After three years of waiting, San Jose has finally unveiled its first tiny home community.
The sleeping cabins will house 40 homeless individuals on a Mabury Road property owned by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
The new experimental community, which aims to transition homeless people into long-term housing, stems from a 2016 law authored by former Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose). Dubbed AB 2176, the law suspends building codes through 2021 to help construct more emergency shelters.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Sam Liccardo called the grand opening a “moment of hope” as the city awaits to build more permanent housing.
“In the meantime, as we’re waiting for projects to get from conception to completion, we have homeless brothers and sisters out on the street,” he said. “And so as we’re building the supportive housing we need transitional housing solutions. We need immediate solutions that we can build quickly and cost-effectively and that is where this bridge housing came into being.”
“It takes a village to build a tiny home village (in San Jose).” Thanks Mayor @sliccardo for your fierce leadership in making this important project for the homeless happen! #WeareSanJose pic.twitter.com/zGSxrxkO8m
— Rosario Neaves (@RosarioNeaves) February 27, 2020
The tiny homes, which will be overseen by the non-profit HomeFirst, are expected to serve 120 homeless people in the first year, with 40 residents moving on to permanent housing every four months. Since its opening, two formerly unhoused residents have already moved into long-term housing.
Liccardo was joined by a number of city and state leaders, including state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), who authored a 2018 law that allows San Jose to lease unused Caltrans properties for $1 a month. The city is moving forward with its second tiny home community at a Caltrans site adjacent to Felipe Court and at the intersection of highways 280, 680 and 101.
Now: I’m joined by @CAgovernor Gavin Newsom & elected officials to launch San José’s first Bridge Housing Community. This “tiny home” community provides interim housing w/ services for employment & housing searches—acting as a bridge between homelessness & permanent housing. https://t.co/FI7Bv5QV34
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) February 27, 2020
“We need to have all the available Caltrans property that are possible for these kinds of projects,” Beall said. “We ought to be looking at them all over the state. …We have to have a sustained effort.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has put building more housing at the forefront of his agenda, also showed up for the momentous occasion. The state’s top leader applauded the city for its work in fighting the ballooning homeless population at a local level. “You are in the application of our ideals,” he said. “The state vision to solve this crisis will be realized at the local level. Project by project. …We are resolved to scale programs like this. The idea is this is not permanent supportive housing, this is about transitioning people.”
Besides the 40 tiny homes, the Mabury Road site includes other amenities such as showers, a kitchen, laundry and computers. Residents will also have access to wifi, which is being donated by Comcast, and assistance with finding jobs and permanent housing.
We’re out at the first Bridge Housing Community grand opening in San Jose! Soon we’ll be joined by @sliccardo @GavinNewsom @CAgovernor @HomeFirstSCC @VTA @HabitatEBSV! #bridgehousing pic.twitter.com/emPIJvnS3I
— San José Housing Dept. 🏙️🏘️ (@sjcityhousing) February 27, 2020