San Jose to Convert Vacant Plaza Hotel into Homeless Shelter

San Jose plans to spend the next six months converting the shuttered Plaza Hotel into a temporary shelter for homeless people.

The City Council on Tuesday will vote on a $1.8 million housing grant to renovate the 49-room downtown inn. Housing nonprofit Abode Services will manage the property under a five-year lease agreement with a planned start date of this fall.

Last September, the council voted 10-1 to to buy the defunct hotel next to the Caravan Lounge and Greyhound bus station, and turn it into apartments for the homeless.

The building sat empty since the city’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) bought it in 2008. The RDA successor agency—which took over the property after the state dissolved RDAs in 2012—sold it to the city's Housing Department in December for $740,000.

But the building needs new floors, paint and bathrooms to make it habitable again. If the council approves the remodeling grant, Abode and the city’s Housing Department will find a contractor to fix the place up in time to move in homeless tenants before the year’s end.

Once Abode takes up the city’s lease, the nonprofit will oversee property management and 24-hour on-site services for tenants. Abode would collect rent, maintain the facility and respond to tenant concerns. It would also coordinate supportive social services and prepare a transition plan for future use of the property once the lease is up.

The $2.5 million cost to flip the Plaza Hotel would be cheaper than building a new apartment complex for the homeless, the city noted. Plus, it revitalizes an abandoned building in the heart of the city, close to public transit and social services.

At a price of about $1,050 a month per unit, the monthly operating costs would amount to $51,450, according to the city. Tenant housing coupons would pick up the tab, but the city says it will continue to look for other resources to cover operational costs.

Homeless people with a city or Santa Clara County housing voucher would qualify for placement at the Plaza Hotel. They must be able to work and eventually become independent.

“Since these individuals are not considered chronically homeless, the goal of the project is for the duration of their tenancy to be relatively brief,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, the city’s housing director. “[That is], until a longer-term or permanent housing option is available, or they become self-sufficient.”

The Plaza Hotel is one of about 100 former redevelopment properties the city is trying to sell off by way of its Successor Agency.

Last fall, Councilman Manh Nguyen voted against the project, citing concerns about placing a large number of homeless people in the thick of downtown. The San Jose Downtown Association echoed his sentiment. Private developers have been eyeing the Greyhound station and nearby properties for redevelopment.

But the city’s five-year plan means the Plaza Hotel could be used for something else in the future. For the time being, however, the city—which claims the fourth-largest homeless population in the nation—has prioritized affordable housing to reduce the number of people living on the streets.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 15, 2016:

  • Code enforcement has curbed illegal dumping by upping the fines for violators, installing cameras and other deterrents in “hot spots” and rolling out a three-language educational campaign. Since January, a crew from GreenTeam has cleaned up 24 tons of junk—250 trash bags and 300 large items such as furniture and mattresses—from problem areas in downtown and the city’s East Side. It has eliminated the 6,500-request backlog for large item pickups. In May, a partnership with San Jose State University’s CommUnversity will host a student “move-out” swap meet to encourage people to recycle old items and properly dispose of the rest.
Source: City of San Jose

Source: City of San Jose

  • San Jose may revise its taxi regulations. Proposed changes include allowing licensed mechanics to inspect vehicles instead of the San Jose Police Department, and allowing passengers to ride in the front seat.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

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


  1. This is another complete waste of taxpayer funds! If you want more pigeons, put out peanuts. If you want more homeless, give out free lodging. You get what you pay for…

    But why not, now that all the pot holes in our streets are fixed? <–(that's sarcasm, just in case it went over someone's head…)

    And now the school Boards have their hands out again, in their perennial begging for taxpayers to go deeper into debt with new bond measures. Do they ever give us a break from their endless money-grubbing?

    A question: Does any elected official represent the taxpayers any more? Name just one, please, who consistently votes against spending, unless it benefits everyone equally.

    But I don’t believe such a creature exists any more. Special interests have brought about their extinction.

    • Smokey is clear you don’t understand the way things work you stated that this is a waste of taxpayer funds? Wrong What is a waste is the huge amounts of money the taxpayers have to spend on having these homeless in emergency stays in the hospitals -as frequent flyers. Its a thousand times cheaper to house the homeless.

      So Smokey before you start “Crying the Taxpayers Game” – educate yourself on the true costs of homelessness.

      • Mark,
        Yes, the argument that housing the homeless is cheaper than not has some justification. See

        But not all homeless – only about 10% per Culhane’s study (i.e., the chronic homeless). They consume the vast majority of EMS and health care costs. From Culhane’s analysis and other independent studies, 1 year “transitional housing” isn’t justified. 80% get back on their feet within a few days and 10% are episodic.

        SJ’s 2015 homeless census counted 4,063. Could we save money by providing housing for approximately 406 chronic ones?

        Doesn’t seem so. SJ created housing for some of St. James park’s chronic homeless. Almost 18 months after the program commenced, less than 50% of the units were occupied.

        Ray Bramson, SJ’s homeless coordinator, explained that keeping chronic homeless domiciled is daunting and often results in eviction. Problems:
        * Feral behavior. Some can’t be acclimated to housing. They continue to sleep outside.
        * Sanitation. Complaints from neighbors about garbage and sewage accumulation, odors, insects, etc.
        * Theft & vandalism. Appliances, toilets, light fixtures, etc. were stolen and likely sold.
        * Prostitution and drug sales.
        * Noise.
        * Safety. Exceeding occupancy limits, lightening fires, etc.

        The chronic homeless are plagued by poor self-care. Simply providing housing doesn’t change that. A “structured living environment” provides better outcomes – think long term Salvation Army-type accommodations. But unless confined, most don’t tolerate it. Despite accusations of “criminalizing the homeless”, confinement seems the most compassionate and cost effective approach for many chronic cases.

        Smokey’s peanuts and pigeons argument is supported by fact. Hawaii’s homeless crises declaration, our disproportionate number, and many more examples (including homeless interviews) support it. San Jose has become a homeless magnet. Our lack of enforcement (e.g.,The Jungle), generous benefits, and climate are contributing factors.

      • Smokey, are you going today to the city council meeting? It starts at 1:30pm. Have you spoken at a city council meeting before? If not, you need to fill out a speaker card and put down that this is the issue you want to speak about. The mayor will call your name and you go up and say your peace for two minutes. No matter what our differences are here, I strongly urge you to go and speak. We need all of our voices to be heard in the chambers no matter which side of this we are on. If you speak for two minutes against the proposal, you will have done your civic duty and honored our democracy.

        • Thanx, JILL. I didn’t realize you were a preacher, too.

          But to answer your questions, some of us have to pay the bills and can’t get to a meeting at 1:30 mid-week.

          And yes, I’ve spoken to the city Council. For what good it ever did. At this stage of the game, the fix is in. What are they gonna do, tell their crony rehab developers that the taxpayers come first?

          I’m not as naive as I was in my younger days. I used to believe that speaking for 2 minutes might make a difference. I used to believe that politicians kept their promises, and that reporters wanted to get to the truth, and that judges couldn’t be bought, and that all cops were honest.

          But after being elected 4 times as my union Local’s president, and being elected to statewide office twice, I’ve gotten treated to an attitude adjustment and a reality check. Now I’m a cynic. But there seems to be no limit…

    • The Plaza Hotel issue is but one of several; vagrant, social miscreant, illegal alien, and criminals who No-one wants to hire Housing programs slated for every District in San Jose under the communist ideology of “Inclusionary housing.”

      The San Jose City Council espouses this communist ideology, concerning the well being and inclusion of the aforementioned element amongst us. San Jose is “Home” to special interest, Non-profit entities who have become; “Non-elected adjunct arms of goevrnment and…political machines, reminiscent of Tammy Hall.

      The current tax-measure the “Comrades” are proposing will fund, in part, communist inspired housing programs.

      Watch-out property owners! The County and the City desires to expand their communist housing funding mechanisms in the form of a “Parcel Tax” on our properties.

      There are disagreements with my position. A Councilmember has said, “David, it is Not Communism. It is Socialism.”

      I say, “A Socialist is nothing more than a Communist, with a self-inflicted ulcerated rectum. Or in other words, a Socialist is a Communist with a very sore butt-hole.”

      San Jose is, “The Capital of Communist Ideology for Silicon Valley.”

      David S. Wall

      • > No-one wants to hire Housing programs slated for every District in San Jose under the communist ideology of “Inclusionary housing.”

        I want to see a map of the locations of all so-called “inclusionary housing” in relationship to the locations of all political fundraisers for candidates for federal and state political offices.

        I suppose I need to spell it out for the political dimwits.

        In California, political fundraisers for candidates for federal and state political offices are held only for Democrats, since California is a one party state.

        So, I could just as well have said “I want to see how big a buffer zone Democrat politicians provide for their rich donors to insulate them from the riff raff.”

        My guess is the buffer zones are very real, very “comfortable” in size, and a clear and obvious manifestation of “rich liberal white skin privilege”.

  2. Smokey, what you should be REALLY mad about is that San Jose continues down its reckless path of implementing the Envision 2040 General Plan (aligns with Plan Bay Area). This plan was led by Mayor Liccardo and after 4 years it was approved by the council. Have you read the plan? It is actually a displacement plan. The latest victim is The Reserve apartment complex off of Winchester in the Winchester Urban Village. The Reserve apartments, courtesy of our city council and Eric Shoennauer (san jose’s residents most feared lobbyist and home wrecker), will be demolished and 216 units will be taken off the rental market until the project of luxury apartments (yes…in the neighborhood of $3500 for a one bedroom) can be built.

    Some say, yes build! We need more apartments! Okay….great…build. But look a little deeper. The city is getting a 2.4 million dollar “voluntary” gift from Greystar Corporation to the city of san jose to help with transportation projects as a part of the agreement to let them demolish and build a new “Reserve”. How lucky for the City. Look a bit deeper and see that Greystar refuses to even pay for a U-Haul to help these people move someone else. And, where are they going to go when they get their eviction notice during the worst housing crisis since 1950 after WWII? I have walked The Reserve and talked to the residents. They don’t know where they are going to go or how they will be able to afford a new place. Some have lived there for over 10 years. Some have kids that go to school at the local elementary school. Some people are in wheelchairs on the first floor and don’t know if they will be able to find another affordable apartment on the first floor anywhere. Some live there because they are right next to a bus stop and they don’t have a car and they need the close access of the bus stop.

    Perhaps you are one of the “they are just renter” types. Well I’ve had it with your type. I’ve been evicted due to the landlord wanting to redevelop. My family was inches away from homelessness. So don’t feed me the “just a renter” crap anymore.

    I’m quite certain that Greystar and The City of San Jose haven’t yet made the connection that every time they bulldoze down a building that is 100% occupied with existing residents, a certain number of people start sleeping in their cars.

    Go ahead a criticize the homeless all you want. But would you please delve deeper into the causes of SOME of the homelessness in our city? I’m tired of all this anti-homeless ranting. Some of the homeless in our city are homeless due directly from our City’s own general plan policies. Hundreds of other cities (LA, SF, NY, Oakland…) have demolition eviction laws and SAN JOSE DOES NOT. If these residents lived in almost any other city, they would get at least $5000 to relocate. (enough for U-Haul, taking a day of work, a deposit on a new place).

    Let me write that again: If Greystar were investing in any other city in the bay area, they would have to assist residents with the move at least financially. In San Jose…they don’t have to DO ANYTHING OR HELP IN ANY WAY (other than give the city a 2.4 million dollar “gift”.)

    Evict, Demolish, and Rebuild more luxury apartments. Greystar wins, San Jose wins, Residents of San Jose lose.

    And Smokey…that is where some of your homeless come from.

    • Jill:

      I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of socialists in San Jose ready to help.

      In fact, if the truth be known, San Jose is probably MAJORITY socialist.

      It’s a puzzle to me why, with so many socialists around, there should be any “housing crisis”.

      Socialists seem to have the inability to provide for their own needs. They always seem to need “non-socialist” hosts.

      Can you explain this?

      • SJOUTSIDE,

        You’ve got JILL pegged. She didn’t mention how deep she digs into her own pocket to help out the homeless, or if she provides an extra room for one of her ‘homeless’. I doubt that she’d give a nickel.

        It’s clear from her rant that JILL just likes to point fingers. She wants other people to pay the freight for her expensive new ideas. Do-gooders are allways like that. My only question was about whether the taxpayer fleecing ever ends. But she ignored that. Instead, she’s trying to make me the bad guy in all this, for the simple reason that I’m fed up, and there’s never any end to the handouts — all at our expense.

        JILL, listen up: I did not create this problem, and by rewarding homlessness the city will attract more homeless. But you have no solutions, other than “Pay up, suckers (taxpayers)”.

        Question for JILL: Where do you draw the line? If the city gives these hotel rooms to homeless folks (and presuming they don’t go to politicians’ cronies), would you agree that this free hotel is enough? That people like you won’t come back next time with a hard luck story, and demand that someone else has to bail them out?

        No? I didn’t think so. Because it’s never enough! In the late 1980’s the poverty level was around 12%. Those people were on what’s called the ‘dole’: they lived on transfer payments provided by taxpayers; welfare, food stamps, Section 8, etc.

        But now, HALF the population is on the dole — and it’s still not enough for folks like you. One-half the population is supporting the other half, via the enormous rise in taxes and the irresponsible printing of money, as if that money never has to be repaid.

        And since you won’t answer my question (just like you avoided my first question), I’ll answer it for you: “It’s never enough!”.

        But I’ll give you a fair chance, one more time: How much is enough? Where do you draw the line, JILL? Is this hotel the end of the subsidizing? Or is it just another step on the path toward Big Brother?

      • Bubble, that’s so funny. You should feel very pleased to know that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, The Bay Area Council, the MTC and ABAG are running the ship of San Jose. And they are serious capitalists (at the same time they want to tax the hell out of all of us). What’s the name for a capitalist that also taxes everyone to fund projects they think are so great? You would be giddy with pride to see all the projects in the works that aim to displace lower-income residents, older people, people with children, etc. The Envision 2040 General Plan has as the main goal to create 1.3 jobs for every 1 San Jose resident. That is about the most capitalist idea I’ve seen in a long time. Out with the poor! They cost money! Get them out! Who needs tow-truck drivers! Who needs cooks! Who needs people to serve my starbucks coffee! San Jose needs high-tech earners here! Build luxury apartments for them and all the rest…get out…go to modesto and drive here everyday to serve our coffee! No housing for you!

        We as a city had no intention of allowing enough housing to be built for capitalists or socialists to live in. It has nothing to do with socialism here and everything to do with increasing revenue for the city to keep San Jose from filing bankruptcy. If anything, our local government is limiting all housing from being built before enough jobs can be created. They are trying to control in every single way, for not having to provide any more social services. You should admire that about the city. Instead you bring up socialism.

        You and I probably agree on a lot bubble. But you are so fixated on tribes, you fail to look into the details. There is a whole lot more going on here than the easy conversation that you always turn to: Kill all the goats! Oh, please…at least read the San Jose 2040 General Plan. If you plan on displacing people while also plan on eliminating housing slowly as more people come into the city, then you have a recipe for a housing crunch. This is actually a planned low-supply and high-demand dream for capitalists. You should know that. These guys should be your heroes.

        I’m advocating for Greystar to properly compensate displaced residents. No, they don’t legally have to in San Jose, it would just be nice. But I guess being “nice” is out of a capitalists reach.

        • > What’s the name for a capitalist that also taxes everyone to fund projects they think are so great?

          That would be a “crony capitalist”.

          See Solyndra. See also, Goldman Sachs and all the other bond dealers who fund campaigns for bond issues so they can collect bond commissions. You know, projects like the “California High Speed Dodo Bird”. Crony capitalism.

          • The Huffington Post adheres to a very narrow agenda. A HuffPo reference is akin to a Pravda citation. Henry George was a capitalist only when using his definition of capital – not the conventional one. Don’t “trust me” – look it up.

            There are many things to appreciate about him. Advocacy of women’s right to vote, civil service (v. patronage), and campaign finance reform are a few. George also advocated some that seem bizarre by contemporary values. He favored separate legislative bodies – Congress would consist of separate male and female bodies, a “single tax” that would affect rich and poor equally like sales tax, and the abolition of intellectual property e.g., patents and copyrights.

            Like Karl Marx, George proposed economic theories during the last of of the 19th century. In that early industrial period, land was the chief means of production. Our world, understanding of economics, and human behavior have changed a lot in the past 177 years.

            Were George alive today, it seems doubtful that land would be at the nexus of his economic theories and proposals.

      • I’m sure there are plenty of private property owners like yourself that are going to hate when your property taxes go up every year because the value of your single-family home has gone up. Why has it gone up? Because the General Plan halts the building of any housing until we get our “jobs/housing” in balance. Another word for making sure the city makes more money before it has to take care of any new people. BUT, you obviously think I’m a socialist when in fact I’m trying to WARN you that the level of housing we have (none) will create a situation where YOUR property taxes will go up as a result. (AND THIS IS PART OF THEIR PLAN!) Since this crowd of commenters think everything bad that happens to everyone else (evictions) is only the evictee’s problem, then I will bring it to your level. It will affect YOU. It will affect YOUR property taxes. YOUR property taxes will go up because the value of your property will go up. IT IS INTENDED TO!!! It will create a situation where the city keeps having to throw your TAX dollars at problems that they themselves created!!!! You are trying to make me the socialist or the bad person here, and I’m trying to tell you that the fix is in and I agree with you on MANY MANY things. We are against stupidity by our city leaders. Can we start there?

    • Jill,
      Some of your points have been corroborated. The Redevelopment Agency was responsible for the destruction of downtown’s low income SRO (single room occupancy) housing AKA flop houses. The Plaza is but one of many. To the best of my knowledge, they were not replaced by comparably priced units.

      There have been some spotty bright spots, but despite millions poured into downtown we have yet to see the overall promised economic benefits. And the poor have shouldered much of the impact.

      The appeal of rent control and move-out benefits is understandable. But the consequences are less well understood:
      * Property neglect and neighborhood blight
      * Tenant coercion (rent-a-thug is very cost-effective to make units available)
      * Constructive eviction (make occupancy unbearable)
      * Bribery
      * Rent increases
      * Increased rental barriers

      $5,000 move-out bounty? Landlords will hike rent and/or hike the security deposit and/or incorporate ‘no move-out’ payment provisions into leases. Like business taxes, the extra cost is ultimately transferred to consumers. Landlords become more selective. In addition to a good credit report, landlords check with previous ones to weed out anyone but model, uncomplaining tenants. The net effect is that affordable rental housing becomes increasingly scarce for those that need it most.

      Incentives work much better. Examples: Property tax offsets and low cost remodeling loans.

      This approach would have been much more cost-effective to keep the Plaza’s 49 rooms open for the past 8 years. Instead it will cost $3.7 million up-front (includes purchase price, lost interest, & rehab cost) and $617,400 annual recurring cost. Then there’s the lost tax revenue for the past 8 years and the next 5.

      It’s another case where Sam Liccardo claims we can’t afford to attract and retain SJPD officers, but eager to squander millions. An added bonus is increasing Housing’s bureaucracy and budget.

      Agree that some homelessness results from evictions and rent hikes. I’m glad your family was able to avoid it. But HUD and other studies show this is short-lived ( < 30 days) for the vast majority that loose their housing by means beyond their control. Mental illness and substance abuse are primary factors in chronic (long term) homelessness.

        • While many of these ideas have been previously mentioned (most notably by FINFAN, perhaps in his proposed sequel to “Soylent Green”), they bear repeating as they have the greatest potential as a “Final Solution” to the homeless problem.

          First, rather than converting a hotel into “temporary” housing for the homeless (there is nothing more permanent than a “temporary” government program) the City should instead use Eminent Domain to seize a piece of property somewhere in Willow Glen, since that is where most of the “compassionate” people live.

          There, a “Solutions Center” should be established for the first phase of the homeless improvement process. At the “Solutions Center” homeless “clients” will be interviewed to determine whether or not there might be family members or other acquaintances who might be willing to forgive the “Client helpee” for past mistreatment, assaultive behaviors and/or molestations of family members and/or friends and neighbors and determine who among this latter group might have sufficient means, compassion and inclination to help.

          Following the anticipated 99.9% failure rate of “clients” processed at the “Solutions Center”, the next step would be to post photos, biographical information (and in small print, criminal records; drug use and mental health histories) online on a sort of “Wino-list” website (similar to Craigslist or e-bay). Here, the truly compassionate can shop through the various “clients” and personally pick out one to adopt, provide employment for, or give a monthly donation toward the care and upkeep of the chosen individual.

          With the likely 99.9% failure rate of the “Solutions Center” and the “wino-website”, the remaining alternative would have to be a Quonset hut village designated “Camp Desperation” (An 80’ X 80’ Quonset hut, with doors, windows and insulation, sells for about $60,000-$70,000; cable TV and wi-fi could be donated or provided at tax payer expense).

          “Camp Desperation” residents will be provided with portable showers, toilets, and food rations. Clients who wish to do so and are not too overweight, lazy or drug dependent to do so, may even choose to grow their own food (marijuana cultivation would still be officially prohibited but the law not strictly enforced). For a nominal fee, members of the “compassion community” would be allowed to visit these inhabitants, feed and groom them and possibly interact with them in a supervised “petting zoo” enclosure.

          This seems to me to be the most practical “Final Solution” to the homeless problem. It will lessen the financial and tax drain on the working public, those people who do the work on behalf of those who won’t do any, and enable the City to use the savings to maintain infrastructure like filling street potholes with asphalt instead of filling homeless “potholes” with public assistance money too often turned into cigarettes, fortified wine and drugs.

          And finally, at the entrance to “Camp Desperation” there should be something that would help preserve their dignity and remind us of all the (real or imagined) contributions that the homeless have made to our society. At the Camp entrance, there should be a monument: “The Tomb of the Unknown Wino”. Here, there would burn an eternal flame, fueled by the constant combustion of illegal drugs, cheap wine, and most importantly, an endless stream of tax dollars. A bronze plaque would honor the memory of all those homeless men and women who died of alcoholism and drug overdoses, particularly those who purchased the latter substances with public assistance money. Next to the plaque, there should be a statue of a disheveled homeless man laying face down in a puddle of his own urine, with an unavoidably noticeable load in the back of his pants, while a somber policeman looks sadly over the unfortunate soul, next to the words “Because We Didn’t Care Enough”

          • JSROBILLARD,

            Your proposal was tongue in cheek, but everything else has been tried, and has failed. The percentage of homeless now is far greater than when the poverty rate was at 12%. So more money has just made the problem worse.

            And now, folks like JILL are at the ‘Say Anything’ stage of argument, bouncing from one free-association thought to the next in a desperate attempt to ignore my repeatedly asked question: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH??

            Hard-bitten working taxpayers are expected to fund this latest neo-redevelopment scheme. Will it be enough for people like JILL?

            Or, will JILL and her fellow Socialists wait the required fifteen microseconds, and then demand that taxpayers fund their next new scheme to save the homeless from themselves? Every handout attracts more pigeons; this one will be no exception.

            I suspect that people like JILL will never be satisfied, at least not until they have confiscated every last dime of taxes possible from the people who produce society’s wealth, and have handed it over to the non-producers — with city bureaucrats taking their usual large slice of the pie before handing out the crumbs.

            Which is it, JILL? Will this latest scheme satisfy you? Or not?

            If not, tell us where you would draw the line. At 60% tax rates? 70%? 90%? Give us your number, JILL.

  3. Which City Council member will be required to live in the converted hotel? Each and every “homeless” handout should mandate that an elected member of Council be entrenched in the result. This will either; 1) Completely stop the insane “help” given to the mentally ill and criminal element or, 2) Ensure the hotel guest problem is solved so Khamis or Nguyen can go back to living in their own home.

  4. I will remind the City Council members as they formulate their voting decisions on the “homeless shelter” that there is now a huge groundswell of popular support for my proposal that ALL publicly funded “homeless housing” MUST be located within 250 feet of the location of a campaign fundraiser for any candidate for federal or state office.

    The Plaza Court Hotel site seems to be far, far removed from any place where Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Barbara Boxer would ever be doing a fundraiser.

    This is NOT who we are. WE can do better.

  5. Perhaps we could name it Cabrini Greens (West) The big name developers and contractor buddies of Slick Sam could make a boat load of cash. By the time it fails with gang members, strung out heroin fiends and prostitutes Sam will have left the building… Just like Reed. This is a great idea combined with a shrinking and vilified law enforcement–Green_Homes

  6. Ms. Jill and Mr. Smokey,

    Here are 3 real suggestions for alleviating the homeless situation.

    1) Mandatory drug testing for everyone before they receive public assistance, money or housing or job training.If they fail the drug test they should be banned for 10 years-life, similar to being on a “no-fly” list. If they can’t stay off drugs, they can’t have public assistance.

    2) If they commit any crime while on public assistance or in public housing, they are banned for life from such public assistance, again, they are placed on a sort of “no-fly” list for public hand-outs.

    3) While they are on public assistance, have them either live near or be bused to an agricultural area such as Gilroy, where they can harvest crops or do other such unskilled labor, for as long as they are on public assistance.

    If these homeless can’t behave and won’t work, they get nothing.

    • JSR,
      There’s merit and ample precedent for the testing proposal. Not often a ten year ban, but consequences nevertheless. See Note the analysis doesn’t address enforcement and outcome. While many PHAs (public housing authorities) impose requirements, they don’t seem to be enforced or uniformly enforced.

      Have the requirements made a difference? This research doesn’t investigate. Chicago has benefitted from tough public housing anti-crime enforcement measures. The entire household is evicted if an occupant is convicted of a felony. Granny is evicted when her household gang banger grandson (previously kicked out of mom’s home) is convicted.

      Harsh? Yes. Neighborhood crime reduction? Significant. Net crime reduction? Doesn’t seem so – baddies migrate elsewhere.

      I’d also add a minimum residency requirement (2-3 years) to qualify and financial responsibility enforcement. It’s troubling to see many senior non-English speaking residents in SJ & County public housing projects. I don’t begrudge this in principle, but the numbers suggest their immigrant relatives are gaming the system by dodging financial responsibility requirements. Prohibit those failing to pay child support too (requirement in several states).

      St. James park and downtown could be vastly more inviting if our existing littering, loitering, stolen property possession (shopping carts, metals theft), camping and public feeding bans were enforced. It’s not a SJPD staffing matter. There was little enforcement when SJPD ranks were full and considered as one of the best PDs in the nation.

      What I’m less confident about are unintended consequences. We passed three-strikes only to see little to no crime reduction due to it, enormous incarceration cost hikes, over-crowding litigation, increasing the bar for felony convictions (Prop 47), and sending state prisoners to county jails and early release (AB 109).

      Separately, feel guilty for still chuckling over your Tomb to Unknown Wino comment.

      • Tough on crime measures like evicting felons or even families of felons from public housing create more crime. The baddies don’t “migrate elsewhere.” Now homeless and unemployed due to their felon status, they are forced to commit more crimes to earn money. Research bears this out-see Michelle Alexander, Frontline, etc.

        • Gwyneth,
          “Now homeless and unemployed due to their felon status, they are forced to commit more crimes to earn money. Research [Michelle Alexander book] bears this out.” Alexander’s locus is US drug policy and disproportionate impact on blacks. In addition to the Frontline piece, read the book , checked some of her citations (Notes section) and some of the abundant criticisms levels at her claims.

          Research supports just the opposite relationship. Contrary to your assertion, Alexander *does* state that evicted public housing residents go elsewhere after denial of public housing (she cites the McCormick study) . The “forced to commit more crimes” assertion is laughable. Perhaps in a Liam Neeson movie, but not in practice.

          She decries as racist the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act (Reagan) and the more draconian “One Strike” legislation proposed by Clinton. Both enjoyed broad support by the Congressional Black Caucus. Alexander cites programs in Kentucky & Ohio as reform models. But 6 years after her book was published, longitudinal studies don’t.

          SCC has significantly more ex-offender programs than most (in bay area & US), yet our recidivism rate remains high. Despite millions on employment referrals, job training, substance abuse, public aid assistance, etc., most SCC ex-offernders reenter the criminal justice system within 5 years. Our black population is minuscule compared to Chicago and other cities cited in her book.

          Note that public housing residents are among the most ardent supporters. They want their victimization to cease. They don’t want to raise children in gang infested communities. Given a choice, wouldn’t most of us?


      You’ve got my vote.

      I also agree with TAXPAYER’s proposals, and observation that illegals are gaming the system. Of course they are. But American citizens do not owe the rest of the world financial, housing, food stamp, or EBT support.

      There should not only be a residency requirement, but no relatives of electeds or city employees/officials should be given any subsidies like free housing. It’s like giving the homeless a choice between housing support, or drugs. Give the city employees a choice: your taxpayer-funded job, or your brother in law’s subsidized housing. Pick one.

      For anyone who thinks that’s heartless, no housing subsidies, no EBT cards, no vouchers, etc., were the normal state of affairs only 40 – 50 years ago, and the folks on the dole were only about 12% of the population. One’s family and friends were the first line of support. That made for a ‘tough love’ kind of charity: I’ll lend someone a helping hand — but I expect them to make some kind of effort, too. But the gov’t gives them our money, expecting nothing in return. No wonder the homeless flock here.

      Even President Clinton put a limit on welfare. But now it’s different; the nameless, faceless city government just shovels our money at the homeless problem, which continues to get worse. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Handing out ever more of our money doesn’t do anything to fix the problem. In fact, it makes the problem worse, by attracting more of the same element to the easy money.

      Finally, I’m still waiting for an answer to my question: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?? Where do we draw the line? Or is the working class expected to pay for these failures ad infinitum?

      JILL says, “How about I answer your ‘enough’ question with a question.” That’s the kind of dissembling I expected.

      • Smokey,
        Thanks for the complement. I should have qualified my response as *some* immigrants – not a blanket condemnation as I suspect your comment didn’t intend either.

        I help a senior low income housing resident from time to time. It’s not far from Santana Row. Both of us are struck by the large number (seems like a majority) of non-English speaking Chinese women residents. San Jose is about 1/3 white, latin, and Vietnamese. I believe our Japanese ancestry residents actually outnumber Chinese.

        The residents don’t reflect our ethnic mix. It might be a fluke, but does seem peculiar.

  7. > in a desperate attempt to ignore my repeatedly asked question: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH??

    Likewise, it did not go unnoticed that Jill declined to answer my question: “With all the socialists around, how come socialists never seem to be able to solve the “homeless” problem?”

    I’m not surprised, though. There is a whole litany of questions that socialists NEVER answer.


    1.What is the correct minimum wage? If a minimum wage of $15 per hour is good, isn’t a minimum wage of $8,926.50 per hour much better? How come you are so stingy and thoughtless as to accept a minimum wage of $15 for the the poor?

    2. Why do socialists always do such a horrific job providing public housing? Stalin was infamous for building miles and miles or drab, wretched, unlivable high rise apartments for “the workers” in the Soviet union, and in spite of the genius of Soviet planning, housing was ALWAYS in severe shortage in Russia. Throughout the cold war, up until the fall of the Berlin wall, finding an apartment in Russia was almost impossible. Multiple families commonly shared apartments.

    China solved its housing problem by building complete “ghost cities” with tens of thousands of unoccupied housing units. No homeless housing problem in China, As long as the homeless want to live in the Gobi desert..

    Detroit, run by Democrat politicians since time immemorial, has thousands of decrepit, abandoned, single family houses. Entire neighborhoods have been condemned and bulldozed.

    The glorious Clinton administration created a vast oversupply of housing and caused a deep, deep recession with it’s utterly stupid Community Reinvestment Act and it’s associated, government subsidized “liar’s loans”.

    Question 3. What is your favorite socialist society? Soviet Union? Nazi Germany? Cuba? Venezuela? Argentina? Greece? China? North Korea?

    The customary Bernie Sanders answer is SWEDEN! We love SWEDEN! SWEDEN is wonderful. Except that Sweden is being overrun with third world, and fourth world immigrants, and the explosion in rape and assault by immigrants in Sweden is making it unsafe to be a woman in Sweden.

    So. back to the customary socialista answers:

    1. [Deer in the headlights stare.]
    2. “Nobody is interested in THAT question.”
    3. ‘I’m not even answering that question’ [Hillary Clinton]

  8. “With all the socialists around, how come socialists never seem to be able to solve the “homeless” problem?”

    First, I think it’s bizarre how you have labeled me a socialist without my ever having said anything about what I am or am not. You defined me as such without any basis. I leave you to speculate though as you seem to have so much fun throwing around labels based on limited knowledge. I will give you examples of how I live and perhaps you could label me again:

    I refused to bring in my “clunker” to get $4000 toward another vehicle even though I qualified and could have used the help. What a rip-off for taxpayers!!! Makes me sick.
    I refused to get a loan with the “aid” of the federal “grants” being handed out at taxpayers expense. I don’t believe taxpayers should fund my mortgage.
    I am angry that all my friends that bought homes that could not afford them (no doc loans) are still in their homes due to a bail out, when I refused to buy a house with a no-doc loan that I knew I could never afford.
    I am sick of hearing about people that are divorced that say they would “do anything for their children”…anything? How about staying together so the city would have more housing supply and your kids wouldn’t be train wrecks!
    I am furious at the TARP bail out and am disgusted by those that say it “helped” America.
    I am in a constant battle trying to find a fiscal conservative that’s not a total A____.
    I am in a constant battle to find a democrat that isn’t a republican anyway.
    I am just as sick as the next person of trying to keep up with every tax thrown my way!!!

    BUT…I MORE SICK of unchecked GREED!!!!! And greed has no party affiliation!!!! That doesn’t make me a socialist or a capitalist or a communist or any anything else! IT means I’m sick of GREED. How can you not hear that!

    How about I answer your “enough” question with a question. With all the capitalists around and all the incredible wealth in this area, how come our homeless problem is one of the worst in the nation? Any ideas? There is an inextricable link between Progress and Poverty. It is a fact. When there is great progress, along with it comes poverty. I am simply advocating for paying attention to the decisions made by cities that exacerbate the problem!

    By the way Ayn Rand (your tribal leader I’m guessing) had a lot in common with Henry George (my land tax genius, but you don’t have time to read about his ideas). You and I have a lot more in common than you think.

    Can we be friends?

    • > BUT…I MORE SICK of unchecked GREED!!!!! And greed has no party affiliation!!!! That doesn’t make me a socialist or a capitalist or a communist or any anything else! IT means I’m sick of GREED.

      What do you mean by “GREED”?

      I believe that “GREED” does have a party affiliation.

      I believe that true free market capitalists are motivated by SELF INTEREST, and self interest is NOT the same thing as “GREED”.

      But, I believe that “tribalists” are often motivated by GREED as you define it.

      Tribalists live their lives as foragers. When they have a consumption urge, they go into the forest to satisfy that urge. They kill something and eat. The next time they’re hungry, they repeat. They repeat until there is nothing left for them to forage, and they move to a different forest.

      The economic significance of foraging is that the ONLY COST of foraging is the forager’s time and energy.

      If a forager finds a possum, he will kill it and eat it. If a forager finds a herd of endangered woolly mammoths, he will kill them all, and eat what he can. A forager has no concept of “relative value” or “cost” in any context beyond personal effort.

      Foraging is a primitive behavior, but we have seen it’s wastefulness in the modern era:

      1. Buffalo Bill slaughtered bison to the point of extinction, because they were there.
      2. The notorious Ivory Queen of China was recently arrested for slaughtering thousands of African elephants, because there was no cost to her.
      3. The whaling industry harvested whales to the point of extinction because whales were an abundant “free good”.

      I call this kind of unconstrained wastefulness for selfish benefit GREED.

      In contrast, when humans invented herding and agriculture, they at the same time effectively created “double entry bookkeeping”. Herders and farmers created excess production, which they traded. And successful trading requires a notion of both the value of the goods they are receiving and the cost of the goods they are providing.

      When a trader is successful at increasing his wealth, he does so by careful and attentive understanding the cost and value of his transactions, I DON’T call that GREED, I call that self interest. The trader who increases his wealth does NOT NECESSARILY diminish the wealth of anyone else.

      When you argue for the government to intervene in the housing market, and force housing capitalists to offer their properties at lower prices, and enable housing consumers to acquire their housing at less than full market cost, you are fostering the “GREED” of the housing foragers by enabling them to consume more housing than they can afford.

      To me, this is Bernie Sanders socialism.

      You’re just encouraging Buffalo Bill to shoot more bison that he didn’t raise.

  9. People seem to forget that the homeless crisis was created, in part, by the closing of mental institutions across America. This hotel conversion will not address that population. The mentally ill will remain on the streets, living on our residential neighborhood sidewalks. Allowing mental patients to “come and go” will not help their problems, as they are unaware of their own illness. Drug and alcohol addicts have no place in this plan, either, although they, too, live in our parks, on sidewalks, and commit petty crimes. They should not be allowed to “come and go” either, and panhandle at the Caravan or 7-11s. Unfortunately, San Jose is extremely short-sighted with this plan.

    • Excellent analysis, Gal!

      I understand that the biggest part of the “homeless” population is the mentally ill. And the question to ask is: “how was the problem addressed before there was a problem, i.e. before they were pushed out on the streets”?

      I’m coming around to the view that, instead of trying to construct fake “free range” living options for the mentally ill and drug addicted, we address the social/political issue head on and formally declare them to be “wards of the state”.

      That way, we have a legal and accountable basis for directly addressing their “care needs” in the most efficient, effective, and least disruptive to everyone else way.

    • CITY GAL,

      To add a little background info to your comment about how the homless problem became a real crisis: President Jimmy Carter had been pestering Cuba about their ‘human rights’ record. Seizing the opportunity, in 1980 Fidel Castro suddenly and unexpectedly sent more than 100,000 Cuban emigrants from Mariel harbor to Florida.

      Castro openly took Carter up on his preaching, so what could Carter do? He allowed them in, in what’s become known as the ‘Mariel Boatlift’.

      It wasn’t understood until later what Castro had done. He had emptied out his mental wards and prisons, sending the dregs of society to the U.S. It didn’t take long for the Cuban-American community in Florida to refer to them as ‘Marielitos’; their term for violent and crazy undesirables.

      That example has not been lost on the Mexicans, the Venezuelans, and Central American countries, either. All of them are doing the same thing now, to varying degrees. They are getting rid of their problems by sending their mentally ill and their violent criminals to the U.S.

      Mexico and Venezuela in particular have been actively encouraging the current tsunami of illegals into the U.S. The result is sadly predictable. Katherine Steinle, a young mother, was murdered in San Francisco last year by an illegal who claimed he just ‘found’ a handgun on a bench, and began shooting at sea lions. He shot Ms. Steinle in the back. He had been deported five times previously, but he bragged that he always just walked back in. The Border Patrol has been ordered to stand down.

      The only difference between Carter and Obama is that Carter was naive and credulous, while Obama is deliberately partnering in this problem. I suppose Obama is the only one who really knows why he’s doing it; all we can do is speculate. But it sure looks like this president is deliberatly causing major social unrest. Why? Good question, no?

      San Jose compounds the problem by making it more attractive to the homeless element than neighboring cities. Why do that? It costs too much, it adds to the problem, and it creates another bureaucracy.


      • Smokey,
        124 ‘catch and release’ illegals committed 135 homicides measured from 2010-2015. “Two of the immigrants in question had even been convicted of homicide before, but they were released anyway and went on to rack up new murder charges again, the report said. The others had amassed 464 total criminal charges, ranging from drugs to drunken driving, before they landed on the homicide list.”


      • > But it sure looks like this president is deliberatly causing major social unrest. Why? Good question, no?

        An answer that is often offered up to your “why” question is the so-called “Cloward -Piven Strategy”:

        It may not be well known among those who have their noses chronically pointed at their “establishment media” devices or publications, or their “progressive” blogs.

        The “Cloward-Piven” strategy likely matches the criteria that well-trained media consumers know as a “conspiracy theory”, but the dominant media have been known to label things that are actually true as “conspiracy theories”.

  10. Jill:

    Here’s a little something for your “GREED” file:

    Another solar power flop:

    “Ivanpah, which got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, . . .”

    Imagine that! $1.6 BILLION dollars of taxpayers money in the back pocket of someone’s designer jeans.

    Not my jeans.

    Not your jeans.

    But probably the jeans worn by some crony capitalist who likely made campaign contributions to Democrat politicians. Remember. This is one-party California.

  11. Yep. Rate payers will be charged $19 a kilowatt hour, instead of the usual 25¢/kWh.

    Someone’s gotta pay the damages, right?

    Click on my name for more info. Look for the Ivanpah article.

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