at the Sunnyhills Apartments since she was born. 

Resident Lucy Wong spoke of how she has lived in the apartments with her family for the last 20 years, since they emigrated from China. 

“This community is really important to me because my family and I have been able to find housing stability in this community in an area where housing prices have and continue to be unaffordable for families like ours,” said Wong to the Council. 

The residents and other community members have been gathering signatures on an online petition to show the City how important this issue is. The petition states that the current tenants would be protected by “Enhanced Vouchers,” should the contract with HUD be discontinued; however residents are still concerned that the “apartments will be lost to future generations.”  

Sandy Perry, from the Affordable Housing Network, has been working with tenants at Sunnyhills since 2017. He, too, came up to speak:

“What we’ve heard now is that the owner intends to sign a renewal and it still hasn’t happened. It’s dragged on for several months,” said Perry. “So we urge the Council to put Sunnyhills on the agenda to find a way to make Sunnyhills permanently affordable.” 

Mayor Carmen Montano asked City Manager Steve McHarris if the issue could be agendized at the next Housing Subcommittee meeting, coming up in January. McHarris said that he would ensure it was on the agenda, but that a specific date for the upcoming meeting had not yet been set. 



 

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Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro is the winner of a 2022 Golden Quill Award for her Education journalism. She works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works mostly with nonprofit organizations and educational entities to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also the author of “Fierce Woman: Wake up your Badass Self.” Her YouTube channel features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The Housing Subcommittee has no authority- they only make recommendations! They don’t have a meeting set and I’m not even sure they know yet who’s on it after the election. So with the contract expiring in February, by referring this to the subcommittee, council is essentially doing nothing.

  2. A 3-day public notice is required to hold a Housing Subcommittee meeting. Council Liaisons are Evelyn Chua and Anthony Phan. I think that either could call for a meeting. https://www.milpitas.gov/our-government/subcommittees/city-council-housing-subcommittee/

    As with our Climate Crisis, continual delays to enacting moderate reforms leads to conditions that demand major structural change. To prevent the loss of over a hundred affordable housing units, the City could use its Eminent Domain power. If the property is owned by a Wall Street or foreign investor, the City could use its taxing authority to ensure that the owner does not make a profit. These kinds of major changes are now on the table because our elected representatives have failed in solving our housing crisis.

  3. City shouldn’t be throwing more money at Sunnyhills. Tax money is to benefit the public not the few that live in these apartments. Lots of things around the town that could use funding.

    • Terry, please specify just one of the “things around the town that could use funding” more than keeping a roof over the heads of families. For those of us who see everyone and everything as connected, compassion and a sense of fairnessy call us to do what we can to remedy the extreme inequity in our society. Maintaining affordable housing in Milpitas is something we – through our elected representatives – can do.

  4. Our city doesn’t have millions to throw at this apartment every few years! No more giveaways! The owners are probably bluffing anyway. In the current interest rate environment, securing financing to build a new development would not be easy.

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