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Call It By Its Name: Middle Class Housing


This article was written by Jessie O'Malley Solis, VTA Sr. Real Estate Agent

Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County) is the epicenter of America’s current gold rush.  Our county has the highest median income in the nation with almost 60% of our households making $75,000 per year and above.

That begs the question: what is affordable housing?  The name itself is a great misnomer.  As real estate prices and rents continue to soar in Silicon Valley the middle class struggles with how to find housing they can afford to buy or rent.

VTA is working hard on providing housing solutions in the Valley by way of recent policy adoption and commitment by the VTA Board with adoption of the Joint Development Affordable Housing Policy in late 2016. 

This progressive policy ensures that VTA’s Joint Development Portfolio housing offerings will be built out with an average of a 35% affordable housing portfolio and not less than 20% at an individual site.

Neighborhoods erupt in NIMBY turf wars over the concept of affordable housing in their areas, because affordable often comes in the form of high density.  But would there still be so much opposition if they knew what affordable housing really was? 

The tables below summarize affordable rental rates in Silicon Valley based on household income: 

2017 Santa Clara County Income and Rent Limits​

Area Median Income Income
(family of 2)
Rent limit: 1 BR
(family of 2)
(family of 3)
Rent limit: 2BR
(family of 3)
(family of 4)
Rent limit: 3BR
(family of 4)
120% $108,750 $2,719 $122,350 $3,059 $135,950 $3,399
50% $47,800 $1,045 $53,750 $1,344 $59,700 $1,493
30% $28,650 $628 $32,250 $806 $35,800 $895


Many of the neighbors fighting against affordable housing are likely to qualify themselves.  This housing is for our teachers, our retired neighbors, our children looking to establish themselves out of college, and it is very likely for us.  Let’s plan mixed income neighborhoods that reflect the needs of the people working hard every day in our Valley. 

VTA’s Joint Development Program was established in 2009 and its focus is to build great mixed-use and mixed income Transit Oriented Developments throughout the county aiming to increase public transit ridership and provide for long term income sources for transit operations.  We work with developers and cities throughout the county to come up with workable plans for the community, and in the process hopefully alleviate some of the overwhelming traffic that continues to choke our highways and compromise air quality and quality of life. 

VTA encourages partnerships with other organizations, city and county governments and community leaders  to help carry out what we see as a responsibility to make this a more livable community for us all.

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