Equality and housing in Santa Clara County

Last month’s Women’s Equality Day Celebration hosted by the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women bore witness to the triumphs and challenges women still face. It is staggering to think that 2019 marks the 99th year since the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting many women the right to vote. 

My office has hosted dozens of outstanding future women leaders as part of my student internship program that offers valuable, real-world job experience. A big thank you to Sophie and Ria, who completed their summer internships last month and who are now back in school. I am grateful to them for dedicating their time to serving the public and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

In November 2016, county voters approved a $950 million bond to produce new affordable housing units and to assist first-time home buyers. To date, 1,900 new and rehabilitated apartments have been built or are approved to be built soon. In August, the county and community partners celebrated the grand opening of the first affordable housing development funded by the 2016 bond. The Veranda is a 19-unit new construction affordable housing development for seniors, with six units set aside for seniors who are disabled and homeless. 

But much more is needed. Also in August, the board of supervisors began discussing the potential of using county-owned land to locate new affordable housing. Several specific sites were discussed, including vacant land in Gilroy near the Valley Health Center and Saint Louise Regional Hospital, as well as near the De Paul Health Center in Morgan Hill. 

I asked that we inventory the hundreds of county-owned parcels throughout all 15 cities. I believe that the best approach is to produce a comprehensive, countywide property inventory and then prioritize which properties would be best suited for affordable housing. Adding housing takes careful planning and time, and it happens on a project-by-project basis throughout the region.

Voters in 2020 will benefit from a new, modern and secure voting system that includes new ballot scanners, tabulators and ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices at vote centers. To ensure voting security, the new Dominion Voting System model has undergone one of the most exhaustive testing and certification programs in the nation. The machines are not connected to the internet and do not receive or transmit election data electronically through any type of external communication network. The new system will also enable a decentralized count—remote tabulation at each vote center—which is expected to expedite election night results considerably.

The US Census Bureau will be canvassing Santa Clara County neighborhoods from now until mid-October to confirm addresses. We urge all residents to cooperate with Census workers to help ensure households are not overlooked in the counting process. Staff can be easily identified by US Census Badges with a photo ID, as well as black canvas bags and laptops with the Census 2020 logo. The US Census Bureau has contacted local law enforcement to make them aware of this effort. If you have any questions, please contact the County of Santa Clara Census team at (408) 678-1029.Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman represents District 1, which includes South County, on the board of supervisors. This guest view is excerpted from his September “Mike’s Monthly Message” newsletter. Wasserman can be reached at (408) 299-5010 or [email protected].

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