The future of affordable housing, part II: Ending homelessness in Silicon Valley

SVCF Housing Bill

Part II of a series looking at how SVCF, our donors and partners are creating solutions to Silicon Valley’s housing and homelessness crisis. This story originally appeared in the 2019 SVCF Magazine. Read Part I here and Part III here.

When addressing an issue as multifaceted as homelessness, there’s not one lone solution. That’s why Destination: Home, which is affiliated with SVCF as a supporting organization, is addressing the homelessness crisis in Santa Clara County on all fronts. As a public private partnership, it’s using research to inform policy and streamline services, gathering partners to create more housing and employment solutions for people experiencing homelessness, and allocating philanthropic investments to support the development of new extremely low income (ELI) housing and supportive housing. Recently, Destination: Home used its new Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund to catalyze the development of 294 new supportive housing units in Santa Clara County in the fund’s first year. Supportive housing combines affordable housing with services for people transitioning from homelessness to independent living.

John Duckworth, a former meth addict and alcoholic who is celebrating his 11th year of sobriety and is happy to have found affordable housing near his family in San Jose, is a member of Destination: Home’s Lived Experience Advisory Board. The advisory board helps to ensure that the perspectives of people who have experienced homelessness help guide efforts to fight it. And he is a staunch proponent of supportive housing. “You can’t just treat one aspect of [homelessness],” Duckworth says. “For example, one issue is with mental health and substance abuse. Dealing with mental health is very extensive. I think it’s a brilliant idea to have everything under one roof.”

Through investments totaling nearly $6.2 million, Destination: Home’s fund helped with four new developments, providing the critical resources needed to acquire new land, design buildings and even pay for furnishings in 134 apartments at San Jose’s first 100 percent supportive housing apartment building for formerly homeless adults, which opened in May.

“The goal is to take advantage of the incredible partnerships we have with corporate partners like Cisco and use this flexible, risk-tolerant capital to spark innovation and create new housing opportunities,” says Ray Bramson, Destination: Home’s chief impact officer. “It lets us move really nimbly and respond to urgent community needs but also explore new opportunities.”

The fund is also helping Destination: Home and Sacred Heart Community

Service expand a pilot homelessness prevention system that provides financial assistance so that people can maintain their homes or find new housing. In its first two years, the system provided 693 households with approximately $4,000 each in assistance and has seen a 97 percent success rate in keeping people housed. Made possible through financial commitments from the state, Santa Clara County, several cities, Google, LinkedIn and other partners, Destination: Home is able to expand the program to serve 900 households per year.

Learn more about SVCF's affordable housing grantmaking strategy here.