According to The Gap, the latest report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in California there are only 25 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 low income family in need of one. In and around San Jose, which sits as the bridge between the wildly expensive Bay Area and Silicon Valley, a staggering 88% of low-income families are cost burdened and barely hanging on. A 2022 study by Angi found that San Jose’s housing crisis was the worst of any major metro area in the country. In recent years, community groups under the YIMBY label have been rallying to encourage the city and county to build more affordable housing, to mixed success.

Vitalia Apartments is bringing 79 new affordable rental homes to families and individuals with special needs in the Cambrian neighborhood of San Jose. This mixed-use development consists of a five-story residential building over garage parking. The design features two wings connected by a two-story open-air lobby and with a ‘bridge’ spanning the community with a roof deck overlooking the surrounding mountains. The building opens both to the new residents and to the outdoors through the lobby connected directly to a south-facing courtyard. The halls of Vitalia are unenclosed, taking advantage of the temperate Bay Area climate to provide natural ventilation, views, and connection to the surrounding nature — unusual in dense apartments in Northern California. The community includes a food pantry, computer room, rooftop deck, planters for residents to use, and a large courtyard with a play area.

The project was built with a focus on sustainable energy. It is GreenPoint Rated Platinum, with extensive use of photovoltaic solar panels and designed to eliminate 32,220 lbs. of carbon. Vitalia is an all-electric building with energy efficient appliances and a PV array to offset 50% of total loads and 75% offset of residential load. The project’s landscape design prioritizes water efficient landscaping and low flow plumbing throughout the community. The storm water design will reduce storm water run-off and run-off will be treated naturally at multiple on-site treatment areas.

Vitalia is the kind of luxury-feeling housing that lower-income families in San Jose deserve to call home.

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