San Jose plans to spend the next six months converting the shuttered Plaza Hotel into a temporary shelter for homeless people.
The City Council on Tuesday will vote on a $1.8 million housing grant to renovate the 49-room downtown inn. Housing nonprofit Abode Services will manage the property under a five-year lease agreement with a planned start date of this fall.
Last September, the council voted 10-1 to to buy the defunct hotel next to the Caravan Lounge and Greyhound bus station, and turn it into apartments for the homeless.
The building sat empty since the city’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) bought it in 2008. The RDA successor agency—which took over the property after the state dissolved RDAs in 2012—sold it to the city's Housing Department in December for $740,000.
But the building needs new floors, paint and bathrooms to make it habitable again. If the council approves the remodeling grant, Abode and the city’s Housing Department will find a contractor to fix the place up in time to move in homeless tenants before the year’s end.
Once Abode takes up the city’s lease, the nonprofit will oversee property management and 24-hour on-site services for tenants. Abode would collect rent, maintain the facility and respond to tenant concerns. It would also coordinate supportive social services and prepare a transition plan for future use of the property once the lease is up.
The $2.5 million cost to flip the Plaza Hotel would be cheaper than building a new apartment complex for the homeless, the city noted. Plus, it revitalizes an abandoned building in the heart of the city, close to public transit and social services.
At a price of about $1,050 a month per unit, the monthly operating costs would amount to $51,450, according to the city. Tenant housing coupons would pick up the tab, but the city says it will continue to look for other resources to cover operational costs.
Homeless people with a city or Santa Clara County housing voucher would qualify for placement at the Plaza Hotel. They must be able to work and eventually become independent.
“Since these individuals are not considered chronically homeless, the goal of the project is for the duration of their tenancy to be relatively brief,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, the city’s housing director. “[That is], until a longer-term or permanent housing option is available, or they become self-sufficient.”
The Plaza Hotel is one of about 100 former redevelopment properties the city is trying to sell off by way of its Successor Agency.
Last fall, Councilman Manh Nguyen voted against the project, citing concerns about placing a large number of homeless people in the thick of downtown. The San Jose Downtown Association echoed his sentiment. Private developers have been eyeing the Greyhound station and nearby properties for redevelopment.
But the city’s five-year plan means the Plaza Hotel could be used for something else in the future. For the time being, however, the city—which claims the fourth-largest homeless population in the nation—has prioritized affordable housing to reduce the number of people living on the streets.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 15, 2016:
- Code enforcement has curbed illegal dumping by upping the fines for violators, installing cameras and other deterrents in “hot spots” and rolling out a three-language educational campaign. Since January, a crew from GreenTeam has cleaned up 24 tons of junk—250 trash bags and 300 large items such as furniture and mattresses—from problem areas in downtown and the city’s East Side. It has eliminated the 6,500-request backlog for large item pickups. In May, a partnership with San Jose State University’s CommUnversity will host a student “move-out” swap meet to encourage people to recycle old items and properly dispose of the rest.
- City officials want more time to study a plan to build a seven-field soccer complex near Avaya Stadium.
- San Jose may revise its taxi regulations. Proposed changes include allowing licensed mechanics to inspect vehicles instead of the San Jose Police Department, and allowing passengers to ride in the front seat.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260