Homelesness has increased tenfold over the past several years, people with nowhere to go are looking to creeks, parks and even sidewalks for shelter.
This is a humanitarian crisis and we must move swiftly with a slew of solutions to combat this issue. Through increased coordination, policy proposals, and innovative partnerships I will make it a priority to find immediate and long term solutions to homelesnness in San Jose and in District 3 because everyone deserves a roof over their head.
The following are key principles of the approach I would take towards addressing homelessness if elected to City Council:
- Permanent Solutions: Those experiencing homelesness need to have the opportunity to secure housing, in particular permanent housing options so they can receive necessary services on site. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) can change people’s lives by providing a home and the support needed to move on in life. I will push for more PSH developments to get homeless residents housed. There are significant barriers to this approach, including zoning hurdles, the continued need for financing and the overall development process but I will work day in and day out to remove these barriers and build more PSH housing. We can no longer allow obstacles to stand in the way of providing housing for all residents.
- Immediate/Temporary Solutions: It takes time for permanent housing opportunities to become available. It is important to create immediate solutions because we cannot afford to wait to provide some form of shelter for unhoused residents. I will support our statewide solution, Project Roomkey, which has made way for funding to be available to quickly convert underutilized Motels/Hotels into temporary housing for residents struggling with homelessness. I will work closely with the State to expand Project Roomkey (and Project Homekey) projects throughout San Jose and in District 3. In addition we need to work with the service providers working on the ground to ensure that we are connecting residents to available temporary housing opportunities ( like Tiny Homes). We must also look for surplus land or underutilized parking lots for safe park programs. Our faith community has been a willing partner; we should expand on that partnership since they have been eager to be part of these solutions. Whether living on the street or in a car, we need to make sure unhoused residents have immediate access to safe housing options and access to the services they need to find stability.
Public Safety/Community Building
I got my start in neighborhood organizing alongside San Jose PD after a brutal drive-by shooting in our community. Shoulder-to-shoulder we worked with our local police officers to build a youth center in District 3 – and together we won. We can make San Jose safe – we just need to work together!
Our downtown and adjacent neighborhoods are experiencing a drastic spike in crime and immediate action is required.
Now is the time to radically increase and improve our community safety programs: more community police officers, more foot patrols in merchant corridors and more violence prevention and youth programs. As your council member I will work with the police, not against them and help our department secure the resources needed to increase our safety.
But more police officers won’t be enough. I’ll also fight for the resources to improve violence prevention and youth programs and make sure we pay attention to the “little things,” like illegal dumping, graffiti, and blight that stain our neighborhoods. I’ve been working to clean our community up since I was 14 years old. I won’t stop when I get to city hall.
Having a safe and secure place to live and work increases productivity, quality of life and instills pride in our neighborhoods. We can improve public safety – but we need to put in the work!
Displacement and gentrification are issues that have troubled the Bay area for decades. Sadly as a result of rising living costs, many residents have been forced to move out of the area, locally owned businesses have closed, and pieces of cherished history have been lost over time. Neighborhoods have been severely impacted due to displacement. Communities of color and low income communities have been particularly affected. We cannot continue to allow this to happen. San Jose has a blueprint for solutions known as the City’s Anti Displacement Plan - we must move quickly implementing these solutions and provide more in order to combat displacement before it gets worse.
- Expand Tenant Protections: Renters in San Jose are still susceptible to drastic rent increases. Our rent cap is among the highest in comparison to larger cities throughout the State. Tenants in San Jose deserve to live without fear of being priced out, the cost of living is already tight, a further increase could be the difference between someone staying or leaving this city.
- Preservation/Alternative Housing Models: Along with protecting renters, we have many buildings that are naturally affordable that are constantly at risk of being lost due to demolition or redevelopment. We need to preserve our existing sources of affordable housing, create funding for the acquisition and rehabilitation of homes throughout San Jose and instill stability throughout our communities. We also need to have tenants at the forefront of solutions and give community members the opportunity to own their homes through Land trusts or co-operative models.
- Address Habitability Issues: Properties throughout District 3 and the entire City have many properties with habitability issues, through poor maintenance and under investment the people that live in this building are the most impacted. Renters in this city deserve both a home with essential functions and standards, and the right and ability to report issues without fear of retaliation. Our Code Enforcement Department needs more support so they can continue to address building and safety issues at the scale needed.
Local and state regulations can make building new housing an arduous task with a lot of red tape to cut and hoops to jump. The City of San Jose has fallen severely short of its 2023 housing goal of 25,000 units including 10,000 affordable units made in 2018. If we are going to continue to bring jobs to our city, we need to create more housing of all income levels to offset the impact and ensure that everyone has access to housing in this city. The following are my key strategies to address housing production issues:
- Funding: Plain and simple, we need to be able to generate funding to the level needed in order to finance housing projects. Measure E was a big win, but we need to do more. Looking at how our Commercial Linkage Fee can be more effective, as well as looking into regional finance opportunities whether through policy work, or through the ballot. I will fight for funding for affordable housing for both production and preservation.
- Community Engagement: We need to work with community members to address our housing crisis, and provide robust community engagement throughout a project’s entitlement process, will be paramount. This will be mutually beneficial as developers will build a relationship with the community and residents will provide insight on community dynamics. This model has been utilized before, we need to expand on this and I would work diligently to make this happen.
- Red Tape: City departments and our various regulations: there are many hoops developers regularly face when moving forward with housing projects. I know firsthand about working through the city’s process and will utilize my experience to provide departments with the support necessary to run at full capacity.
By 2040, San Jose is expected to increase in population by 400,000 people and add about 13,000 new jobs. My goal is revitalize the downtown area to make it an attractive place for businesses to flourish as our job base and population grows while supporting existing local businesses that create the backbone of our city’s identity.
- Build and Maintain Strong Small business Infrastructure and Support: Obtain funding from state and federal to support small businesses and form a strong coalition between local business owners.
- Leverage our Business Improvement District and Property Business Improvement District: The PBID/BID/CBID process has done so much to activate corridors throughout this City. I have worked firsthand with PBID recipient areas and I would look to expand this opportunity to other corridors throughout District 3. Small business hubs need resources and support to attract patrons, the Business Improvement District does just that and I will continue my work at the ground level to help make that happen.
- Create and Sustain Plans and Task Forces to increase Business Resiliency: Developing plans like the Greater Downtown San Jose Economic Task Force implemented by the current District 3 councilmember Raul Peralez will help protect small businesses from displacement due to rent hikes and recover from disruptions like pandemics and natural disasters. Working on a grassroots level to offer resources and education for businesses to start and grow is critical to maintaining a healthy downtown core.
As climate change becomes more of a pressing issue across the globe, San Jose must use its technological resources and advantageous geological location to be a strategic leader towards environmental friendly and sustainable change. I want to help keep San Jose a vibrant, healthy place for current residents and future generations to enjoy. We need to advance Climate Smart goals and continue to look to lower our overall carbon footprint through a variety of mechanisms including promoting green building methods and alternative modes of transit.
- Promote Green Construction and Buildings: Ensure that we continue with newly passed reach codes that promote green building techniques along with increased opportunities for electric vehicles and charging stations
- Green Space/Community Gardens: Only 13.5% of San Jose is covered by trees. Planting more trees will help with erosion control and rainwater runoff reduction, cleaning the air, and providing protection from heat and radiation. In addition with increasing tree production, we should look towards community gardens, pocket spaces where we can introduce plants/flowers etc. into urban areas.
- Alternative Modes of Transit: Sustainable and accessible public transportation is long overdue. We need to overcome our region’s decades-long resistance to making public transportation more convenient than sitting in traffic. We need to push for a variety of transit options to get folks out of their cars and reduce our overall carbon footprint. Pushing for transit-oriented development opportunities where parking requirements can be decreased would be ideal so residents and guests can look towards other modes of transit. We also have to make transit accessible, pushing for low cost or free public transit for community members would both increase riderships and alleviate transportation costs. In addition, we need to look at how we are designing our streets, creating safe bike lanes so we have bikeable, walkable communities are important.