December 2020
Local Partnerships Magnify Our Impact

I am retiring January 20, 2021. It has been an honor and a privilege to support this agency for more than a decade as General Counsel, Deputy Executive Director/General Counsel, and these past five years as the agency’s third Executive Director. This experience has left me with a deeper understanding of the issues facing those living in poverty, and of the need for broader and more sincere equity for all people, regardless of race, gender or identification with any particular gender, family status, sexual orientation, religion and ability. 

SCCHA is a high performing agency rooted in local partnerships that make us stronger and magnify our impact. Every day, the Housing Authority ensures that more than 19,000 families have an affordable place to call home. I am confident that the agency will continue its important work for many years to come with the grace, dedication and empathy that I have witnessed. 

As always, thank you for your partnership in making homes and growing communities.

Katherine Harasz
Executive Director
Virtual Grand Opening Celebrates 180 New Affordable Apartments in San José

Click image for virtual grand opening of Laurel Grove Family and Park Avenue Senior Apartments.
You are cordially invited to a virtual grand opening of our recently completed Park Avenue Senior Apartments and its sister development, Laurel Grove Family Apartments! The new apartment community is near San José’s Diridon Station, the city’s major public transit hub and nexus for Google’s planned transit village. All 180 units are covered by a Section 8 project-based voucher contract, keeping rents permanently affordable to very low-income families and seniors earning between 20% and 50% of the county’s area median income (AMI). It's critical that our county create more housing affordable to extremely low-income families and seniors (those making 30% or less of AMI), and our vouchers are helping to address this need: 95% of Park Avenue households and 73% of Laurel Grove households are extremely low-income. Both developments also include 20 units for preference for residents with special needs, including those who may have experienced chronic homelessness.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been working hard to keep families housed. Park Avenue’s 120 seniors safely moved into their new apartments in April—a month into the county’s shelter-in-place order—thanks to the herculean efforts of SCCHA staff, property manager FPI Management, nonprofit social services provider LifeSTEPS and the county’s Office of Supportive Housing. 

We especially thank our virtual grand opening participants: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, San José City Councilmember Dev Davis, Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, SCCHA Board Chair Jennifer Loving and Laurel Grove resident Thomas Nazlou.
"I was homeless for about seven years on this street, right around the time when I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; and soon after that I lost my mobility and I was in a wheelchair. Since then my parents died and I was all alone. ... To be able to live here, I have access to electricity, clean water, shelter, which are very important things that you can't go without. This has been a good experience for me, and I'd like to thank everybody, thank you!"
Thomas Nazlou
Laurel Grove Family Apartments resident
"Nothing happens in isolation, and this work that we're celebrating today is just a testimony of how the community has been coming together, working together and really committing to make a difference for really the most vulnerable families and elders in our community; and that's always going to be folks that are on our streets, folks that are making zero to 30% of area median income, folks with disabilities or folks on fixed incomes. So you are doing something that is affecting so many people in a way that is really going to not only change their lives, but save their lives."
Jennifer Loving
Destination: Home CEO
SCCHA Board Chair
SCCHA acquired the two-acre Laurel Grove Lane property in 2008 for $5.74 million. Both developments broke ground in 2016 and were designed by San Francisco-based Gelfand Partners Architects, with Core Build JV as the general contractor. Financing includes a total of $37.1 million in loans and contributions from SCCHA, with low-income housing tax credit equity and tax exempt bond proceeds from US Bank Community Development Corp., Citibank N.A. and Silicon Valley Bank. Laurel Grove Family Apartments cost $59.5 million and Park Avenue Senior Apartments cost $68 million to develop. 

Low-income Residents Can Now Register Online 24/7 To Be Considered for Section 8 Housing Assistance

New permanently open interest lists replace outdated paper processes
SCCHA is making it easier for low-income residents to be considered for Section 8 housing assistance programs through permanently open interest lists accessed online. 

Debuting Dec. 7, our new online Applicant Portal—available 24-hours a day and seven days a week on the agency’s website—enables eligible low-income households to join interest lists for Section 8 housing vouchers and for affordable housing at specific rental properties using a computer, tablet or smart phone. As rental assistance becomes available, interest list applicants will be chosen randomly and added to smaller waiting lists to further determine their eligibility for housing vouchers or rental properties.

While not everyone who joins an interest list is guaranteed housing, the new interest lists are permanently open and random selection of applicants gives a fair chance to all of receiving housing assistance. 

The new online Applicant Portal replaces an outdated paper mail-in application process for a waiting list that was last open for five days in 2006. Before drawing applicants from the new online interest lists, SCCHA will first serve about 3,400 applicants remaining on the 2006 waiting list. The agency plans to begin this process in December by contacting up to 900 remaining waiting list applicants per month until the 2006 applicant pool is fully served. 

To join the new online Section 8 voucher program interest lists, applicants must be:
  • 18 years or older; 
  • the household must have at least one member who is legally documented to live in the U.S.;
  • and the household's income must not exceed 50% of Santa Clara County's area median income for a household of its size.
  • While applicants do not have to reside in Santa Clara County, preference will be given to those who have lived and worked in the county within the last five years.

Eligible applicants may register online any time at www.scchousingauthority.org/applicantportal or call (888) 717-1180 for assistance. All they need to sign up is a valid email address. 

Interest list applicants are encouraged to update their information online as needed. They will receive email or text message notifications of their status and whenever a new property becomes available online. As long as they log in once a year, interest list applicants remain active. There is no cost to join SCCHA’s interest lists or to participate in rental assistance programs. SCCHA staff and participating community-based partners will assist persons with disabilities and those without access to technology in the online registration process.

Help us provide ongoing opportunities and hope to families seeking vouchers and affordable housing by sharing the link to our new online Applicant Portal

The new online interest lists are for Section 8 housing choice vouchers and rental properties with project-based vouchers. The agency’s other voucher programs are designed to serve specific populations, including veterans and those impacted by homelessness, and may combine housing assistance with savings incentives and/or case management services provided in collaboration with community services agencies. These voucher programs are not included in the new online interest lists.

For Second Consecutive Year, More Veterans Housed Than Become Homeless

The community-wide All the Way Home campaign began on Veterans Day 2015 with the goal of housing all of Santa Clara County’s veterans who are experiencing homelessness. On Veterans Day 2020, the coalition reported that 1,940 formerly homeless veterans have been housed, and that for the second consecutive year since the program began, more veterans are leaving the streets than are becoming homeless. In addition to their work connecting homeless veterans to permanent housing, the coalition reported that it helped house 114 homeless veterans in motel rooms since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

We’re proud to report that as of November 1, 2020, 1,009 formerly homeless veterans have been housed with the help of a federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program voucher. These vouchers are critical to helping veterans compete in our rental market, and private landlords are crucial to the program. So far 904 landlords have joined the coalition to house veterans.

The success of our county’s public, private and nonprofit partnership in housing veterans continues to help our agency make the case for more federal resources. We were recently invited by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to apply for an additional 132 VASH vouchers. This award (which we anticipate receiving in January) will bring our total allocation up to 1,464 VASH vouchers. Currently about 76% of our VASH vouchers are under lease and the remaining are either in the hands or soon to be in the hands of homeless veterans. 

To learn more about renting to veterans, visit the Landlord informational page.

Mendieta Appointed Tenant Commissioner

Executive Director Harasz (right) welcomes Commissioner Mendieta (left) at her swearing-in.
We warmly welcome Ericka Mendieta as our newest Tenant Commissioner. A resident of Villas on the Park, one of the county’s first 100% permanent supportive housing developments, Mendieta is a go-getter who wants to advocate for and encourage others with current or past experience of homelessness. Mendieta became homeless while experiencing a toxic marriage as well as a cancer diagnosis. As she began healing from the cancer, she gained the courage to leave her relationship. Outreach from PATH San José helped Mendieta get into her own apartment and continue the healing process. "I’m honored for the opportunity to represent the needs of formerly homeless residents and eager to learn more about our county’s housing services," said Mendieta. A native of Fremont, Mendieta worked for 13 years in customer service at Fidelity Investments in Hayward after earning an associate degree from Heald College.
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The Santa Clara County Housing Authority is the largest provider of affordable housing assistance in the county, helping make rental housing safe and affordable for low-income families through Section 8 voucher programs and below-market rental properties. Designated a Moving to Work agency, it currently assists more than 19,000 households.
 
Santa Clara County Housing Authority
505 West Julian Street, San José, California, 95110 * www.scchousingauthority.org