Temporary Housing is a ‘Downpayment’ on Homelessness Goals, San Jose Officials Say

San Jose leaders this week kicked off construction on the latest effort to curb the city’s crushing homelessness problem as officials grapple with a new report calling for the region to double its shelter beds and significantly boost supportive housing

The nearly 6-acre square of land sandwiched between Evans Lane and Highway 87 will soon offer 103 beds for unhoused families in the city’s Canoas Gardens neighborhood.

The site has been slated for housing for Silicon Valley’s neediest residents for at least four years, but it took a pandemic to help push the plan forward, Mayor Sam Liccardo said during a ceremony to mark the start of the project this week. “We have all been pushing together, and it has been incredible to see how quickly we are building affordable housing for homeless residents in a matter of months where it once took years,” he said.

Local officials have pushed state leaders for looser restrictions on developing temporary housing for the region’s massive homeless population during the pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed some restrictions for such projects across the state.

The first temporary housing project is getting underway as a new report—the 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessnes—was released this week.

The document pushes the county leaders to work to house 20,000 residents through supportive housing and double the number of shelter beds in the South Bay. San Jose is already on its way, according to Jim Ortbal, San Jose’s deputy city manager.

“This is a downpayment on that we’re looking to have over 300 units as part of these projects,” he said. “Ultimately, we’d like to get up to 1,000 [shelter beds] in the city, so this is really trying to accelerate that and already beginning to deliver on that plan.”

San Jose’s first tiny housing community for homeless residents opened last year after years in the works. But the project on Evans Lane—and others like it in the city—has moved fast since April, when it was chosen as one of three sites for temporary housing.

Some residents have pushed back on the aggressive timeline, but others want the site to include permanent housing in the future, along with a slew of public benefits, such as a library and speed bumps to calm traffic, District 6 Councilwoman Dev Davis said. Those features are possible in future phases, she added.

“We are able to have an interim housing solution, while we’re working on a permanent development for phase one,” Davis said. “That’s what we can get when we work together with the community, when we listen beyond the initial ‘No, we don’t want this here,’ to really hear what the concerns are and then we can get to ‘Yes.’”

The Evans Lane project is happening after other developments for the site fizzled. Just last year, a project planned by Allied Housing for 61 homes on the same property folded due to financing roadblocks.

But this time, the project has a wealthy benefactor: Peter and Susanna Pau, owners of Palo Alto-based Sand Hill Property Co. The pair is donating the modular homes, which will primarily be set aside for families.

Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay and Silicon Valley, which typically makes for-sale housing, will help build the project. Nonprofit affordable housing developer Bridge Housing Community will manage the property. Habitat for Humanity and Bridge Housing will work together on three San Jose sites, including the Evans Lane property, to bring 308 new beds for homeless residents.

“We have a crisis within a crisis,” Habitat for Humanity CEO Janice Jensen said. “The need for housing is tremendous and now we have a health crisis on top of that. It really lays bare the plague that is going on every day, and that we can do something about both of those things.”

Many unhoused people are considered high-risk for the virus due to existing health conditions, so creating housing for them to quarantine has become a centerpiece of local and state leaders’ efforts to slow the virus’ spread. 

The novel coronavirus, which has been spreading in Santa Clara County since about February, has infected at least 13,340 people and killed 208 in the county as of Thursday.

San Jose City Council members this year also approved temporary homes to rise on a city-owned 2.5-acre plot in District 2, off of Monterey and Bernal roads. There, 80 temporary shelter beds will rise within 16 to 20 modular buildings. The first phase will open Aug. 24 with capacity for about 22 people, according to city officials.

The final 120 homes will be built on Caltrans-owned land at Rue Ferrari and the Highway 101 Silicon Valley Boulevard onramp.  

Meanwhile, state officials are working to expand an initiative called Project RoomKey, which was recently rebranded recently as Project HomeKey. The program providing temporary housing for homeless people through hotel and motel rooms is transitioning into an effort to create long-term housing for those same clients. 

The three temporary housing sites in San Jose could also set an example for that effort, Liccardo said. The costs to create the prefabricated homes have been fraction of the expenses and time to build a typical residential construction project, he said

“What we’re trying to do is to demonstrate a new model,” Liccardo said. “A model in which we can get housing built quickly and affordable, even if we don’t have someone so incredibly generous as Susanna and Peter Pau to donate the housing.”

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

12 Comments

  1. It’s great that something is finally happening on the Evan’s Lane site after years and years of delays. But, the real question is why has it taken so long to start building out the woefully inadequate shelter system? Why did it take a pandemic to finally provide support to the thousands of unsheltered in San Jose? We shouldn’t be celebrating 103-beds – we should be moving on building out more sites – because there are still 5,000+ individuals, many elderly, suffering on the streets…and the previous Plan to End Homelessness should’ve included more shelter beds and transitional housing.

    If we’re satisfied with a couple hundred supportive housing units, and a couple hundred shelter beds being created annually – then we’re not taking this crisis seriously.

  2. “ ‘What we’re trying to do is to demonstrate a new model’ Liccardo said.” No comment by Sam on the previous dozens of failed models over since 1967, when the LPS Act emptied Agnews of its mentally ill patients and put them on the streets; where they have grown exponentially since then, and will continue to grow until 5150, 5151, and 5152 are modified to the point of near extinction. That release of virtually all mentally ill people into the community was a small snowball sent rolling down the mountain in 1967. It is now a snowball the size of Kansas, as more and more mentally ill folks are on the streets. The government’s response has been as ineffective at reducing homelessness as Fauci’s models have been wrong in predicting the size and speed of COVID deaths. “Transitional” housing for the 70%+ of the homeless who are mentally ill? C’mon man! What are these crazy folks gonna transition into? They are unemployable for the most part. These people need treatment in a secure lockdown mental health facility. Governors and public health directors nationwide have locked down 40 million or more healthy “non-essential” workers and their entire families, so why can’t they lock down the mentally ill to keep them from missing treatment appointments and going off their meds when they are allowed to roam free? The ACLU argued in favor of the passage of LPS in 1967 by claiming that involuntary lockdowns of the mentally ill violated their rights. But now the only rights they sue over are to release convicted felons from prisons, where they can resume their criminal lives and expose thousands to COVID. The nationwide lockdown of over 100 million healthy people does not violate their rights? And how is it that peaceful protesters, rioters, ANTIFA , BLM, and looters are all exempt from the national lockdown and don’t spread the virus? Thousands of homeless people live in close proximity to each other, yet there seems to be no increase in homeless deaths. The Governor and public health directors have kept that fact well hidden. Why? Because it proves that social distancing and mask wearing have no significant effect in reducing the transmission of COVID. Since Day One, 99.7% of people who contract COVID recover, with one notable exception—people over 60 with underlying medical conditions. So what did Cuomo and other “leaders” do? Stuck them all together in nursing homes, where over 70% of them died from COVID. Cuomo couldn’t have done much more harm than by lining them up and shooting them. Yet We the Sheeple continue to comply. Baaah.

  3. more welfare for the rich

    jobs programs for the woke-child spawn of tech boomers

    that Harker/UC tuition got to be used for sump-em

  4. This is a very good video on the homeless situation in SF, SJ is not much different. It’s called, “Chaos by the bay:The truth about homelessness in San Francisco ”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw8MACDZ3RI

    One of the things that stuck out to me in this video is 50% of the homeless in SF are not from the area, and they get 450 new arrivals every year. How are they getting here?

    Vice, which is a fairly left leaning publication wrote this back in February this year. “Instead of Helping Homeless People, Cities Are Bussing Them Out of Town”

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bvg7ba/instead-of-helping-homeless-people-cities-are-bussing-them-out-of-town

    The sad truth of the matter is, at least 50% of the homeless were bussed in here by other cities, counties and states that no longer wanted to deal with these people. I would guess it’s closer to 80%.

    I understand why this is happening, the Salvation Army’s highest paid executive makes [email protected] There’s a new breed of cattle herding out here in the wild west, and it’s the homeless. The more homeless we have, the more these charity CEO’s make.

    I think the most humane thing to do would be to find out where these folks were bussed in from, and give them a return ticket. Also sue the sender for any costs associated with dealing with them while they were here. Did they go to VMC? Send them a bill. Did the cops have to answer a call? Send them a bill. Did we have to hire trucks, dumpsters and a cleanup crew? Send them a bill. Did their family fail to take care of their own? Send them a bill. Do this enough times and these other places will get the idea that we’re not going to let them dump their problems on us. We should be suing the hell out of Nevada and Texas right now.

    I’m just going to wrap this up by saying, it’s not *just* the charity CEO’s making bank off this. Bill Marr, again, a very left leaning political commentator and comedian points out how consultants and construction companies rake in the dough as well in a bit he calls “Scamerica”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1elBgwBu2g

  5. > A good synopsis, RC.

    I think every :”conservative” and “libertarian” knows the story inside out.

    The dirty little secret is that “progressives” and “liberals” ALSO know the essential facts.”

    Conservatives/libertarians think its a humanitarian and economic scandal.

    Progressives/liberals/wokesters think that the “narrative” of homelessness and the “uncaringness” of Republicans/conservatives/libertarians/Christians could hurt Trump, so it’s a good thing to let the problem fester.

  6. > A good synopsis, RC.

    Thanks SJO.

    I forgot to mention one last thing, and that’s the real estate lobby injecting the language of “housing shortage” into the lexicon of pavlovian motivater do gooders searching for their next dose of dopamine through Facebook and Instagram likes.

  7. Just who ARE these saints and miracle workers whom the City will employ to rehabilitate, train, and transform the lives and fortunes of the thousands of homeless here in San Jose?
    I think the mayor is delusional to think that local government has the wherewithal to accomplish anything other than wasting attention, money and resources that should be directed to other areas.
    San Jose could be a beautiful model city if our government paid as much attention to boring, mundane things such as trash cleanup, weed abatement, road maintenance, park maintenance, and infrastructure construction as it does sticking it’s nose in where it has no business such as “social justice ” and “affordable housing “.
    The rising tide would lift all boats including those of the homeless and “underserved”.

  8. > I forgot to mention one last thing, and that’s the real estate lobby injecting the language of “housing shortage” into the lexicon of pavlovian motivater do gooders . . . .

    In an “efficient market”, there are no “shortages”. Prices rise until there are no more buyers. The numbers of buyers and sellers is equal and in balance.

    When economic morons with the power to dump pallets of money from helicopters into the housing market try to solve housing problems, the result is extreme, insatiable demand.

    That’s what happens when people who CAN’T AFFORD housing in a balance market place are GIVEN gobs of miracle money to buy anything THE GOVERNMENT can afford, which is just about everything.

  9. Real Problems

    No Solutions

    Democratic Run Cities

    VERSUS

    No Problems

    Real Solutions

    Republican run cities

  10. I could solve the homeless problem almost overnight but you might not like the solution.

  11. Ah yes, the SJ of past, before Liccardo’s parents shipped their village idiot son to SJ.