City Looks to Spend $2 Million to House the Homeless

San Jose may spend $2 million to find jobs and homes for 100 people now living in the city’s sizeable homeless encampments. The City Council on Tuesday will consider a one-year, $650,000 contract with the San Jose Streets Team, an organization that finds work and housing for homeless people who can and want to work. The rest of the money will pay for security deposits, rental subsidies and move-in costs.

The housing program will target the transitionally homeless—as opposed to the chronically homeless, who receive help from another city-subsidized program.

“Case management services to this subpopulation should be less intensive than for the chronically homeless, and should be needed only as long as is necessary for the individuals to achieve stability after being housed and employed,” Leslye Corsiglia, director of Housing, writes in a memo.

The streets team employs what they call a “work-first” model in which homeless clients take on a job—janitorial work, for example—in exchange for food and housing vouchers. The goal is to have 75 percent of people housed within six months of intake. Once housed, the client will continue to touch base with a case manager to make sure they stay on track to becoming economically independent.

Last year’s homeless census estimated that 4,700 people in San Jose sleep in the streets on a given night—an 18-percent increase from the 2011 count—and that more than 12,000 experience homelessness in a given year. Twenty-six percent of people polled said they live in encampments, where 96 percent of respondents said they would want permanent housing if it were available. Sixty-five percent said their inability to afford rent kept them on the streets.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for February 11, 2014:

• San Jose has seen an unexpected spike in construction, which brought in $11.4 million developer fees for the city. That added revenue will pay for service demands in the planning and public works departments, according to the mid-year budget review. The mid-year report also says overall funding has stabilized this year after a decade with net general fund shortfalls of $700 million, though service levels aren’t yet where they should be.

The city will have to sell 31 properties at a loss as part of the 2011 state-ordered dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. Some of the properties were bought for $1 million or more and are on the market now for $250,000 or less. Several of the lots for sale are parking lots. Others include the Mexican Heritage Center Plaza retail center, Camera 12 Cinemas, the San Jose Stage Theater and an old fire station.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

7 Comments

  1. Jenn W;

    With reference to the $650,000 to be spent on a “one-year contract” with “San Jose Streets Team,” this allocation of taxpayer monies is yet another travesty of taxpayer monies squandered.

    This example of throwing good money away, to appease political conscience or for political gain in an election year, towards yet another a non-profit with connections to the Housing Department is all too predictable by a Council who takes the position everyone deserves a home in San Jose.

    This entirely foolish act is yet another reason, in conjunction with many other reasons to eliminate the Housing Department altogether. This will not abate “homelessness” but only serve as foundation to the “entitlement of free housing in San Jose” while enriching hosts of special interests that do not serve the public’s intentions.

    With reference to your passing comment concerning the “Long Range Management Plan’s requirement” to dispose of properties acquired by the defunct Redevelopment Agency;

    The “Long Range Management Plan” redefines “scandalous waste of taxpayer monies” when one realizes “the tens-of-millions of taxpayer dollars that will be lost.” There should, in my opinion, carry with the sell-off of public property at atrocious losses, criminal and civil punishments for all those so connected with these properties.

    Maybe this is one reason why Mayor Reed several weeks ago established the framework for a “Legal Defense Fund” for Council members who might get sued and have to defend themselves (another more poignant reason could be associated with Measure B).

    Jenn W- for you to give just a “passing remark” concerning the atrocities associated with the Long Range Management Plan’s divestiture, I am heartily dismayed with the “San José Insider.” The readers expect better. Much, much better.

    David S. Wall

  2. David,

    It would be better to direct your antipathy at city leaders who are making the decisions than a writer who is simply providing an advance of the San Jose City Council—perhaps the lone weekly preview of meetings among all city media—while working on multiple other stories.

    Your comment was approved because there is merit to your argument.

    Thanks for reading,

    JK

    • JK;

      The issue: “It would be better to direct your antipathy at city leaders who are making the decisions than a writer who is simply providing an advance of the San Jose City Council…”

      The Long Range property Management Plan has been written about by the San José Inside a few weeks or so ago.

      I responded at that time and suggested that the San José Inside conduct an exposé of the Long Range Property Management Plan due to the projected severe losses of taxpayer monies.

      To my knowledge, I have written to and have spoken to Council about the Long Range Property Management Plan atrocities more than anyone, including all of the local media combined.

      I’m sorry if I inadvertently chaffed Jenn W’s hide. I personally like her stories and her personal views concerning my missives on the “Public Record.”

      The issue: “…providing an advance of the San Jose City Council—perhaps the lone weekly preview of meetings among all city media—while working on multiple other stories” is what I do, via the City of San José “Public Record.” The “Public Record,” as you are aware, appears as “Item E” on every week’s “Rules and Open Government Committee.”

      The first time the Long Range Property Management issue appeared on a City Council Agenda for preview at “Rules,” I questioned several property losses such as the properties assembled into one property across from city hall and those properties assembled for the accursed baseball stadium scandal.

      Ever since that fateful day at “Rules,” the “Long Range Property Management Plan” has been “deferred” by Council several times.

      The last few weeks or so, I have been humorously suggesting to Mayor Reed (Chairman of the “Rules” committee) that if he wants to be of assistance to every Councilmember running for Mayor, to, “Keep on deferring, the Long Range Property Management Plan, until the primary is over because, when the taxpayers realize that have been routinely “taken to the cleaners” by Council candidates” his cronies will not receive very many votes.” To be fair, CM Oliverio’s voting record on these properties is somewhat different than the other announced Council candidates.

      Sorry, Jenn W!

      David S. Wall

  3. this is just another slap in the face of our police and fire.  City claims we have no money and yet they give 2 million to the homeless.  And what about the 11.4 million they brought in?  And they still want to give away pennies on the dollar to sell off land.  What a joke!

    By the way another 5 officers resigned this month so far to go to other departments.  Another 7 are in the process to leave as well.  Tired of all the news agencies saying SJPD is down from 1400 officers to 1000.  Well the actual number is 845 and still free falling.

    Thank you city council!

      • On the surface it makes perfect sense and Downtown Streets seems like a worthwhile program. However, it and similar programs have had little success with the chronically homeless.

        An effort was made at St. James park, but tools were stolen, the supervisory overhead cost more than the homeless labor benefitted, and lots of litter remained.

        Downtown streets has been successful with a relatively small segment of the homeless population.

        My fiends at Catholic Charities say about 1/3rd need short term assistance, another third need longer term socialization and job training, and the remaining third need to be institutionalized.

        Goodwill has a similar perspective.

        My sense is that we’re wasting money of permanent homeless housing until we reinstate something like poor farms – aka “self sufficient structured living environments”. That would compassionately address about 2/3rd of the homeless population without bankrupting our finances.

        The “build more homeless housing” advocates want us to spend more on homeless housing than we spend on roads. We simply can’t afford it.

        Plus there’s the “if we build it, they will come” argument. Our generous benefits have made SJ a homeless magnet. Providing ‘no strings attached’ homeless benefits (which SJ has) will simply exacerbate the problem.

  4. The City needs to start spending time focusing on chronic homelessness.

    Permanently housing chronic homeless will save the county thousands of dollars in health, incarceration, and other services.