Long commutes, social equity issues and environmental problems are tied to a shortage of housing and lack of quality transit near job centers. So says "Moving Silicon Valley Forward," a newly released study by Oakland-based nonprofit Urban Habitat.
San Jose native and former Sunnyvale resident Vu-Bang Nguyen, co-author of the report, shared it for the first time in Sunnyvale on Oct. 18 at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum.
Nguyen has been sharing the report, which took two years to complete, throughout Silicon Valley, presenting key recommendations on how to address these issues.
According to the report, as the Silicon Valley economy rebounds, 67 percent of the projected job growth and its largest workforce will be in sectors paying less than $50,000 annually. Yet, regional plans for housing and transportation do not meet the needs of this workforce.
"It's obviously really expensive to buy a home here," Nguyen said. "A single-family residence is over $600,000. For a condominium, it's over $350,000. About $121,000 is the median per year for a person to be able to afford a single-family house, almost $70,000 to own a condo.
"But the area of median income in Santa Clara County is actually $91,000, so there's a little bit of disconnect for somebody who would want a single-family home."
The report also states that more than 45 percent of workers who commute to San Mateo County from outside the county earn less than
$40,000. In Santa Clara County, 30 percent of its in-commuters earn that salary. Workers in that income bracket can afford monthly rent of $1,200, yet at that level there are 53,000 too few homes.
Using these new figures, Nguyen hopes community groups and nonprofit agencies can share them with local planners and political leaders when deciding on future development. Nguyen stressed the importance of smart growth, with an emphasis on affordable housing near transit and incentives to take public transportation.
Nguyen said he recognizes the complexities in doing so, but suggests that "if Silicon Valley is to have a more sustainable future that is also equitable and reflects the entire community, then it will be worth the effort."
To read the report, visit nonprofithousing.org/pdf_pubs/MovingSiliconValley Forward.pdf.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Prometheus Real Estate Group are offering a transit-oriented housing tour on Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The tour will start in Sunnyvale and end in San Jose with stops in five housing communities.
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