SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County cleared another hurdle today in its push to build hundreds of homes for low income residents on county land.

The Board of Supervisors voted to direct staff to study the feasibility of building the permanent housing on large empty lots adjacent to various county-owned hospitals and health centers: Valley Health Center on E. Santa Clara Street in San Jose, Valley Health Center in Gilroy, St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and DePaul Health Center in Morgan Hill.

All together, the sites represent about 80 acres of vacant lots.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez authored the recommendation, which seeks to spend Measure A funds on the low income housing in a manner that is “strategic, disciplined, and fast.”

In 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved Measure A to impose a parcel tax on themselves and raise $1 billion for affordable housing. At the time, Chavez was one of the most vocal supporters of Measure A.

“We promised the public that we would do our best to spend as best we could, the Measure A funds within ten years, because it demonstrates that we recognize this as a crisis,” said Chavez.

Three years after the passage of the parcel tax, the first affordable housing project has been built using the funds. The Veranda Apartments, at 19160 Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, officially opened Monday to house 19 people in 360 square foot studios. The majority of the tenants are seniors or homeless, or both.

Deborah, a new resident, said the application process was long, exhaustive and gut wrenching, but worth it.

“I am so deeply, deeply happy to have a roof over my head. I cannot tell you, it’s just, I am a little emotional, of course. But I am so deeply happy,” said Deborah.

“Besides ending the human suffering, it is unsustainable for government to support people living on the street. We spend much more money for someone who is homeless going to jail and to the hospital, and to get on an ambulance, than we ever would to house them, and to make sure they’re living in a safe environment. So we are moving in the right direction. We just to do more and do it faster,” said Chavez.

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