Councilman Tam Nguyen Plans to Sleep in Portland Homeless Camp

Come Friday, San Jose Councilman Tam Nguyen will turn in for the night in a sleeping bag under the stars. Well, there may be a tent. Either way, he says, he’s ready to hunker down in the open air at Portland’s city-sanctioned homeless camp, a controversial tent settlement called Right 2 Dream Too. “I want to leave myself open to the experience,” Nguyen tells Fly, adding that he plans to proceed like “Dora the Explorer, ready to learn.” San Jose, home to at least 4,000 unsheltered inhabitants on a given night, has been studying the idea of a tent village despite resistance from Mayor Sam Liccardo and reluctant housing officials. Next month, the city’s head of homeless services, Ray Bramson, plans to report back to the City Council about the feasibility of a legal homeless camp. Though he has yet to draft that memo, he says it will enumerate regulatory barriers, namely health and safety codes, fire codes, building and habitability issues, and then some. Oh, and brace for the NIMBYs. If they’ve raised this big of a stink about motel-to-shelter projects, imagine the outcry over an institutionalized homeless camp. The foremost solution, Bramson says, is permanent housing followed by transitional shelter, converted motels and the like. But people need places until then, argues homeless activist Robert Aguirre, who lived in “The Jungle”—one of the nation’s largest illegal shantytowns—until 2014, when the city dismantled it in the dead of a wet winter. He’ll join Nguyen on his overnight trek along with Ibrahim Mubarak, a homeless man who founded the Right 2 Dream Too camp as well as Portland’s 17-year-old  “tiny home” village for the house-less. Nguyen says he’ll debrief the public about his field trip on June 13, the day before the council hears from Bramson on the matter.

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28 Comments

  1. Gee, SJ Mercury News went after Myron Von Raesfeld for talking about this.

  2. > Oh, and brace for the NIMBYs. If they’ve raised this big of a stink about motel-to-shelter projects, imagine the outcry over an institutionalized homeless camp.

    You got that right, Fly!

    Since mind numbed big hearts and progressives fail to address the real problem, we NIMBY’s are forced to grab them by the lapels and shout into their dazed, goofy faces:

    “IT’S NOT A REAL ESTATE PROBLEM! DO YOU UNDERSTAND! IT”S NOT A REAL ESTATE PROBLEM.”

    It’s a mental health problem.

    The chronically homeless are mainly chronically mentally ill. It’s NOT the Republican’s fault. It’s not society’s fault. It’s not Christianity or TV preacher’s fault. It’s the fault of mother nature or of crack dealers who pushed crack onto vulnerable youth or people or from wrecked or destroyed families. The best way to address homeless is to declare socially non-functional people wards of the state and place them in adequately funded state homes. It may offend the big heart’s sensibilities that we need to treat “the homeless” like free range chickens., but ultimately, it’s the most practical, efficient, and humane solution for a difficult problem.

    • You are correct that there should be facilities for the chronically mentally ill.

      However, there are a huge range of reasons that people can end up being homeless. So, it is not accurate to blame our massive problem with homelessness, on one cause.

      All of the experts, who carefully analyze the research, agree that the local economy is the driving force behind homelessness in this area. Every time a high tech company brings in 6,000 new jobs (no….there aren’t 6000 apartments available! In fact, there aren’t *any* apartments available!) one way or another 6,000 people will be displaced.

      Some of the higher paid engineers will have a ‘nest egg’ and can relocate to another area of the country. However, the lower paid ‘service workers’ are facing disasterous circumstances. We keep hearing about how, nation-wide, 50% of Americans, are living ‘paycheck to paycheck’ and could not survive a $500 emergency….in this area, where a 1-room apartment starts above $2000, this is a nightmare, for many.

      We are lucky to have a leader like Councilman Nguyen, who is honest enough to view the issue clearly!

  3. What a clown. Is Councilman Nguyen under the impression the controversy surrounding homeless camps has to do with the bum’s contentment or the camp’s ambiance? If he really wants to learn about the feasibility of homeless camps let him move himself and his family right next door to one and live there for a year. By doing so he can get a good read on what those cretins do to the livability of a neighborhood, the value of one’s property investment, the security of belongings left unlocked, etc. If he’s lucky, his family will adapt to his freeloading neighbor’s profane comments, putrid body odors, public urination and defecation, crazed intoxication, and aggressive panhandling; but if he’s not lucky, if he or someone he loves suffers a violent attack, he can be sure that the news media will either ignore it or identify the assailants not as “homeless” — as in homeless housing, homeless outreach, homeless tragedy, but as “transients,” the preferred term for use in the continued duping of good people.

    • Tam is aware of all of these issues, but he doesn’t care. Our neighborhood association president was chased at knifepoint by a homeless man on the Coyote Creek Trail near Capitol Expwy. At our last neighborhood association meeting at the Tully Branch Library a homeless man tried to set a truck on fire by stuffing burning rags into the gas tank. We pulled the rags out and detained the man. The neighbor who first detained the individual was attacked, last October, in front of his home by a knife-wielding homeless man. The police department is well aware of the crime that is coming from homeless individuals who are living along Coyote Creek, but the City of San Jose does not enforce trespassing laws even though they are polluting the creek with garbage and human waste.

      Instead, the city wants to build 160 studios for the chronically homeless at 2500 Senter Rd, a few hundred feet from where my neighbor was attacked. The city is using a 6 year old EIR for a totally different project and has not consulted the police department because they’re “not required to.” Residents will not be required to receive any treatment or remain sober. People with extensive criminal records and convictions for violent crimes will also be housed. This will be the largest type of facility for the chronically homeless in the country, as Ky Le director of supportive housing proudly announced. Tam supported this projected in January. He told concerned neighbors he had changed his mind and now opposed it, but we have not heard anything else from him. He didn’t even bother returning the Mercury News reporter’s phone call for a comment when they wrote about the project. A disgraced lawyer and joke of a representative.

      • > At our last neighborhood association meeting at the Tully Branch Library a homeless man tried to set a truck on fire by stuffing burning rags into the gas tank.

        I’ve said it before:

        “IT’S NOT A REAL ESTATE PROBLEM! DO YOU UNDERSTAND! IT”S NOT A REAL ESTATE PROBLEM.”

        It’s a mental health problem.

        Was I shouting?

  4. I hope Tam Nguyen gets all the facts because I curious and want to learn more. What is the crime rate in this “city”. Who keeps it secure? Are you going to speak with a local beat cop (not some brass that has to say the right thing)? How long can they stay? Are there goals they need to meet? What is the rate of success? What is the definition of success in this “City”? What is the cost?

    http://koin.com/2016/04/24/homeless-man-stabbed-outside-right-2-dream-too/

  5. Council member Tam No-Win is going to use our money to fly himself to Portland, Oregon in guise of doing somewhat “Missionary” work by “Sleeping with the Homeless”?! As if he is some kind of Saint, give me a break. As a Lawyer, his he was un-ethical and has been disgracefully banned from the Bar. People, what is wrong with this picture? Is there anything he can learn by “Sleeping” with the homeless in Portland vs. the homeless in our very own backyard and in his district?? This is nothing more then a publicity stunt that he will use to add to his resume as “hyped-up” efforts to further knowledge himself on multi-state homelessness. Tam’s approach to this problem is so elementary that it frustrates me to the bones! We should not be allowing our District Rep to be using our funding for costly research can be performed right here in our own County at a much lower cost to the City!!!! Tam Nguyen equals Tam No-Win!

  6. This is a really complex problem with no single “boil the ocean” solution. The reasons for homelessness varies from the inability to pay for housing, addictions, mental illness, those who choose to be homeless, those who are asked to leave by their families, etc. Creating a Homeless Camp only addresses a small segment of the homeless. I think that Councilman Tam would be well advised to refine his strategy so an encampment is not seen as a fix-all solution because you’re not addressing the root causes for homelessness by making the homeless disappear. Pretty sure it’s unconstitutional as well, you can’t force people to live there if they don’t want to, surely San Francisco is a good example of that.

    • Anon,
      You’re right, there is no way in hell I’d want to live in San Francisco, even if I was homeless!

  7. Council member Tam No-Win is going to use our money to fly himself to Portland, Oregon in guise of doing somewhat “Missionary” work by “Sleeping with the Homeless,”?!?! He is far from being a Saint, considering he is a thief and shamefully disbarred as an Attorney (http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/159601)! Tam should not be sitting as a District Representative.

    Is there anything he can learn by “Sleeping” with the homeless in Portland vs. studying the homeless in our very own backyard and within his own district? Are the City Leaders so untalented and lack creativity that they have to resort to plagiarizing the efforts of others? Learning from other’s is one thing, but believing there is a “One Size Fit’s All” mentality to fixing this problem is laziness!! What might work in one City, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in another. All one has to do is look to San Francisco if that were the case, and it would be cheaper then covering the cost of visiting to Portland, Oregon. And instead of running around trying to look as if you’re working on the problem by acting as if you’re gathering data, how about just sitting at the drawing board, begin looking at what you have to work with, and making it work! Push yourself to find a solution, if you’re talented enough! Instead of running around trying to find someone to give you the answer!

    This Portland journey is nothing more then a publicity stunt that he will use to add to his resume as “exaggerated” efforts to finding a solution. While at the end of the day, he will produce no solution to this homeless problem. Tam’s approach to this problem is so elementary that it frustrates me to the bones! We should not be allowing our District Rep to carelessly travel, using our funding for costly trips, when he could perform research right here in our own County at a much lower cost!

    How about understanding the homeless population within our own City, your own District. Categorizing the population into groups based on their cause for being homeless: mental illness, criminal element, bankruptcy, etc. Research the proper path to resolve those problems per group. If the greater population of homelessness is the result of mental health, as an example, then Santa Clara County should consider putting large amounts of money into creating mental health institutions, thinking about how much money was put into the football arena. These institutions should be constructed around Medical facilities for obvious reasons and not developed in residential area’s, for obvious reasons!

    While working on those efforts to “rehabilitate” the homeless, how about implementing programs for preventative efforts! That mean’s implementing record clearing programs, job trade/skill’s programs, apprenticeship incentives with any number of Tech Company’s in our “Silicon Valley!”

    All the while, making these efforts to help with the current homeless and preventative measures, we need to bring a balance of executing trespassing violations, drug possession’s, public disruptions and other legal policies in place. If a sign is posted, No Trespassing, then our law enforcement need to follow through with those violations. Our community is forced into accepting local law enforcement operating on a tier system. Meaning, the most threatening calls, top tier, will be addressed, while the lower tier or least harmful calls will be recorded but may not be addressed. Giving us the excuse that our Police Department lacks the significant number of Officers to address minor problems and that the department’s are spread thinly, brings up an entirely other problem with the City and that fall’s on Liccardo. Re-vamp our Police Department’s recruiting process. Get more local citizens hired on!

    So, while Tam is gallantly flocking about Portland, Oregon, his outdated ponytail in tote, sleeping with the “homeless,” remember that he works for Us, the Community of District 7. Despite Tam’s verbal word’s he yelled at one member who addressed him on the streets, “I don’t do what you tell me to do!”. Correction “No-Win,” he does or should be doing what WE the community tell him WE want done! That’s if he wishes to maintain his seat as a District Representative. A majority voted him in and don’t forget, a majority can vote him out of a job!!

  8. Tam Nguyen has been derelict in his duties to his constituents. I live in district 7 and have seen the mess he is trying to create for us. He was an attorney but has resigned recently. He resigned due to lack of fiduciary duty to his clients. When called on it he decided to resign from the California Bar, rather than fight it in court and be found guilty of a crime.

    If you are interested in reading up on Tam Nguyen’s disbarment, here’s the link:
    http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/159601

    Now we are his constituents and he has stated that he is not beholden to us and we are not his boss. Civics 101 tells me he is, as we elected him. We find that side deals with the County of Santa Clara have created for him a 12,500 square foot facility for his Vietnamese Cultural Center. But those of us that have been here prior to the Vietnam war are left without any representation. Our homes will plummet in value as we are close to the CHRONIC HOMELESS FACILITY he is voting for. We the constituents have been abandoned to fend for ourselves while he flys to Portland for 2 weeks as we are begging for his time in a meeting prior to the Vote by the City Council June 14th, 2016 appealing this huge facility. It will be the largest in the nation going in at 2500 SENTER ROAD near corner of Tully Road.

    Tam Nguyen refuses to come to our MCNA meetings at the Tully Road library for months. I have personally invited him but he refuses to go. We have them on the 2nd Thursday of every month.

    A little background on District 7’s Council Representative Tam Nguyen:

    For those who support him they have now succeeded in putting what appears to be a crook in the position of leadership. Tam Nguyen who praises himself as a success story and role model for the Vietnamese Community is not a positive role model!

    “According to the notice of the charges, Nguyen is accused of failing to notify his clients, Phi Truong and Truong’s minor son, Justin, that he’d received two checks from their insurance company, Mercury Insurance. Nguyen deposited the money into his trust account but failed to maintain the balance and didn’t pay the clients the money.”

    What the San Jose Mercury News is saying about Tam Nguyen:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/internal-affairs/ci_29514855/internal-affairs-san-jose-councilman-tam-nguyen-resigns

    Our next meeting for MCNA on June 9th, 2016 will discuss:

    June 14, 2016 “APPEAL OF LAND USE DECISION 2500 SENTER RD” PUBLIC HEARING FOR PROPOSED 162 UNIT HOUSING FACILITY FOR CHRONICALLY HOMELESS, SEVERLY MENTALLY ILL AND INDIVIDUALS WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES

    WHAT:APPEAL OF LAND USE DECISION 2500 SENTER ROAD 
WHEN:JUNE 14, 2016 AT 7PM 
WHERE:CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS 200 EAST SANTA CLARA ST., SAN JOSE CA 95113 
PARKING:UNDER CITY HALL BLDG ENTER UNDERGROUND PARKING FROM 6TH ST. (PARKING WILL BE VALIDATED AND FREE) 
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THIS MATTER PLEASE ATTEND OUR MCNA COMMUNITY MEETING ON JUNE 9TH AT 7PM LOCATED AT TULLY LIBRARY HALL. THANK YOU!

  9. I visited Tam’s District 7 website and read his introduction. The introduction mentions that he will be commited in listening to our voices. How is that possible if he doest attend the MCNA community meetings held every second Thursday of each month. To make matters worse every time that we the neighbors request to meet with him he wants to select who can be present. This is so unprofessional! We the community have expressed many concerns regarding the proposed development of the 162 Unit Residential Service Facility at 2500 Senter Road ( it is going to be the largest homeless facility in the United States at a walking distance of three elementary schools) This size of facility has never been tested before so our communities will be tested. I am really worried about my children who walk to and from school. There will be a public hearing for the Appeal of land Decision on June 14th at 7pm.

  10. Thanks so much for Tam Nguyen taking the time to meet with homeless people, converse with them, and have an open mind to considering a broad range of possible solutions to the problem. No one that I know who advocates for sanctioned encampments, like the one in Portland, or for the Evans Lane project, or the Senter Road permanent supportive housing, sees any one of these approaches as the only solution – what is needed is all of these and more. What makes absolutely no sense is for people who complain about homeless people living in their creeks, or on the streets, to OPPOSE a project that will provide them with housing where they can live like decent human beings, with sanitation and trash facilities like everyone else. If you really don’t like people living outside in your neighborhood, you should be the first ones to support the Senter Road project that will bring them inside and off the streets. The longer we as a community fail to house the homeless, the worse the problem will get.

    • Sandy Perry- I think the Mayor and the entire Council need to spend a few days sleeping in a homeless camp, and in their cars with working families in church parking lots, and on neighborhood streets. May be then they’ll see that the “new homeless” could be them.

      We are all one pay check, and one illness a way from homelessness.

      • > I think the Mayor and the entire Council need to spend a few days sleeping in a homeless camp, and in their cars with working families in church parking lots, and on neighborhood streets.

        Which will do more to address the “homeless” problem:

        A. Moral exhibitionism by a few grandstanding politicians sleeping in a homeless camp.
        B. Increasing the disposable income and reducing the debt burdens of those at risk of becoming “homeless”.

    • Sandy, your attempt to argue that we acceptance an “anything approach,” is weak, costly and short lived. You might not be up to date with the current information regarding the 2500 Senter Project and Evans Lane Project? Neither of these projects guarantee that the homeless living in the local creek’s will have a place in either housing facility. Those tenants will be from area’s other then the immediate area. You would know that if you attended the meetings, listened to the enormous amount of concerned citizens questions, and paid attention to both Charities Housing’s response and Santa Clara County’s response. Campaigning for a “Something is better than nothing” approach only show’s a lack of problem solving skills, and desperateness of our reps. We, as a community, have tolerated this problem for years and have been patient for years, waiting for a solution. Mayor Gonzales failed, Mayor Reed failed, and now Mayor Liccardo has a bigger mess, as it has grown into something much worse then before! All those earlier years, we were just given some Bullsh*it excuse or faux pas plan about dealing with the homeless problem. Only to realize now, that those early attempts were nothing more then mediocre efforts to ease our concerns. Well, the time has come and we are fed up! That doesn’t displace our sympathy or empathy to the problem. We are now protecting what we have worked very hard for and will not tolerate a forced problem to be placed in our yards!! We lack hospitals within close proximity to aid these people, we lack proper local and county law enforcement to monitor the region, and not mention the threat of being subjected to an increased criminal element. So Sandy, feel free to post your address and we’ll be sure to include it on handouts for the homeless to camp out in your front yard, since you’re so willing to suggest that other’s accept it!!

    • – “If you really don’t like people living outside in your neighborhood, you should be the first ones to support the Senter Road project…”

      No, what I support is the homeless be held just as accountable to the law as are the rest of us who are coerced to pay taxes and road fees, pay for garbage removal and the repair of our sidewalks and curbs, pay to keep the street trees trimmed, and pay when we violate any of the too numerous to mention revenue-generating or quality of life laws. What I support is that criminal convictions be used to incarcerate the homeless in rural camps where the annoyingly compassionate can select one or two for adoption, the professional do-gooders can work to salvage the .05% who still have a relative who doesn’t want them dead, and mental health and substance abuse experts can sort through them and determine which locked facility will best serve their needs as well as those of civilization.

  11. They call us NIMBY’s Not in my back yard people. Tam Nguyen say’s “If not in your backyard then where?” Of course it now comes to light that Tam doesn’t even live in district 7. So where is his back yard? How about “why not in your back yard”. Of course who ever wrote the above piece does not live anywhere near Tully and Senter Road. My guess is they live in one of the other Districts which have one fourth the amount of Restricted Low Income Housing, such as District 10 (Almaden). My guess is that this person doesn’t realize that Charities Housing is asking for an 85 year lease. My eight year old grandson attending Stonegate Elementary will be 93 years old when this Mental Facility is up for renewal. Why call it a Mental Facility you say? Because it is for only the Chronic Homeless. That is for people whom happen to be homeless but at the same time must be mentally ill, or suffer from drug or anchol addiction, or suffer from a physical impairment or all of the above, but it must be so limiting in their life as to affect there daily lives. They can not ever get a job. They can not have a family. They can not come from transitional housing. They must be single. They must be warehoused there on a permanent basis and most likely never leave until the day that die. This is not transitional housing where they get a better life and move on. This is as this person stated PERMANENT HOUSING. This is the warehousing of the worst derelicts our society produces on a forever basis, 85 years. If you have been a felon or a sex offender you can not be turned away, as they have equal fair housing status. We have three elementary schools within walking distance of this Night of the Living Dead facility. Once they are in they can have alcohol in their 360 square foot studio apartment. Most of the homeless I meet on the street have alcohol dependency issues. This is enabling that vulnerable population to more addiction not less. Our County and City are merely passifying a population of chronic drug and alcohol abusers to get them out of sight. But they won’t be out of sight. It turns out this chronic population is free to wander as free agents. They will receive library cards as new San Jose residents. The San Jose police department eventually encounters most of these homeless sooner or later. From the officers including a Captain which I have talked with, state that at least 50% of this population comes from outside our area. That is from all over the country. District 7 of San Jose is being asked to house the largest facility of this kind in the whole United States of America. That is why the more affluent communities are saying put it in South Central San Jose. They already have most of the low income housing of the City anyway. What’s another 300-400 of the worst of the worst going to do to them? They’re already screwed!

    • Commonsense,
      I live in District 10 and I would LOVE to see supportive and/or transitional housing built here. PLEASE build it in my backyard! There are already homeless living on the streets here and sleeping behind buildings and when I stop to talk to them they are a whole lot nicer than most of the people that I now encounter in San Jose! Build it right here in District 10 – put it right next to Oakridge Mall. There is a Coco’s out of business on the corner of Blossom Hill and Winfield. It has been closed for about a year. There is also an office depot that closed down and a Beverly’s fabric that closed down. Please build it in my backyard!!!! The homeless are already living here in front of and behind these closed businesses. Why can’t we offer a tax break to these land owners to open up their commercial properties and let the homeless use the restrooms and have a place to sleep? These places are going to stay empty for YEARS as the City of San Jose begins its “parcel assembly” business in order to begin the process of planning an Urban Village here. In the meantime there are many closed blighted buildings and I would love it if we could help house the homeless during this time. Coco’s has a kitchen too! We could set up an emergency shelter in Coco’s and shelter the homeless and begin even cooking meals. Can’t we come up with solutions faster?

      In any case, I’d love to see a transitional housing center built right next to me here near Oakridge Mall in District 10. Yes…please…in my backyard!!! And yes, in District 10!!!

  12. While sleeping in a homeless camp to get the experience is admirable, setting up a tent City in San Jose is not a good, safe, or practical idea. Getting FEMA trailers, building tiny homes, or setting up manufactured homes in open spaces, with water, garbage, and plumbing is. Providing services for the mentally ill needs to happen yesterday!

    Collaborating with surrounding cities to get them to start building their fair share of housing to house THEIR employees instead of dumping the problem on San Jose, like they’ve done for decades, is desperately needed. Getting the VA to house our Vets is mandatory and needs to happen NOW!

    There are “new homeless” non mentally ill, working poor families living in their cars in church parking lots, and riding the bus with their children all night long, just to have shelter.

    When are we going to STOP talking about this and actually do something about homelessness, outrageous rents, and over priced home sales?

  13. > When are we going to STOP talking about this and actually do something about homelessness, outrageous rents, and over priced home sales?

    All of these problems would be addressed by creating a climate where people had more disposable income and less debt.

    Stop cramming people with SSI debt, welfare debt, medical debt, student loan debt, etc. etc.
    Make income producing jobs more accessible to the skills and abilities of AMERICANS who live here.

    The people in charge in California have really screwed things up. Made it’s time to throw the bums out.

    1. CALIFORNIA HAS HIGHEST POVERTY RATE OF ANY STATE

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/005026-california-land-poverty

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/california-poverty-rate/

    2. CALIFORNIA HAS WORST BUSINESS CLIMATE

    http://chiefexecutive.net/california-is-the-worst-state-for-business-2014/

    • sjoutsidethebubble- Agreed, adding one thing to the mix, BUILD SOME HOUSING! Hold surrounding cities accountable for NOT building their fair share of housing. Get some FEMA housing up, open some space up around the valley to allow RVs and campers with people living in them to have a decent place to stay. Tiny homes will work. Housing over businesses will work. Allowing the building of Granny Units will work.

      “Make income producing jobs more accessible to the skills and abilities of AMERICANS who live here.” Amen to that! And make it affordable!

      Stop voting in the old guard and old ways of doing things. It’s NOT working anymore!

      Instead of working against one another, let’s start working together to solve this.

  14. To Jill who lives in District 10. To be fair and compare apples to apples we need your address so we can put this right next to your backyard. Not in a retail area. Not in a commercial area. Not in an industrial area. This needs to abut your property line. Then you can hear the night screams for yourself. You see they want this to be literally in our back yards. How do you like them apples?

    • Don’t forget, Kathleen, that these tiny little rabbit hutches, likely unfit for human habitation, will necessarily have to be situated on some very expensive San Jose real estate. Think: $150 per square fit, or more.

      And these cute little homey cottages are NOT going to be crammed together like sardines, but undoubtedly need some cute little homey yards with birdbaths and white picket fences.

      Bottom line, I think if you take the prices for these “homes” and triple them, you’re beginning to grasp what the “all-up” cost of these doll houses will be.

      $150,000 to $200,000 per bum is VERY expensive housing on a per unit basis.

      Not to mention that the construction permits for building these dreamer houses are probably going to be $20,000 per doll house.