Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Sunnyvale, CA - Mayor Manuel Valerio

Santa Clara County Collaboration

In Santa Clara County, it is widely recognized that addressing regional needs and problems requires regional cooperation. For more than five years, collaborative efforts by housing staffs and administrators in the County have streamlined processes, kept information flowing and cut across territorial lines to facilitate joint projects. Although the County includes a wide range of jurisdictions - with San Jose the largest city in Northern California and Gilroy still primarily agricultural - there are many common interests. Staff representatives of the County's seven entitlement cities - Gilroy, Milpitas, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale - and the County meet at least quarterly to review issues common to the CDBG programs in the various jurisdictions. Community Planning and Development staff members from HUD's San Francisco Office attend most of these meetings, adding to the collaboration and information sharing.

To carry through on matters of common interest, the various jurisdictions remain in informal communication between the quarterly meetings. Joint efforts include sharing common information for the consolidated plan, contributing to a County-wide homeless survey, collaborating on domestic violence services and housing, comparing the service quality and auditing results of groups supported by CDBG funding, creating common elements of funding applications, and addressing County-wide fair housing issues. These efforts not only help solve problems, they also reduce spending by avoiding the duplication of services. The group also has been able to share resources and knowledge to aid clients affected by the disbanding of some non-profits.

A result of the collaboration has been the development and placement of projects which meet the needs of all jurisdictions. Jointly-funded projects include a homeless reception center and shelter in San Jose, homeless youth shelters in Mountain View and Santa Clara, a children's shelter in San Jose, a single room occupancy project in Sunnyvale, apartments for the developmentally disabled in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, senior shared housing in Sunnyvale and Mountain View, transitional housing for victims of domestic violence in Santa Clara, and family rental housing in Gilroy and Milpitas.

One of the reasons for including HUD representatives at the meetings is to communicate to HUD in Washington the unique needs of Santa Clara County, where the median income is high but housing prices and rents are astronomical. It has been emphasized that there are many who do not share in Silicon Valley's much-touted financial success, and that they are not always noticed in Washington because they generally are scattered throughout the County rather than concentrated in poverty areas.

Santa Clara County's collaborative model is similar to a three-legged stool: The supporting legs are HUD, the local jurisdictions and the non-profits which deliver services and build affordable housing. This approach has given Santa Clara County a stronger voice at HUD, and it has ensured that the County's smaller cities have the same access to funds for affordable housing as the larger urban centers.

Contact: Dyane Matas, Housing and Neighborhood Preservation Officer, City of Sunnyvale, (408) 730-7611

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