Homeless Get Motel, Hotel Stays under Liccardo’s Proposal

San Jose’s homeless residents could soon have the option of using their housing vouchers to stay in hotels and motels.

Councilman Sam Liccardo broached the idea, which was up for discussion on Tuesday’s City Council agenda before getting deferred to next week.

If passed, the ordinance would create a master-lease program that allows homeless people with rental vouchers to spend their subsidies at motels until they find market-rate housing. It would task housing help nonprofits with monitoring the program and ensure that motel owners are compensated for opening up their business to the program.

Right now, the city says 97 people in San Jose have a housing voucher but have yet to find a unit because of the competitive rental market.

San Jose has become a case study for income inequality, having become home to the largest unsheltered population of any major city in the U.S. A December 2013 point-in-time homeless census counted 4,770 people living on the streets—a 16 percent increase from two years prior. Of that number, 77 percent lived in riverbeds, sidewalks, cars or streets.

The remainder lived in encampments, which exhibit a unique set of demographics from the broader homeless population. People in the encampments tend to be older, have been homeless for longer and overwhelmingly say they would accept stable housing if they could.

Other counts have put the total number of homeless in Santa Clara County at 26,000-plus per year, with some people moving in and out of shelter and others remaining houseless for years.

Liccardo hopes giving the homeless a place to stay will displace some of the prostitution that takes place at motels along Monterey Highway and North First Street.

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

  • San Jose wants to earn a federal designation as a manufacturing community so it can apply for future grant money through a presidential initiative to promote the industry. In his 2014 fiscal year budget, President Obama announced the first phase of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, an effort to accelerate the resurgence of domestic manufacturing. City leaders hope that San Jose, as a part of the global tech hub that is Silicon Valley, has a good shot at earning the designation.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.7611

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. For most San Jose residents the blob of San Jose “along North First Street and Monterey Highway” is downtown San Jose. The article above references an article, interestingly enough copied to Liccardo’s web site, that claims that the homeless motel idea will help the prostitution problem.

    This part of the article caught my attention:

    But not everyone is buying into the idea. One man whose family has a restaurant near some of the motels is afraid it might drag the neighborhood down even more.

    “If you basically have like a skid row, if you will – for a restaurant, that’s like the worst thing that could happen to us and the neighborhood as well,” said Anand Shah.


    I think Mr. Shah makes a lot of sense. I think if Liccardo wants to be mayor, he’d better start thinking more than one move ahead, because the second move in this game will be to figure how to clean up the “skid row” created by the first move.

  2. Why is the city always wanting to dump problems to other areas outside of the downtown? Sure we are not going to put homeless in the Fairmont. But for years prostitution has always been a problem on the Alameda, Monterey Hwy, North First St, etc. Sam just wants to move the problem out of his district instead of solving the problem. Great move mayor want to be. Lets come up with some real ideas! Sam your district is sad, I would never bring my family to downtown, for fear of being assaulted. Sam wants to put homeless in the very same motels where the problem exists.

    • Sam I have one more question to you. Why is your election committee sending election mail flyers to residents of Monte Sereno how cannot vote in a san Jose election?

      • Is it because Monte Sereno has no flop houses? Heck if you live in Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Los Altos, Mt. View, Palo Alto and anywhere else but San Jose, you’re all for Liccardo’s plan. San Jose, bless its heart, will take ownership of the homeless problem so that Santa Clara, for instance, can concentrate on the bigger issues. Like where to find parking for its football games.

        Seriously, why does San Jose have to own the entire problem. Do homeless really find their way to San Jose, or do other municipalities in the region show them the way?

        • Might it be because Monte Sereno is in litigation over its failed housing policies and refuses to provide affordable or multifamily housing. Of Course Monte Sereno wants to dump its housing problems on any city so the rich can have their own playground – nice and neat and keep all the “others” out of their town.

          • Seems your missing the simple question, why send a mailer to someone who cannot vote for you. Do you not have the addresses for the rest of san Jose voters. Maybe drop off some flyers at the motels. Do you not remember the number of registered voters in SJ compared to the number of people living in the city And yes, Monte Sereno like everywhere else has to offer affordable housing. PATHETIC!

          • I think you are missing the point, Who cares about a silly flyer when there is a real issue of housing crisis, lack of affordability and lack of accountability. Flyer be darned, Focus on the core issue of affordability for the non-elite’s. You must be the 1% and thee sad part is all you give a hoot about is a flyer. That’s PATHETIC !

  3. One motel, EZ-8 (two locations on First) , is primarily responsible for drug and prostitution activity. Pull their business license and the problem goes away. The City could enact other measures such as requiring photo ID, credit card only, and refunds by check only – similar to metal recycling centers to curtail drug and prostitution impacts.

    Motels are our new “affordable housing” for many. Liccardo’s looney idea would simply displace students, low-income, SSI, and blue-collar temporary workers with homeless. Or raise prices for a population least able to afford it.

    Homeless are put up at the EZ-8 near Katrina from time to time. The adjacent McDonalds removed TVs and plugged outlets to discourage power poaching, but the homeless still loiter and beg in parking lot and at Brokaw-First intersection.

    If housing were the solution, our homeless problem would have been solved years ago, but Liccardo finds facts uncomfortable.

  4. As I walked along East Santa Clara Street today, I passed a homeless and helpless woman who was curled up in storefront doorway near 10th Street. I don’t think she’s moved for days. I walk that stretch of East Santa Clara Street frequently and each time it makes me stop and think. How can we as a community collectively let people lay in squalor, filthy and on the ground surrounded by pigeon droppings? Today really got to me. This woman is clearly mentally ill. Most of the homeless folks along East Santa Clara Street fall into the same category. As a long time resident, my observation is that the situation on East Santa Clara Street is worse than ever.

    I’d really like to see more focus on the mentally ill homeless. Are there direct outreach efforts in the field? The woman I cite is not likely to figure out where to go or who to seek for help. Someone will need to go to her.

    Along the same lines, where is the community policing? Someone at SJPD needs to recognize the value of at least occasionally getting some foot or bike patrols into some of these problem areas.

    The situation on East Santa Clara Street, east of City Hall, is not good. It is not good for the mentally ill homeless, and it is not good for any of the folks trying to run a storefront business along that stretch.

    If there is anyone who can help contribute to a solution, please get out there. WALK the street and do it several times over a couple weeks. See for yourself, and rally the resources to help.

  5. Thanks YYY for your concern and compassion. Call 911 or homeless outreach at 408-510-7600 if non-emergency.

    And Cindy Chavez office too. Paul Murphy (408) 299-5028 on her staff handles Valley Med issues. The County was criticized over poor use of Prop 63 (mental health) money. Your observation supports the state audit findings.

  6. May God Almighty bless the city of San Jose,California and all of its citizens with peace,love,prosperity for many years to come. Amen. People instead of talking publicly about the issue,pray to the Divine Source of life and ask for his blessings and success upon your city and the people who live and wander in the city of San Jose. We are all ONE family under ONE big roof,lets all live in love. Have a great year San Jose a year of blessings and good news for years to come. Amen,and Amen. Bless Up. One People. One World. One Love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *