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.