79-unit affordable housing complex opens in West San Jose

Posted on: April 1, 2024

The grand opening ribbon cutting of the Vitalia Apartments was attended by San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, city and county officials, politicians, and organizations advocating for low income housing. This all-electric, $67M, 5-story over one level of below-grade parking, 79 unit development of affordable housing includes studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, 39 of which are set aside for the formerly homeless as supportive housing.

By Devan J. Patel – Reporter, Silicon Valley Business Journal


Vitalia Apartments, grand opening, San Jose. 2024

The push for more affordable housing in San Jose is off to a fast start with the Vitalia Apartments grand opening this week, representing the fourth project to come online in the first quarter of this year.

Affirmed Housing’s five-story 100% affordable project at 3100 S. Bascom Ave. in the Cambrian neighborhood in West San Jose will provide 79 units of housing. Half will be reserved for formerly unhoused individuals while the remaining units will be set aside for households earning 60% or less of the area median income at a time when more and more of the county’s residents are facing greater housing insecurity due to the rising cost of living.

“The 79-unit development is 79 dreams of those who will come to this neighborhood,” said District 1 Supervisor Sylvia Arenas.

Vitalia Apartments will provide a mix of 46 studios, 16 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and five three-bedroom apartments. The project was built by Cahill Contractors and designed by Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP.

While the project was the first in San Jose to utilize AB 2162, the California law that offered a more streamlined approval process for affordable housing projects, the project had to navigate heavy resistance when it first was envisioned several years ago, said Rob Wilkins, Affirmed Housing’s vice president of Northern California.

Wilkins noted that several other developers passed up the site after it had been on the market for some time.

“Whenever I spoke to anyone knowledgeable about the viability of affordable housing and supportive housing here, they all said it was doable but we would get severe pushback,” Wilkins said. “They were right. Our first community meeting on Zoom included over 70 people, many of whom were unhappy about our proposed project, which was only made worse as they could not unmute themselves.”

Wilkins recalled that after the meeting one person showed up at his house to ask him how he would feel about the project being in his backyard, which prompted him to think about having community meetings in the neighbors’ backyards.

From there, Affirmed was able to produce renderings of what the project would be like from different vantage points and then made fundamental changes in response to neighborhood feedback, including putting parking underground and lowering the project from six stories to five.

District 9 Councilmember Pam Foley, who attested to the level of pushback the project received, credited Affirmed Housing with listening to the neighbors’ concerns about privacy and design.

“Everything you did took into consideration about how you could be a good neighbor for the neighbors surrounding us, who were many,” Foley said. “I have to say that was the biggest community outreach we had. Most other projects don’t get that level of pushback and I think that’s partly because we’re doing a good job of letting people know how important affordable projects are. Everyone knows how expensive it is to live in the city of San Jose and we know the only way out of it is to build more housing.”

San Jose has a particular need for housing with the state requiring that it add 62,200 total units by 2031, including 34,400 units that qualify as very low-, low- or moderate-income.

To help facilitate the $67.1 million project, Santa Clara County provided $15.8 million in Measure A funding, the $950 million affordable housing bond in Santa Clara County.

The affordable housing bond, which has now been fully spent, has helped fund 56 affordable housing projects that will produce more than 5,000 affordable units in the county.

“We have to build but we really have to stop the pipeline of people losing their housing,” said Santa Clara County Board President Susan Ellenberg.


San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan echoed those comments while also noting that the city was in for some tough times due to a reduction in Measure E, the real property transfer tax that generates funds for affordable housing, which said the city would be lucky to receive $45 million after receiving over $100 million a couple of years ago.

But despite San Jose’s wallet tightening up, he affirmed his support for the development of affordable projects and the city finding ways to financially help out when it can.

“We’re going to continue to dedicate funds every single year to new affordable projects because ultimately it’s the only way that our most vulnerable neighbors will have safety, stability and remain housed and have the dignity they deserve,” Mahan said.


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