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Silicon Valley passes landmark affordable housing policy

April 11, 2016

Every day, the Bay Area is topping national lists of places with housing crises. Now, we're at the top of a different list — the list of who's taking the lead on building affordable housing.

Last week, the Valley Transportation Authority Board passed the strongest affordable housing policy of any transit agency in the country.

The Valley Transportation Authority controls more than 300 acres of public land that will be getting developed in public-private partnerships. This new policy says each site must have a minimum of 20% affordable housing units, while setting a goal that in aggregate 35% of all the housing built will be affordable.

VTA is also targeting the communities who are affected the most by inequity, committing that half of the affordable units will be for extremely low income residents and half for very low income.

With low-income residents four times more likely to ride transit than high-wage earners, this policy takes aim not only at the Bay Area's housing and displacement crisis but also at our carbon footprint.

The Bay Area is projected to add 2.1 million new residents by 2040, with Silicon Valley absorbing the largest share of that growth, yet regional plans have not shown where the housing will come from for of all these residents - let alone for the low-income residents. W ith cities and agencies across the county facing decisions every day about equity and inclusion - and the San Jose City Council facing a similar decision this spring about affordable housing on City-owned land - this landmark vote by the VTA board forms a critical part of our broader strategy to build and preserve tens of thousands of affordable housing units in Silicon Valley.

The victory we are celebrating today shows what happens when we stand together and say that public dollars and public land - our dollars and our land - can and must be leveraged to fill our housing gap, not make it wider.