San Jose’s Asks Churches, Faith Groups to House Homeless Vets

Of the 700 homeless military veterans in San Jose, about a third have a housing voucher and nowhere to use it. City officials have asked 250 local churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious congregations to each commit to housing at least one.

Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled the “Housing One Hero” campaign earlier this week. The idea is to task each church and religious group to find a home for the veteran under their watch. They could do that by finding a willing landlord, designating church property as veteran housing or finding someone in the congregation with a spare room to rent.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that nobody who faithfully served our country has to live without a roof over their heads,” Liccardo said in a statement. “By leveraging the passion and inspiration of our local faith organizations, we can make great strides in our drive to end veteran homelessness in our community.”

Some 15 faith-based groups have joined the effort, including GateWay City Church, Evergreen Valley Church, Cathedral of Faith, and Jubilee.

“Churches and faith-based organizations can play a crucial part in ending veteran homelessness,” said David Cannistraci, lead pastor of Gateway City Church. “There are 260 homeless vets right here in our community who already have a federally-subsidized housing voucher but can’t find a landlord willing to rent to them. If the faith-based community steps up, we can house each and every one of them.”

While the main goal is to find housing, the campaign also asks local religious groups to help with other needs, such as furnishing apartments, conducting outreach and otherwise inviting the person into their congregation.

Housing One Hero is part of a regional initiative called “All the Way Home,” which is being led by Destination: Home, Mayor Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese. The goal is to house all 700-plus unsheltered veterans in the region by 2018.

“The faith community is critical to our community's work in ending veteran homelessness,” said Jennifer Loving, executive director of Destination: Home. “They not only can help house a veteran, but can provide the community and emotional support. A house is four walls and a roof, but a home is so much more, and our faith partners can help us make sure all veterans have a home."


  1. It this an April 1 joke? It would be amusing if not for the human tragedy. Liccardo’s “plan” to house all by 2018 (details conveniently MIA) carries as much credibility as previous “10 year plans to eliminate homelessness” periodically reissued over the past 30 years.

    CT, VA, and 27 cities and counties claim to have eliminated vet homelessness. NYC claims to have eliminated “chronic” vet homelessness. List at Several others (Salt Lake City & state of UT) have claimed too, but don’t appear on list. SJ’s response is starting 6 years after federal funds became available for homeless vets and others have claimed victory.

    Unlike others that claim success, Liccardo believes that religious institutions can magically transform transform homeless vets. Missing are the practical aspects. Homeless vets have a much higher rates of PTSD, substance abuse, and other chronic conditions. They need professional help – not well meaning church ladies. None eliminated vet homelessness by relying on the church lady model.

  2. Why isn’t Mr. Liccardo also asking SVLG companies to step forward and house a veteran? Companies with cafeterias and gyms staffed with full time professionals are much better equipped than most churches that must rely on volunteers. If Google is willing to let an employee and his wife live two years in an RV parked in their parking lot (, there should be no problem doing the same for a veteran.

  3. > San Jose wants to provide shelter to its 700 homeless veterans through a new campaign called Housing One Hero.

    A really, really lame solution.

    I’ve said before, “It’s not a real estate problem”.

    If you define the problem wrong, you will apply the wrong solution.

    It has been said many times, the biggest element in the “homeless problem” is mental illness.

    The severely mentally ill, who are incapable of functioning independently and without disrupting other people’s lives, should be declared “wards of the state” and put in appropriate, supervised, and adequately funding institutions. And all likelihood “adequate funding” would constitute a huge saving on all the Rube Goldberg schemes to chase “homeless people” all over the landscape with meals on wheels and mobile bum washers.

    • Agree. This plan is predicated on all vets wanting to be sheltered. Many of the chronic homeless do not want to be bothered, but they sure bother our communities with cursing, urination, defecation, panhandling, and trash. Even church ladies will have difficulty with an alcoholic, drug addicted, mentally ill vet. Not saying all are, but many people left on the street are, and have been approached by programs many times already.

  4. I agree and disagree, I think VASH-HUD is a good program. Each Veteran that is supplied housing also has a case worker (not just a section 8 admin) that helps in the process of getting Vets back into society as best they can. Not all the homeless vets are mentally ill either or completely shelterless, just homeless. Perfect, no. But it is better to be in a house and have a support structure then on the street.

    But I agree this is not a real estate problem, well not in all cases. It is a support issue. If it was just section 8 vouchers and no support, there is a high degree of risk for landlords or public housing admins to take on such a task. As far a mentally ill homeless, Abode does a similar service (non VA specific and not funded by HUD) and has case workers and more support for the homeless person than just section 8. They specifically handle mentally ill homeless. They work with landlords (sign leases and pay the rent) to get people housed. Again, not perfect, but they are taking people off the street, which is a big step for them, residents and businesses in San Jose.

    As far as SJ being behind or 6 years late. that maybe true, but I don’t see that as a reason not to do something.

    • Paul,
      Thank you for the observations. Agree that VASH-HUD appears to be a good program. I have no implementation knowledge to form a fact-based opinion of it.

      My understanding is that Liccardo’s church housing aspect does not comply with VASH-HUD or the underlying requirements contained in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and HEARTH. The other program aspects are lip service cheerleading – not substantive actions. See I’m unaware that any homeless housing, motel conversions, announced housing for 175 displaced Jungle residents, or the soon to be renovated Plaza Hotel prioritize homeless vets – chronic or otherwise. Other locales did and the results speak for themselves.

      While not all just need permanent affordable housing, most need long term support (source: 100,000 Homes (2013) & VA study). SCC’s homeless survey identifies 314 (46%) of our vets as being “chronically homeless” and by implication, require long term support.

      Unlike for example the Bill Wilson center for homeless youth, I find no Community Care Licensing registration for Adobe. California Code of Regulations, Title 22 is clear. The types of services provided for the vast majority of chronic homeless requires licensing. There’s been a sad legacy of such unregulated homeless services in San Jose. Apparently, the City of San Jose doesn’t care.

      • “There are 260 homeless vets right here in our community who already have a federally-subsidized housing voucher but can’t find a landlord willing to rent to them. If the faith-based community steps up, we can house each and every one of them.” – David Cannistraci

        I can not say for sure, but I heard this same voucher statistic at a meeting the Housing Authority late last year. While I shouldn’t, I assume VASH-HUD is the program that has the vouchers this quote is referring to. Even though Mr. Cannistraci could have left the landlord zing out, if you are a landlord, and you have a vacancy, there are Vets with vouchers that need a place to live. They will have at least one year of social worker support.

        Regarding Abode, I have no implementation experience, but have talked to them in the past. I also meet with a property manager who had a long relationship with them and she highly recommended in comparison with Section 8. I do not know if they have a Community Care License, an interesting question to ask the city council as they are engaged in the Plaza Hotel and Santa Clara Inn projects to address homelessness.

        • SCC’s Housing authority states that the Section 8 backlog is so massive that waiting lists have been closed for quite some time. Please note that Section 8 includes many sources other than VASH-HUD. See – unclear how many of the 260 receive VASH-HUD.

          Omitted in the 260 homeless vets claim are how many are also included in the 314 count of chronically homeless vets (46% of our homeless vets). Or how many family members that don’t want them in their households (as has been frequently reported) or how many were evicted from public housing, rehab, or structured living environments due to behavioral issues.

          Like you, I believe our approach has been and remains deplorable. Meanwhile other communities have demonstrated significant progress while we fund successive feckless programs led by those with 6 figure salaries and no accountability.

          One could conclude their motivation is to perpetuate the problem, not to remedy it.

    • > But it is better to be in a house and have a support structure then on the street.

      Instead of saying “support structure”, why not just say “family”.

      Oh, that might call into question decades of progressive social policy intended to undermine and destroy “traditional families”, and lead people to start actually thinking about who got us here, how, and why.

      • I agree, everyone would be better off if we all had a tradition family as a support structure. In my opinion progressive social policy has a lot to answer for in the deterioration of stable two parent family structures. However, as a small business person and a resident in a neighborhood that has a lot of homeless people, I would much rather homeless people hanging out on a couch in their home then living (eating, urinating, defecating) in parking lots, “jungles”, and parks. As far as Homeless Vets go, I think we do owe anyone that has served in a war, regardless of if you agree with the war, a place to live if they can not get one for themselves.

  5. What a shame we can spend 700 billion on death/wars, but we have to ask churches to house the homeless vets, who gave their service. if anything all leaders who voted on waste, war, water, whatever!! need to be lined up and shot. very hard to believe, the elected cannot figure out how to shave a few billion off wasteful defense spending and feed and house and teach all the homeless, veterans, prisoners, and give them a chance again. stop prisons for profit, stop the war machine, and use the tax dollar to help america, not kill kids, create isil, keep funding Israel, etc, etc. grow up america, same thing happens at city hall, and your local water district who just ripped you off for another 2 million ( down from the 3 million last one)for a new board room . maybe you can house some vets in the golden palace?
    Get them medical help, training, lets not waste money on trips to ireland, or taxpayer fundend stadiums , or bombs, that kill mostly kids and mothers.

    • > What a shame we can spend 700 billion on death/wars, but we have to ask churches to house the homeless vets, who gave their service. if anything all leaders who voted on waste, war, water, whatever!!

      I’m not aware that California is at war with anyone (other than taxpayers) so there is no money to be saved by cutting back on “death/wars”.

      California IS trying to spend $64 billion plus plus plus on a high speed rail system. Maybe we could steal a few nickels from that for the vets.

      If the High Speed Rail ends a few miles short of Buttonwillow instead of going all the way to Buttonwillow, who’s going to notice?

  6. Ok right California could cut the train to nowhere, but on federal level, they could be help also, that is the 700 billion i refer to, but again plenty of pork here also, not wars, but trains, high ceo pay and retirement(scvwd) and much more at state, good call.

  7. There is a fundamental problem with this Neoliberal and Neoconservative idea of shifting the government’s responsibility for the welfare of the people to already overburdened non profit sector. Especially when the expectation is that nonprofits must behave like for profit corporate models, focused more and more on the bottom line. This plan is not a solution or a temporary fix. This is the government’s continuation of abandoning people most in need. This is an example of the Neoliberal and Neoconservative response to the market place problem of “profits first and only.”
    The adoption of both political agendas initially criminalizes the poor, working class, and other disenfranchised groups, then shifts these same populations, that are expanding by the way rather than going away or shrinking, to someone or something else that is neither government or the private sector corporations. Shrinking the size of government and unlimited support for expanding the size and political influence of consciousless, profit making entities is a direct path to darker days for the residents of Silicon Valley.
    If you are among the critical of these populations and believe they don’t deserve to be treated with dignity, a human right, I guarentee you won’t be doing so soon. You will be one of them. Don’t let your arrogance fool you. Humility, a characteristic sorely lacking among Neoliberals and Neoconservatives, serves a purpose in the grand scheme of all things.

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