“Living in the second most expensive housing market in the nation, it is incumbent upon leaders in Sacramento to identify short-term measures to house those with urgent needs and create long-term solutions to ensure everyone has access to safe, affordable housing. The housing affordability crisis is a dilemma that is a drain on our economy and leaves too many without a reliable place they can call home.”
When Ash’s family first moved to Canada in 1968 before he was born, they were fortunate to have many opportunities presented to them. Ash’s father worked hard to earn a scholarship to attend the University of Toronto. However, the scholarship did not cover the cost of housing so Ash’s parents, with his older brother who was an infant at the time, found themselves without a place to stay. They moved around, but were able to manage due to the kindness of others, staying at different professors and new friends’ homes. Eventually, they were able to secure an affordable housing apartment near the university. When Ash was born, it is this apartment that he was brought home to. It was this assistance in housing that allowed Ash’s family to finally have some stability. Grateful for their new found home, Ash’s family was able to successfully plant roots and contribute economically and socially to their new community.
With his own history in mind, Ash understands the importance of having a safe place every family can call home. He has earned a reputation of being a regional leader on issues surrounding housing affordability.
Ash has not only advocated for swift response to the homeless crisis, but he has also supported the development of higher density housing in appropriate neighborhoods with the understanding that we need more homes built, both affordable and market rate, in order to keep up with the demand for housing in our valley.
As a Board Member for the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, whose mission is to make Silicon Valley a more affordable place to live and as an Advisory Board Member of HomeFirst, the largest homeless shelter in Santa Clara County, Ash is:
- Leading the way to make loans and grants available that will increase the supply of affordable housing
- Assist first-time homebuyers start a new life in the Silicon Valley
- Preventing homelessness and stabilizing neighborhoods by supporting programs to help those in need
- Assisting the homeless and families at risk of losing their homes since the housing crash
- Supporting programs to help provide rental assistance for families
- Hosting training workshops where potential homeowners and realtors can learn the tools to keep families in their homes
Ash believes that we have the resources to tackle our homeless problem if we allocate our resources in an appropriate manner. For example, when Ash was the Chair of the Valley Transportation Authority, he rode the infamous Hotel 22, a bus line that runs 24 hours a day and has a number of homeless members of our community use it as a safe place to rest and not face the perils of sleeping in the streets. Ash rode the bus for 6 hours and was joined by social workers from HomeFirst. After Ash reported back to the VTA General Manager and Board, the organization looked into how they could effectively reach out to the homeless in and around VTA vehicles and stations. Now, the VTA has begun a pilot program that has social workers permanently reaching out to homeless individuals sleeping on the buses and trains or at stations to get them the help that they need and provide a better riding experience for all passengers.
Ash has used his personal and organizational experiences to create real and positive efforts while on the City Council:
- Committing to housing every homeless veteran in our city by 2018 by offering direct assistance as well as partnering with landlords to take in a homeless veterans, through the All the Way Home program
- Working with the faith community for short term emergency housing during cold and wet weather and working with congregations to find permanent housing for at least one homeless veteran, through the Housing One Hero program
- Sanctioning encampments for the homeless in order to provide a safe place for them to sleep that is away from existing neighborhoods with social services provided to move them into permanent housing rather than costly sweeps that do not provide for a solution to the lack of affordable homes
- Supporting micro home communities that give shelter to the chronic homeless
- Sanctioning parking lots for those who currently sleep in their vehicles
- Supporting the conversion of hotels to transitional homeless housing with social services provided to help individuals find permanent housing
- Funding of showers for Women’s Gathering Place, a drop-in center that provides a safe place for women who are homeless to address their unique needs
- Finding funding for Stand Up for Kids, a youth homeless drop-in center, so that they may remain open an additional day of the week to support this vulnerable population by creating a place to work on resumes, do their laundry, take shower and have a hot meal
- Supporting an inclusionary housing fee to ensure that 15% of new housing includes below market rate housing or funds are put in at the equivalent rate to build affordable housing
- Supporting a housing impact fee per new units built in San Jose with the funds being dedicated to affordable rental housing
- Supporting a moratorium on converting mobile home parks until strong regulations are in place to protect mobile home residents from displacement
- Updating our rent control ordinance in order to ensure that renters can continue to live with stability in our city without being abruptly priced out of a home
The State must directly play a role in providing housing stability and tackling homelessness throughout California. Currently, there are a number of proposals being floated in Sacramento. Some of the ideas have some promise. As a State Assembly member, Ash will:
- Use Cap and Trade funding, in part, to provide resources for affordable housing along transit corridors.
- The areas near our transit stations provide a perfect opportunity to build quality housing, including below market rate housing opportunities.
- Work with Senate President Kevin de Leon in his effort to invest $2 billion to provide homeless housing
- Identify new resources for affordable housing development, including a realtor document fee that is supported by state realtors as well as bond funds to build permanent affordable housing
- Work with the federal government and foundations to provide local governments assistance and resources to efforts that aim to house every veteran in the state who is homeless, like the All the Way Home program here in Santa Clara County
- Increase funding for programs to assist teachers in finding suitable housing in the community in which they teach and expand this effort to include our first-responders, such as police officers and fire fighters