San José City Council OKs New ‘Quick-Build’ Housing, Hotel Conversions 

Publicly supported housing topped the agenda of the San José City Council Tuesday in response to what Mayor Sam Liccardo called “this homelessness crisis.”

The council voted to add 400 new “interim housing” units, approved the purchase of the 89-room Arena Hotel with state Homekey funds and added 561 new affordable housing units.

“The traditional approach to building housing is not fast enough to meet the urgency of this homelessness crisis,” said Liccardo in a statement. “San José is expanding on our success of quick-build interim housing, tackling unsheltered homelessness head on, and embracing nimble, innovative approaches that enable cost-effective and rapid solutions while remaining committed to permanent housing for our most vulnerable residents.”

In 2021, Liccardo set a goal of 1,000 total resident beds in quick-build communities completed, acquired or under development by the end of 2022. San José’s quick-build communities are built in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional apartments, city officials say.

In total, the City will have 561 new additional units of housing built over the next few years.

Housing for 900

With the help of  the quick-build units, San José reports it has already housed nearly 900 unhoused residents, for the first time since 2015 halting the increase in unsheltered homeless in San José and countywide, based on the 2022 countywide point-in-time census.

On June 21, the mayor and city council voted to expand on the success of the city’s first three quick-build communities by approving the development of 400 additional interim housing beds across the city, and moved forward with development on four new quick-build sites across San José that have the potential for another 280 resident beds.

The council approved expansions at:

  • The Guadalupe SJPD Lot E quick-build community – currently under construction – adding up to 20 additional beds to the original  that originally 76 beds for unhoused residents with priority given to those living in Guadalupe River Park and nearby trails
  • The Rue Ferrari quick-build community, adding up to 100 beds to its 118 beds within the site’s existing boundaries in south San Jose

The council approved moving forward development efforts for:

  • A new quick-build community in District 4 directly adjacent to the Dr. Robert Gross percolation ponds on Noble Avenue with room for up to 100 beds
  • A new quick-build community in District 10 on Caltrans-owned land at Great Oaks Boulevard and Highway 85 with room for up to 100 beds

The council approved prioritizing future development efforts after sufficient progress on the four other sites for:

  • A new quick-build community in District 5 at Jackson Avenue and an I-680 offramp with room for up to 50 beds
  • A new quick-build community in District 1 at northwest corner of the Prospect Road overpass of Highway 85 with room for up to 30 beds

Of the 1,000 quick-build interim housing-bed goal, 317 are built, 76 are under construction, and 204 are under development, according to the city.

The city and nonprofit partners such as HomeFirst, PATH, and Abode operate interim housing sites provide 317 emergency interim housing beds at Rue Ferrari, Bernal and Monterey, and Evans Lane. Since 2020, the city reported it has sheltered over 887 individuals at its Bridge Housing Communities (BHC) Mabury and Felipe, and the three Emergency Interim Housing Communities (EIHCs).

Homekey Hotel Conversion

The city council also voted to accept $25.2 million in state funding through Homekey for the purchase and conversion of the 89-room Arena Hotel on the Alameda in San José. Hotel conversions for interim and permanent housing was pioneered by San José in 2016 with the acquisitions of the Plaza Hotel and Casa de Novo prior to the state’s Homekey program. In 2020, the city was awarded $14.5 million in Homekey funding to buy the 76-room SureStay Hotel.

The council also approved $53 million for 448 new affordable apartments of permanent housing across in four individual developments, of which 197 will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for people “exiting homelessness,” including:

  • Tamien Station: 135 affordable apartments for extremely low-income and low-income individuals and families, of which 67 will be permanent supportive housing. Over half of the units will be 2 and 3-bed apartments aimed at housing families.
  • The Charles: 99 total apartments, of which 49 units.
  • 1860 Alum Rock: 60 total apartments, of which 30 units.
  • 777 West San Carlos: 154 total apartments, of which 51 units; including a 3,000 square foot childcare center with 1,875 square feet outdoor play area.

The council also approved additional funding to allow construction to start on the Kelsey Ayer Station affordable housing development in Japantown.

Kelsey Ayer Station will have 113 fully inclusive mixed-ability, mixed-income housing including units intended for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities as well as individuals with a range of incomes in the Japantown/Ayer Station area of downtown San José.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. This is the same thing they said about the Tiny Homes. “Easier to build on city owned land.” Well, that was a disaster. So, I will believe it when I see it with this bunch in San Jose. Super incompetent.

  2. Still NOT tackling the Root Causes – mental illness, drug addiction, and entitlement lifestyle.

    “You CANNOT Build your Way Out of Homelessness,”
    “It was the LA Homeless Authority themselves that said for every 100 that we house,
    they’re replaced by 120 more on the street…
    that math seems to elude these people … our elected officials.””
    – Sheriff Alex Villanueva, (LA Sheriff and law abiding, taxpaying citizen advocate)

    More Fraud & Waste by Govt officials and Grifting ‘Non-Profits’ in pursuit of their
    Profitable ‘Homelessness’ Business Plan has become a Black Hole for Taxpayer Funds.

    We need Public Officials with a Backbone like LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva –
    who do not put up with the Homeless Industrial Complex and Bureaucratic Bull—-…

    “You don’t have a right to negatively impact the community and claim public space as your own”

    “LA Sheriff Slams ‘Homeless Industrial Complex’ Grifters Who Profit Off Crisis –
    ‘They’re raking in money, not by the millions, not by the hundreds of Millions, by the Billions…’ ”

    The ‘Non-Profit’ 501 C-3 organizations – tasked with providing comprehensive health care services to low-income residents categorized as homeless,
    have TOP Level Employees with a total payroll of over $2.8 million earnings –
    ALL Compensated by Public Taxpayers and Private Companies…

    LA spends over $1 BILLION annually on homeless services, while homelessness has only gotten worse.

    Homeless Encampments, Trash, Blight and RVs still line the sidewalks around the project and neighbors are still afraid for their safety.

    These ‘camps’ are inundated with Tents, Trash, Needles, Drugs, and local business owners’ shops continue to be Vandalized.

    “You CANNOT Build your Way Out of Homelessness,”

    Villanueva says his office is going to START ENFORCING the LAW,

    citing California Code 26.600.
    It states the sheriff… “shall preserve peace, and to accomplish this object may sponsor, supervise, or participate in any project of crime prevention, rehabilitation of persons previously convicted of crime, or the suppression of delinquency.”

    “You don’t have a right to negatively impact the community and claim public space as your own,”

  3. With the continuing record breaking Biden-flation and looming Recession, where will the money come to fund these poorly cost-managed programs, the annual sustainment costs to maintain these properties, pay utilities and water, security and upkeep?

    CA may have benefitted from a ‘FED pumped up” stock market, but the future is not that rosy, and
    CA still has the largest Public Pension debt of any state –
    “Report: At $1.5 Trillion, CA Has Nation’s Largest Public Pension Debt Load” (June 2022, CA Center Square).

    Even the LATimes recently reported on the unsustainable cost of these programs,
    “Affordable Housing in California Now Routinely Tops $1 Million per Apartment to Build”
    (LA Times, June 21, 2022)

    “More than half a dozen affordable housing projects in CA are costing more than $1 million per apartment to build, a record-breaking sum that makes it harder to house the growing numbers of low-income Californians who need help paying rent…”
    “In comparison with private sector development, low-income housing is often saddled with more stringent environmental (CEQA) and labor standards (unions want their cut). ”

    All of these over $1 Million dollar so-called “affordable housing” projects are in the Bay Area.

    Roosevelt Park (80 units) in San Jose – over $1,009,707 per apartment.

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