Buena Vista mobile home park residents get to stay in their homes

Buena Vista
Residents of the Buena Vista mobile home park in Palo Alto, Calif., celebrate the holidays in a scene from Elizabeth Lo's documentary, "Notes from Buena Vista." SVCF supported the creation of the documentary to highlight residents' fight against eviction. 

The 400 residents of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, Calif., received good news last month after five years of facing potential eviction – they will be able to stay in their homes, thanks to a deal the park owners signed with the Santa Clara County Housing Authority

The Buena Vista mobile home park, hidden behind a gas station in the heart of Silicon Valley, is one of the few remaining options for low-income housing in the area. Many of the residents who live at Buena Vista work in the area's service industry as grocery store clerks, cafeteria workers and Stanford University maintenance staff. 

Back in 2012, the owners of the mobile home park decided they didn't want to be landlords anymore and put the property up for sale. As property values soared, many developers wanted to clear the land and rebuild high-end housing, which the Buena Vista residents couldn't afford to purcahse or rent. They would essentially be evicted. 

Buena Vista 2
For the documentary, Buena Vista resident Amanda shared how she feared being displaced from the only safe home she's lived in.

Now, a deal has been reached between the Santa Clara County Housing Authority and the owners of the mobile home park. The housing authority will acquire and own the property, preserving it as a mobile home park and enabling residents to stay in their homes. Learn more about the deal in this article by the San Jose Mercury News.

SVCF has been supporting residents in their fight against eviction for several years, as one of our highest institutional priorities is working on affordable housing issues in Silicon Valley. Vu-Bang Nguyen, SVCF's program officer for "Building Strong Communities" grants strategy on housing and transit issues, explored various ways SVCF could help residents.

In particular, one of SVCF's donors helped fund a grant to pay for a documentary to be made about the park. Filmmaker Elizabeth Lo created, "Notes from Buena Vista," which provides a glimpse into the lives of Buena Vista residents to show just how important their homes and the park are to them. The film helped raised awareness and was screened several times at events throughout Silicon Valley.

Watch a 10-minute clip from the film below, or visit Elizabeth Lo's blog for more about the project.


Other news from SVCF’s work on affordable housing

Displacement Brief

Effects of displacement in San Mateo County explored in research brief
U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Community Innovation, an organization that received a Building Strong Communities grant from SVCF, recently released a research brief on how residents in San Mateo County are affected after being displaced from their homes. The study provides a window into the consequences of displacement for households in the San Francisco Bay Area, with implications for researchers and policymakers. Read "Displacement in San Mateo County, California" for details.

$100,000 grant opportunity
In addition to our annual Building Strong Communities grant opportunities, SVCF is offering two, one-time $100,000 grants to nonprofits working on housing and transit issues. This special grant round is in honor of SVCF’s 10th anniversary. Applications will be accepted June 5-30! 

Housing Brief

Brief explains how Silicon Valley's housing crisis came about
SVCF and the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy produced a policy brief titled “Silicon Valley’s Housing Crisis: How did we get here, and what can we do about it?” In it, we looked at some of the reasons for Silicon Valley’s lack of affordable housing, some of the effects of that scarcity -- and ways that stakeholders locally and statewide can work to improve things. Our research shows that local governments have issued only about one quarter of the building permits needed to fulfill the demand for new low- and moderate-income housing. Furthermore, housing costs have been rising faster than wages in Silicon Valley. Though the situation is decidedly bleak, there are actions that could help increase the supply of housing. Among our recommendations:

  • Streamline permitting processes for affordable housing statewide
  • Reform the California Environmental Quality Act to curtail excess litigation
  • Change the voting majority required for housing bond measure passage to a simple majority

Read more from this brief.

Reoprt showcases SVCF's work on affordable housing
Want to learn more about how SVCF has supported other affordable housing initiatives? Check out our Impact Report, which chronicles stories of our Building Strong Communities grantees and partners: