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New affordable housing development proposed near Roosevelt Park

A new affordable housing development could rise in San Jose near Roosevelt Park, with some units targeted for formerly homeless people, youth out of foster care and the developmentally disabled.

Under the current plan, the Roosevelt Parks Apartments at 21 N. 21st Street — near Santa Clara Street and Highway 101 — would stand nine stories and include 79 apartments for low-income residents, according to a new memo from the city’s housing director, Jacky Morales-Ferrand, and the budget director, Margaret McCahan.

On Tuesday, the City Council will consider approving a loan of around $9 million to support the project. The developers, First Community Housing, would still need to secure additional financing and work through the permitting process. But tentatively, construction is set to begin in the spring of 2020 and would be done around September 2021.

The new development is a badly needed dose of affordable housing in Silicon Valley, advocates say, where rents have soared to among the highest in the nation. San Jose alone has more than 4,000 homeless residents and many families have fled the South Bay for more affordable housing because they are unable to pay rent in an area where one-bedroom apartments regularly rent for close to $3,000.

In 2017, Mayor Sam Liccardo said he wanted San Jose to add 10,000 affordable homes by 2022. But few of those homes are ready for residents yet, even as the promise of a large Google campus just west of downtown has sent developers and companies scrambling to snap up property.

Forty of the building’s units would be set aside for formerly homeless people and their families, while 10 would be for youth transitioning out of foster care and 10 would go to developmentally disabled people. While many of the apartments would be geared toward individuals or small families, the building would include 14 three-bedroom units for larger families. One unit would be set aside for a building manager.

“We just felt like the site was so perfect for family housing,” said Ava Kuo, a senior project manager with First Community Housing, adding that housing insecurity among families with children is a real problem. “Our vision is very much to try to create a place for families.”

One floor of the LEED Platinum building would include more than 7,000 square feet of commercial space, and more than 2,000 square feet would be set aside for community space. That could include a computer lab or space for different nonprofits or agencies to meet with residents and offer things like career advice or mentoring. Two of the levels would be for parking.

The project, the memo says, could serve low- and moderate-income residents like fast food cooks, cashiers and even nurses and construction workers.

Located roughly a half mile from the planned Alum Rock/28th Street BART station, the development would be steps from the Roosevelt Community Center, San Jose High School, and the South Bay Sports Training and Batting Cages.

According to an initial study conducted by the city in December, the building would rise 85 feet tall, with the elevator shaft extending to 95 feet. Now, the site is vacant.

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First Community Housing has several other low-income housing developments in the works, including a Leigh Avenue project for homeless seniors, and Second Street Studios, a project at the corner of South Second and Keyes streets, also for formerly homeless residents.

On Tuesday, the council will also consider whether to approve a loan of around $7 million to support the development of around 80 low-income housing units on Page Street off W. San Carlos Street. Separately, the council will vote on a separate loan of more than $11 million to go toward building more than 85 affordable apartments on Balbach Street, not far from the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

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