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.