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.
- The city’s still searching for a fire chief.
- An advertising agreement with Clear Channel and the Mineta San Jose International Airport will bring in $5.7 million in revenue for the city between 2017 and 2020.
- Public safety first. That’s the gist of Mayor Chuck Reed’s final budget message before her terms out at the year’s end. We wrote about this last week, but it’s up for the first public discussion on Tuesday.
- Caring for trees on public property will cost the city $1.5 million over the next couple years.
- Councilwoman Madison Nguyen’s proposal to revamp the city’s paid parental leave policy has finally landed on the council agenda.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.7611