Affordable Housing Awareness

May 2, 2022

The median home price in Cupertino is $800,000, which is $300,000 more expensive than the median home price in CA and makes Cupertino the 12th most expensive place to live in the United States. Rising home prices are an issue that has been spreading across the state and country, and the implementation of both more housing and affordable housing is one method by which municipalities have counteracted the issue of too few unaffordable homes. In 2019, cities nationwide passed legislation knocking down zoning requirements and increasing affordable housing and general housing quota. Cupertino was no different.

In my project, I explored the availability — or lack thereof — of affordable housing in Cupertino and San Jose. I wanted to examine the various approaches to affordable housing that the two cities took and the resources that both provided to mitigate this issue. Through my research and user interviews, I identified two key issues. First, there is an overall lack of housing legislation and support within both cities, though San Jose has more comprehensive programs than Cupertino. This manifests in, for example, the inability of teachers to qualify for below market rate (BMR) housing to live within the district. It can also discourage developers from building duplexes, which are not as profitable as retail but are an effective method for increasing housing, out of a lack of loans of financial resources. The second issue I identified was a lack of awareness about existing programs. Without an understanding of the specific legal vocabulary used to define certain programs, residents are left not using the resources that have been specifically created to help them.

To combat these issues, I decided to create a website that guides residents and developers alike through the housing support and resources available to them. For potential homeowners, I consolidated the loans and affordable housing initiatives that they could apply for to receive financial support or qualify for below market rate homes. For current residents, I created a detailed guide to the process of building an Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU), secondary units that can bring in income for residents while also increasing the number of homes in the community and creating affordable options for other potential residents. For developers, I embedded maps that showed where they could build homes, disclosed the guidelines that articulated what types of housing they could build, and listed the initiatives that would fund the efforts to build affordable housing. Finally, I created a quiz that would highlight the specific need of the website visitor and direct them to it.

Future steps for this project include presenting it at City Council meetings, getting the website linked on municipal cites, and providing feedback to city leaders on the efficacy and accessibility of the programs themselves. For residents, potential homeowners, and developers, the website will be a source of guidance through a confusing process in order to ultimately work towards the goal of changing communities to be diverse, inclusive, and affordable.

Learn more about Monta Vista High School’s Equity Projects!

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