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Los Altos moves forward with first 100% affordable housing development

CBS News Bay Area

October 12, 2022 – The City of Los Altos has granted design approval and a conditional use permit for its first 100% affordable housing development.

The proposed development, designed by EAH Housing, would be a 5-story, 90-unit building located at 330 Distel Circle.

“This has been missing for a very long time,” said Nick Zornes, the Development Services Director for the City of Los Altos. “We have slowly in very minimal numbers produced affordable housing units in the past decade or so. But this is really going to be the first and kind of, big cumulative amount of affordable housing in one particular project.”

The rents are targeted at individuals and families that earn between 30-80% of Santa Clara County’s area median income (AMI).

“Expect it to be some of our schoolteachers in the community, it can be our hospitality and service workers, and then everything in between,” Zornes said. “Really putting a face to the residents was something that I think really helped open the eyes of the community, where it was really kind of a, ‘wow, we really do need this.'”

Consuelo Hernandez, the director of the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing, applauded the City of Los Altos decision to move forward with the affordable housing development.

“Los Altos stepping up to partner with the county is a big deal for us,” she said. “We’re talking about people that don’t earn enough to afford a market-rate apartment. In our county, in north county specifically, we see some 2 bedrooms renting between $4,000-$6,000.”

She says humanizing the impact of the affordable housing developments can help eliminate pushback from hesitant community members.

“The unknown is what causes people fear,” she said. “But when they make that connection of, this income equates to this person who I see at my restaurant, or it equates to this person that serves me my coffee, gives me my laundry when I go to the dry cleaners. When we make that connection for people, it’s easier and more digestible for them not to fight the, who are we housing in this building?”

Miguel Rios, 29, works as a café supervisor at a Silicon Valley tech company and lives in an EAH affordable housing community in San Jose with his family. The existence of a community like his has helped allow his family to live and work in the place they call home.

“Knowing that we don’t have to necessarily make ‘x’ amount of money in order to survive and live comfortably, it relieves a lot of stress from our back,” he said.

He doesn’t take it for granted, as he has peers who work in the Bay Area, but can’t live here.

“You’re looking at places like Modesto, Tracy, you know? Maybe Los Banos,” he said. “One of the guys I work with currently commutes from Tracy. He starts his shift at 6:30 a.m, but he leaves his house at 3:00 a.m.”

When Rios learned that Los Altos is moving forward with the addition of 90 affordable housing units, he felt a sense of hope.

“It will be helpful overall,” he said. “It’s a huge help.”

At this point, the goal is to break ground on the affordable housing development by 2024.

Read more HERE.