Displaced Sunnyvale Homeless Residents Are a Symptom of a Broader Regional Issue

Before 2010, Joel Alejo more or less always lived with family. Then, his grandmother died unexpectedly and Alejo was out of a home for several years until 2017, when he landed a job maintaining a pair of homes in San Leandro.

Last year, that dried up, too, sending him spiraling into homelessness again.

“It is hard, really. There is no way to live comfortably outside when it is raining and windy,” he says. “It is hard. It is really hard. Sometimes, I would like to cry.”

Alejo made his way to Mountain View, where, he says, a police dog bit him while he slept outside in a neighborhood. A friend told him about a community of homeless people at Fair Oaks Park in Sunnyvale, which seemed like a good fit, so he followed the lead.

Now, Alejo is on the move again, along with the other residents of the Fair Oaks homeless encampment in the South Bay city. The city dispersed the encampment in late February as part of a $17 million renovation of the 15-acre park.

His story is similar to countless homeless residents in Silicon Valley, where a housing crunch has helped push prices up beyond reach for many people—even during a pandemic that has resulted in newly untethered workers leaving the state as employers switch to remote work arrangements.

But now the region’s longtime housing and homeless crisis is paired with a pandemic that puts homeless residents at enormous risk to contract and spread a potentially deadly virus. Simultaneously, the pandemic lockdowns also created gaping fiscal deficits for cities and counties as the economy stumbled and tax dollars dwindled over the past year.

Those challenges are being felt especially hard in smaller Silicon Valley cities, like Sunnyvale, which typically don’t have much of a budget—if any—to address the growing number of homeless residents in the region.

Making Moves

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cities should not sweep homeless encampments during the Covid-19 pandemic, unless it is to provide housing for the camp’s residents. So, the city of Sunnyvale relocated some—but not all—of the park’s residents to a hotel with onsite services.

But one longtime homeless advocate, Shaunn Cartwright, says the city only did so because she and others raised hell.

Even now, Cartwright says the accommodations at the hotel are insufficient and a result of a hurried effort by Sunnyvale to get Fair Oaks residents out of the park as quickly and quietly as possible. Security at the hotel is untrained in de-escalation and the level of case management service is subpar because only one person is devoted to it, she says.

Cartwright claims the city is caving to vocal groups of thin-skinned neighbors.

“These [neighbors] seem to have more influence than government officials, who lack spines and political courage,” she says. “If people said ‘That is not my cup of tea’ instead of rallying the neighbors and getting torches, it would be so much better.”

Sunnyvale city officials say they’re doing their best to find a safe solution for the ousted homeless residents while balancing the rising costs of the project at the park, which needs sewer and electric work.

That kind of construction poses a hazard to people living on-site, but delaying the project would push up costs—something the city can’t afford in the wake of a pandemic that left government coffers emptier than before, city spokeswoman Jennifer Garnett says.

So far, Sunnyvale has spent more than $400,000 to relocate Fair Oaks residents and provide them onsite services such as case management, toiletries and meals.

“As a city, we don’t have the staffing and the money to provide services for the unhoused,” Garnett says. “When we plan out our budget, we do not expect to provide services for these people.”

The Big Picture

In the case of Fair Oaks residents, HomeFirst Services, a non-profit funded largely by government grants, coordinated Sunnyvale’s relocation of Fair Oaks residents to 18 rooms at the Travel Inn in the city.

The relocation came with a time crunch, but the nonprofit and Sunnyvale officials did the best they could, says Stephanie Demos, a spokeswoman for HomeFirst. She says the outcome was positive.

“There will always be people in the community who want to see things done differently, and we appreciate their passion,” Demos says. “We are very lucky … we have some outspoken advocates—some with lived history.”

Cartwright and Demos disagree on the success of the Fair Oaks relocation.

But they agree the entire situation is a symptom of a larger problem: a startling lack of affordable housing.

“The only real solution to homelessness is housing,” Demos says.

Demos says she hopes cities will take a cue from San Jose, which has erected new bridge housing communities and emergency interim housing programs during the pandemic. Those kinds of collaborations that involve cities, counties, nonprofits and the private sector are the key, she adds.

Ray Bramson, chief operating officer at Destination:Home, a public-private partnership aimed at ending homelessness, echoed the sentiment.

“It is a challenge that no one city can solve on their own, it is a community problem that requires a community solution,” he says. “If we have people sleeping on the streets of our community, there is more we can all do. Even if you are going to alleviate their suffering in two years, we need to do something today.”

The ideal solution is a home for everyone, Bramson says, but before lingering on that idea too long, he adds, “but that is not going to happen.”

Programs like Project Roomkey, a California Department of Social Services initiative rolled out in March 2020 to offer temporary housing to homeless residents during the pandemic, are a bright spot, he says. The state has since rolled out Project Homekey, meant to turn some of the hotels, motels and apartment buildings used in Project Roomkey into permanent housing for the homeless.

“If you can come together with a collective set of values and goals, you can accomplish great things,” Bramson says. “As a country, we have never come to grips with the lack of resources and a lack of a safety net absent for decades.”

While the pandemic seems to have gotten people thinking about some of those larger issues, people like Alejo’s immediate needs haven’t gone away.

He was nervous about the relocation from Fair Oaks, but says he is grateful for the services being provided.

“I am so very, very happy,” Alejo says.

“My plan is to get up on my feet, to get a job, any job.”


  1. One idea that might help is the reinvention of the Works Projects Administration [WPA] and the [Civilian Conservation Corps] which initially were created during the Great Depression.

    Our forests need managing, there is stable, long term work regarding this project.

    It is certain and will not be popular, there will be a diaspora of people who cannot afford to live in the Bay Area.

    “The Homeless Industrial Complex” must be viewed as what they are; pernicious, predatory, parasites; who prey upon the Homeless, under the guise of nonprofit and or public benefit corporations.

    It is my prayer, “The Homeless Industrial Complex” is completely defunded.

    David S. Wall

  2. Each town should be responsible for people that were born there. Homeless need to go back to their place of birth and seek help there. Sunnyvale, or any town, cannot be expected to support “tourist” homeless.

  3. Oh but David, these people can’t work because life hurt their feelings. The best we can hope for is to give them just enough to buy their drugs and an optional gas station burrito everyday.

  4. We need to stop playing this ridiculous game of saying that the homelessness crisis can be fixed with building more housing — it can’t! The reasons that the vast majority of people are homeless is because of mental illness, addiction (which exacerbates mental illness), and antisocial behavior.

    Here is a key point in this article:

    “Security at the hotel is untrained in de-escalation and the level of case management service is subpar because only one person is devoted to it, she says.”

    You need security to handle just a few people? After you give them housing they need more support? Why? Because they will NOT obey the rules! And, most likely, they are literally unable to do so. The last time I checked into a motel, I didn’t ask if the staff was trained in de-escalation. Why is de-escalation needed? Because the are unable to live in polite society.

    Is it really true that the City spent $400,000 because a couple of “activist” raised hell? Really?

    And, the insult to property owners and renters! Calling them “thin skinned” because they don’t want, drugs, needles, and crime brought into their neighborhood is outrageous.

  5. To HB,

    How about we build homes first before you spout out your obnoxious little mouth. When NIMBYism prevails and drives the cost of housing to a million dollars, this is what happens.

    This country messed up by treating housing as an asset class. It’s time to change that and drive the price of this commodity that it is down, down and way down.

    Oh amd do you know that you or your future generation is one step away from being in their situation you sorry little prick?

  6. To Robert Cortese,

    I don’t ever hope that someday you or your kids are ever in their situation but you know what, I’ll make an exception.

    Maybe you or your kids do someday experience that so that you know how to treat folks who are down on their luck.

    God, how did Silicon Valley collect all these entitled little NIMBY jerks?

  7. There is plenty of empty new office and parking construction in Sunnyvale along Mathilda and West California. Why not move the people there? The buildings have been sitting empty for months.
    And the ones under construction could be used for this purpose as well. The utilities are in place.

  8. I think all of the homeless should be deported to Mexico and then allowed to re-enter as illegals. That way Biden can provide food, housing, education, welfare, vaccinations, full medical and job training. FEMA has already been activated and sent to the border to help in this “non-crisis” situation. Why not add the over 150K homeless in california to the number of illegals? It would only double the headcount.

  9. To Robyn,

    Short-term solutions are not going to cut it. We need to build, build, build denser communities. No more segregation in the name of single-family zoning.

    We need walkable, bikeable communities that are public-transit rich and devoid of automobiles. We need 15-minute cities to spring up everywhere across the bay area.

    Better for everyone’s quality of life, better for the economy and best for the planet.

  10. Was there security and services at the homeless encampment? If not, why expect them at the hotel?

    These articles tend to present only part of the picture. How does this situation compare to other comparable situations? What actions have worked out better? Which have been good cost-performers? Surely some journalist in the Bay Area knows the big picture and can put this into context.

  11. Janet Xhen. We should ratchet down the name calling and actually discuss the issue. You may not have liked HB’s delivery, but what he said is valid. As a San Jose first responder for over 20 years, I can count on one hand the number of homeless people I have ran calls on (out of thousands) who were simply down on their luck with no other mitigation circumstances. Those circumstances being substance abuse and mental health. So simply building housing won’t work if the majority of homeless genuinely need help. Say you double the housing stock in the Bay Area and that drops the average cost of a home to $400,000. Or the average rent to $1,500. Is the average homeless person going to be able to get themselves off the street? Probably not. Also, these large homeless housing apartments cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and are extremely expensive to maintain. I think it would be a much better solution to take a large area (like off of Coleman near the airport), build a bunch of tiny sheds (like Oakland has done) then require homeless people to seek shelter there. At that facility we provide security, bathroom facilities, mental health and addiction counseling. And we actively work towards getting each individual off of the street. Communities across the state are collectively spending millions of dollars on homelessness and the problem gets worse every year. Simply building more housing is clearly not working.

  12. “When we plan out our budget, we do not expect to provide services for these homeless people.”
    /Welcome to the party, pal!

  13. To EW,

    Name-calling? Did you read what they said? It’s like a collection of racist Trumpites all suddenly showed up in Sunnyvale.

    Why don’t we build, build, build first and then we can talk about whether homelessness decreases or not. You are talking as if California has been a shining example to the rest of the country on how home building is done. We need to abolish single-family zoning and let the market lose for like the next decade because that is what it is going to take.

    Not having stable shelter is where everything starts. What you see out there is the outcome of us not doing our part as a society. The utter selfishness of I’ve got mine, screw the rest is why housing is so expensive to even pencil out.

    If we want our state, our economy and our planet to survive and thrive, we need to build dense, we need to build now.

    Homelessness is just a symptom of rampant NIMBYism. Housing is a place for shelter and raising families. It is not an investment. It should have never been allowed to be an investment.

  14. 3D printed homes is the only way to build homes that everyone can afford and it’s better for the environment, it cost less, can withstand earthquakes flooding and pretty much any natural disaster. Get with the times you old folks. People don’t need 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 room homes especially when it’s just 1 or 2 people living in it. No one needs a mansion that they never are even home anyway. Get real people. 3D PRINTED HOMES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO END HOMELESSNESS AND WILL MAKE HOUSING AFFORDABLE FOR EVERYONE NOT JUST THE RICH AND DUMB. THERE IS A LOT OF LAND THAT CAN BE USED TO START BUILDING 3D HOMES

  15. Poor guy…the lockdowns caused a lot of problems as a domino effect. The lady saying the hotel accommodations are insufficient after living homeless in a park seems ironic, tho.

  16. The Buydung administration has started locking up migrant kids in shipping containers. Now Buydung and Nuisance are inviting in millions of homeless illegals’ to flood the streets while we don’t even have room for the people that live here. HOW SICK ARE THESE PEOPLE THAT RUN THIS COUNTRY.
    Why do you stupid ass people keep voting for them? No wonder they want to lock us down and shut us up!

  17. Nicole,
    Your next home will be a shipping container heading back to your ancestral home country, ASAP!

  18. “A housing crunch has helped push prices up beyond reach for many people …”

    And what caused the housing crunch? “Thin-skinned neighbors”?

    The open border and the sanctuary cities in California encourage people to come here with their hand out, and many in this ultra-liberal State are all too happy to spend other people’s money to support them. And then birthright citizenship encourages them, while on assistance programs, to have children who are automatically citizens and bring in other extended-family members. Have none of the do-gooders heard of the “law of supply and demand”? The more people there are here competing for goods and services (housing, gas, power, food, roads, etc.), the higher those prices go.

  19. > Janet then > “It’s like a collection of racist Trumpites all suddenly showed up in Sunnyvale.”

    Really? Trump is that far into your psyche that you continue to blame everything on him and the more than 70M people that voted for him?? You really need to get over your abusive father and quit blaming all your miseries on President Trump.

    You obviously voted for biden….how’s that working out….C’Mon Man……

  20. Janet Xhen, EW’s (first responder) comments are supported by fact. Former SJPD chief Garcia claimed that every call to formally homeless housing at SJ’s Donner Lofts (remember the shooting?) requires 3 cops for each call v. traditional 1. Former SJ Homeless head Ray Bramson described in vivid detail issues when SJ attempted to house “critical homeless”. 18 months after program started less than 50% were occupied. Neighbors complained of sanitary conditions, apartments suffered significant damage, appliance & metals theft, drug, and prostitution problems among others.

    The City had no criteria, nor triage as to what would make a difference. Another: only about 15% complete the Downtown Streets rehab program to teach job training and independent living skills. Contrast that with Salvation Army’s > 90%.

    Not exactly an equal comparison. Salvation Army evicts those that repeatedly fail to follow the program – that tends to inflate their success rate.

    A tough love screening/ triage program is desperately needed. It’s been a much more effective response than our current one.

    Reinstating work farms too. The Elmwood jail was originally SCC’s poor farm. Some were beyond help. Wet brain/fried brain from alcohol or drug use, some could be transitioned to assisted living, some needed permanent care.

    Additional housing may be warranted, but a prudent response is to fix what’s broken first. Facts matter.

  21. So instead of solving the problem of literally not building any housing, these folks keep deflecting the blame on to the immigrants, on to everyone but their NIMBYism all the while mooching off the young and the poor. It’s about time we get rid of prop 13 subsidies and replace that with a land value tax. That is the only way to save our economy and our planet.

    I don’t want to wish ill on anyone but I don’t get what these people think. It’s as if they and their future generation will never be in the situation the homeless people find themselves in today. What these folks don’t realize is that it is almost a certainty with this mindset.

    This country blundered big by making housing into an asset class. It is time to reverse that.

  22. And to RIP, you should RIP.

    It’s not Trump or Biden. It is about our future, our economy and our planet.

    Without immigration, this country is demographically toast. Enjoy your NIMBYism while it lasts.

  23. Couldn’t agree more HB.
    Sorry Janet. But don’t worry I’m not a dreaded NIMBY. More of a DWADBION (Don’t Want Any DeadBeats In Our Neighborhood)

  24. Most young people move out of high occupancy housing when they start a family. Probably because that kind of living is not very conducive to family life. If your baby is screaming at 2:00 AM and all your neighbors are complaining because they share a wall with you, what are you going to do? Go to the common area? People want single FAMILY homes. Plus Biking communities are stupidly dangerous, and what is “NIMBYism” any way?

  25. To: Janet X:

    I never mentioned immigrants, nor did anyone else — stop your class and race baiting. Most of the homeless I see in SC County are white men. And most are drug addicts, mentally ill or engage in antisocial behaviors (means criminals). And, all of the studies support that.

    “It is estimated that 20–25% of homeless people, compared with 6% of the non-homeless, have severe mental illness. Others estimate that up to one-third of the homeless suffer from mental illness.”

    “Although obtaining an accurate, recent count is difficult, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2003) estimates, 38% of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26% abused other drugs.

    By anyone’s math, (other than Marxists) over half are drug addicts, alcoholics, or suffer from SEVERE mental illness. And we haven’t even counted the anti-socials.


    Perhaps you would be more comfortable living somewhere that would more align with your values. Perhaps North Korea would be attractive to you. They have no poverty, no homeless, no wealth inequities, free everything — seems a perfect fit for you.

    One more thing: Suggest that you try the decaf.

  26. Janet X:

    One more thing: Do you kiss your mother or children with that filthy mouth of yours? Suggest that you get them a rabies shot if you do.

  27. To HB,

    Learn to read. Here is an excerpt from your fellow neighbor. How nice. And you nice too.

    “The open border and the sanctuary cities in California encourage people to come here with their hand out, and many in this ultra-liberal State are all too happy to spend other people’s money to support them.”

    And the economist that you are, how about we let the free markets work. Let housing supply come in to meet the demand and stop with dictating your NIMBY way of life on everyone else, like the dictator in North Korea does.

    See how capitalism works. Or at least how it is supposed to work. But no. The folks who are getting subsidized through prop 13 and are squatting on land and stopping progress all along are ones doing the dictating.

  28. To RIP: Thanks for reminding us that the loser of the presidential election received votes also. I remember when trump stole the ’16 election the first thing you said, instead of gloating, was for everyone to remember Clinton received a substantial amount of votes also and they’re views should considered also. How you called for unity with political foes for the sake of our country. How you told us our differences should be our strength as Americans. Wait, that’s not right. You actually advised that if we didn’t like it we could leave the country. I offer you the same thoughtful advise now that the shoe is on the other foot.

  29. Hi Janet. I’m as liberal as they come. I’m for a national health care system, a living minimum wage, free college if it’s doable, a rejuvenation of unions and collective bargaining rights, and a much heavier tax on the ultra rich while also closing corporate tax loopholes. I’m also totally down with walkable dense development. But all these things that I want come with a cost. So the discussion needs to be: Are these programs that we want? If so how would they be implemented and at what cost? And how would we actually pay for them?

    I think there are solutions to homelessness out there, but from first hand experience, I can tell you that “build, build, build” simply won’t work. NIMBYism, definitely exists and is often misplaced, but in this situation the NIMBYs are generally right, as much as we don’t want to admit it.

    I also intensely dislike Trump and generally can’t understand support for him. But support for Trump had nothing to do with our homeless situation.

    So calling commenters on here racist Trumper NIMBYs while shouting “build build build” may help with your anger at the homeless situation. It’s not a solution.

  30. Woke = new depths lately, exemplified here. Get woke = become mentally broke.

    It is not any kind of awakening to acquire and use additional mindless sloganeering in addition to the existing lefty repertoire, along with basic hatred and intolerance of others and ideas, especially those that or who are better.

  31. “Are these programs that we want? If so how would they be implemented and at what cost? And how would we actually pay for them?”

    As opposed to woke-ness, i.e., additional pathology, this is an example of maturity.

  32. “And what caused the housing crunch?”

    * Natural amenities, routinely overrated

    * An economy featuring high-paying jobs, despite increasingly diseased liberal policy. That includes not only tech in the South Bay but other industries in the state that are larger than tech (including finance in San Francisco and elsewhere in metro areas, real estate, etc.), plus other industries and businesses of all kinds

    * Large-scale immigration, aided by militants who consider it everyone’s right, in addition to public benefits and citizenship once they arrive. That’s atop a legacy of large-scale domestic in-migration in past decades that is now out-migration and likely will become more net out-migration with time, but could see reversals in the up portion of business cycles

    * International demand for real estate of all kinds, as in other major world cities. This is a new and BIG (and highly resented) phenomenon in select metro areas

    It’s unsurprising. Even before all the problems of today, growth was resented by the later 1960s and growth controls begun in the early 1970s, and housing prices went up greatly in the 1970s and property taxes wrongly based on value, with them, taxing people out of their homes and contributing primarily to a tax revolt. People want to live closer to work if they can, or where it’s nicer, and are willing to pay more to do it.

    South Bay tech and other businesses don’t want to relocate to where people have been relocating, more in the Central Valley now than in the late 1970s and early 1980s when it started. They want colossal transit projects to move commuters to and from job sites in the South Bay. Most would want to live closer if they could and many are willing to pay extra to live close, where it’s also nicer. See above. They even want the failed high-speed rail project now to function as another mass transit system, extending the commuter shed as far as Bakersfield if the boldest (worst) advocates are to be believed.

  33. “Most young people move out of high occupancy housing when they start a family.”

    They’ll move out of state to do it, if that’s what it takes to afford it. Not everyone is in hopeless condition.

    That fact about moving out is neglected by so many cheerleaders of singles or childless couples fulfilling the new fad of Millennial urban living.

    Also neglected is what stuffing so many new residents into multi-unit housing is going to do to demand for single-family detached housing.

  34. Four things to remember before chanting “Build, Baby, Build”:

    1. Many people don’t want San Jose and other center-east valley cities, and beyond, to be the housing and government expenditure site while the west valley and southern Peninsula form the employment and government revenue site. “It’s jobs, not housing.”

    2. What about road and other infrastructure growth to handle resident growth? It would be good to restrict housing and often employment growth to roadway and other improvements being met first, development fees charged for this and spent on this, instead of giving breaks to developers in a place with very high demand.

    2. Be aware of what housing costs to build and what that means for rents or home prices.

    “The total costs for each [affordable housing project] unit, which includes other revenue sources, ranged from $600,000 to more than $800,000. By comparison, he said, private, for-profit developers’ cost is about $400,000 to $500,000 per unit.

    Mayor Sam Liccardo pushed for an ‘apples to apples’ comparison so that city staff studies equitable developments. Vice Mayor Chappie Jones agreed, using an example from his district: A private market-rate housing project that cost just $300,000 per unit.

    The catch? The developer owned the land.”


    4. Up-zoning makes land more desirable to develop and raises its costs, thus housing costs. (Consider all kinds of commercial property flips in past years.)





  35. In addition to the H1-B phenomenon, we have:

    “The open border and the sanctuary cities in California encourage people to come here with their hand out, and many in this ultra-liberal State are all too happy to spend other people’s money to support them.”

    Or are looking for work, or are desperate, or have sent their kids to escape.

    It’s now being stoked with Biden taking office, as all know from the news that with one inadvertent exception has officially been referred to insistently as “challenges” on the border with a surge of immigrants on our doorstep.

    Have a nice, lovely, clear-skies, birds-chirping cheerful kind of day, all, you included, Janet.

  36. Well Janet X, why don’t you go raise the billions of dollars buy the land from those greedy old people you hate. Get the permits clear the land and build the housing then you can move in every deadbeat, homeless, drug addicted, drunk, child molester, from what ever former hell hole they came from. Matter of fact hire those same people for $3.00 an hour to build all that stuff and take the profits from all that rent money you collect and build some more. Why the hell does the tax payer have to do that for you if its so simple?

  37. >JANET XHEN Mar 17, 2021 @ 11:19 pm
    >To Robert Cortese,

    >I don’t ever hope that someday you or your kids are ever in their situation but you know what, I’ll make >an exception.

    Your wish is granted.

    I was homeless twice in my life. 33 years ago for 2 weeks in October, then 32 years ago for 2 months starting in February. It was either be homeless, or lose all my freedoms.

    It was bad. I slept under the Hamilton Av Bridge that spans Los Gatos creek. At one point, I was so hungry I had to eat cold half eaten hamburgers from the Carl’s Jr dumpster. My grandmother took me in, put up with my crap because I was pretty angry and damaged from my parents abuse, and at 24 I got married and moved out.

    24 years later I would repay her kindness by preventing her sons from taking advantage of her dementia condition. In my fathers words, “Your uncle says we can pay $20,000@mo to keep grandma in her house, or we can put her in a home and the insurance covers everything!” If you think the Cortese’s are this great, kind, altruistic family, you have no idea. You’re just seeing the façade they put up. Too bad you can’t see the truth.

    As for myself, my wife and I are still married. I work as a systems administrator. I’m invaluable where I work because I’m well versed in powershell as my github will show you.


    Entitled? No. I had to scratch and claw my way out of my own hangups, anger, and self esteem issues to get to the self worth I have today. I’ve spent countless hours with homeless. For a long time I thought they were “My people” but at some point, maybe after watching the same ones bum for money outside of 7-11 for a decade so they could buy beer I realized, they want to be there. I didn’t. I took the opportunity given to me to treat myself to a better life. To buy a house, pay for 16 years of Catholic school for my 2 kids, to have the kind of love in my household now that I never had growing up.

    So you think I’m entitled? Screw you. I’m don’t feel one bit of pity or shame for what I said. I could barely stand 2 months of being homeless, I can’t fathom spending a decade or more doing it like I’ve seen some do.

    One last thing.. All these so called “Charities” for homeless.. Complete and utter BS. It’s just politicians hooking their friends up with sweet contracts. There’s no reason a garden shed in front of the old City hall had to cost $50,000. For that same price, I could have bought 5 2 bedroom mobile homes in Florida. Each could have housed 2 to 3 people. Each would have had running water, sewer and electric hookups. Each would have given these people more dignity than what we’re giving me here.

    Save me your insulting fake virtue signaling for these people. If you think you can trust them so much, why don’t you let one move in and tell us how it goes?

    You won’t. Because you’re fake. A phony. A charlatan.

  38. Publicly-financed housing on publicly owned land is the affordable way out of the houselessness crisis. One of the best local examples of this is San Jose State University (SJSU) on-campus housing for students, faculty and staff. That housing consists of a three-block area bounded by San Carlos Street, San Salvador Street, 7th Street and 10th Street with a total surface area of 12.68 acres (https://www.sjsu.edu/fdo/docs /sjsu_complete_master_plan_hi-res.pdf).

    The “Campus Village” consists of six publicly-built, publicly-owned and publicly-operated residence structures with the following heights: 3, 7, 8, 10, 12 and 15 stories respectively. The six structures offer a wide range of residential/living arrangements, including efficiencies and apartment units consisting of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, four-bedroom or five-bedroom apartments. These residences can house a total of about 4,200 people with upward flexibility for a couple of hundred more residents if needed (https://www.housing.sjsu.edu/docs/ HousingBrochure_2020.pdf). That’s about 332 people per acre or about 40 times San Jose’s average population-to-land density of 8.5 persons per acre (http://www.usa.com/rank/california-state–population-density–city-rank.htm; https://www.california-demographics.com/cities_by_population).

    In addition to off-street parking, SJSU living spaces and all facilities are accessible to the physically-challenged, conform to all state and local health, safety and environmental regulations and are regularly maintained. All living spaces come furnished (including kitchen appliances) and rental payments include all basic utilities: water, electricity, sewerage, heating and cooling, wi-fi internet access and internet-based TV.

    There is a Resident Activity Center, a common area available to all residents, with pool, ping pong and fussball tables, a piano and meeting rooms that can be used for studying or watching TV. There is also the Village Market located on the ground floor of one building, a convenience shop that stocks and sells groceries, home essentials, health/beauty, basic kitchen items and snacks. The Computer Lab, open to all residents, provides access to computers, software, internet and printers. Each building has a staffed Courtesy Desk, a sort of concierge, to provide safety, security and information 24 hours a day. Public bus and light rail stops are 5-15 minutes away by foot.

    The monthly rental rates—that include housing and all amenities enumerated in the above paragraph—range between $933 and $1,251 per person or an average of about $1,120 per living space. Give or take, plus or minus, this is less than half the direct recurring living expenses someone might pay renting a room in a house or sharing a two- or three-bedroom apartment. This, of course, excludes the gaping disparity between the amenities and conveniences available Campus Village resident that, in general, are not available to renters elsewhere.

    It is the density that creates the affordability: the costs of land and construction are divided among a large number of people, thereby reducing average burdens. The rents paid by students (in this case) go toward cost recovery, maintenance and further expansion of such housing, not toward landlord rents or investor dividends. Really solving the housing affordability and availability crisis, while protecting and preserving open spaces and the environment can only be accomplished with denser social housing communities. Public financing of such housing on public land–outside the orbit of real estate speculation–is the rational, humane and cost-efficient path forward.

    In a city sitting on a land mass of 188 square miles (about 86,500 acres), room can be found to build a SJSU-type village in each of the ten Council districts. That would require about 15 acres of public land and political commitment. Such villages could be strategically located near public transport and amenities and would complement well the district-level libraries and community centers as expressions of government commitment to the general welfare.

    Using SJSU’s 60-year successful experience with campus housing–or for that matter the campus housing on California’s 32 other public universities–provides concrete examples and the general and replicable framework needed. By comparison, the combined impact of Project Roomkey, the city-level initiatives and programs in San Jose and Sunnyvale and other cities and the efforts of HomeFirst Services and Destination:Home, are pathetically trivial.

    Think big. Go big. Go public. Go Spartans!

  39. “If you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    Imagine, Econoclast, how different the world would look to you if you were not among the tens of millions who have fallen for this ancient tactic and have accepted as truth the the endlessly repeated phrase, “we’re in the midst of a housing crisis”.

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