San Jose: San José Mayor, Councilmembers, Propose Plan to Dramatically Reduce Homelessness Population and Beautify City
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September 22, 2021

Media Contact

Marcus Ismael, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, (415) 312-0706, marcus.ismael@sanjoseca.gov

SAN JOSÉ, CA - Today, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo and San José City Councilmembers Sergio Jimenez, Raul Peralez, David Cohen, Dev Davis, Pam Foley, and Matt Mahan announced bold solutions to tackle the homelessness crisis and beautify the City. Their proposals, outlined in two separate memos, introduce a new initiative calling for a "Compassionate and Clean San José" that would triple the number of rapid-build apartments in the City and double down on efforts to clean up neighborhoods.

The plan follows the announcement of the Biden Administration's "House America" initiative and would leverage an unprecedented amount of Federal and State funding available to address the homelessness crisis. The plan would bring the City's total rapid-build apartment units—also known as emergency housing—to 1,000 under construction or completed by the end of 2022 and pursue Homekey funding for an additional 300 hotel/motel units, which would decrease San José's unsheltered population by more than 20%. The proposals also call to quadruple the current number of positions for San José Bridge — which employs unhoused San José residents in job training programs as they work on beautifying the City—from 50 to 200. The proposals call for an expansion of efforts to address illegal dumping, including the introduction of monetary rewards for those who cite illegal dumping activities, and the deployment of cameras at illegal dumping hotspots. Finally, the proposals call for an update on the approach to the vehicle abatement program, which was modified during the shelter-in-place and has been operating in a hybrid model that reacts to resident complaints and includes some proactive enforcement.

On Monday, Mayor Liccardo joined U.S. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in launching the Biden Administration's "House America" initiative, to achieve bold goals by December 2022 to house our unhoused neighbors. Mayor Liccardo announced that San José's "House America'' goal is to rehouse 1,500 people and move forward the creation of 2,300 new transitional and permanent housing units -- through this proposal and developments brought online by Measure A-- by December 2022. Since January of 2020, the City's efforts, in conjunction with the County of Santa Clara, Housing Authority, Destination:Home, and a constellation of partner non-profits, have rehoused nearly 4,900 homeless residents.

"We have an opportunity to deploy an unprecedented level of resources to move the needle in addressing two of our City's most pressing challenges: providing housing solutions for unhoused residents, and blight on our streets," said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. "We've proven that housing can be constructed in months rather than years, and at a fraction of the cost. We also demonstrated the effectiveness of SJ Bridge, in providing employment for unhoused residents while addressing blight. In the year ahead, we must double down on what's working, and accelerate these efforts."

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In 2019, the Point in Time (PIT) census counted 6,097 unhoused residents in San Jose, of which 5,117 were unsheltered. In response to the pandemic, the City used prefabricated, modular construction to quickly build three emergency interim housing communities for 317 formerly unhoused individuals, couples, and families. The first proposal from the Mayor and Councilmembers Sergio Jimenez (D2), Raul Peralez (D3), Pam Foley (D9), and Matt Mahan (D10), will triple emergency housing capacity to a total of 1,000 by adding 683 rapid-build apartments and pursue State Homekey funding to acquire 300 units of hotels/motels. This will increase countywide shelter capacity from 28% to 54.4%, and reduce the unsheltered population by more than 20% in San José.

To fund development of the rapid-build apartments, the Mayor and Councilmembers propose leveraging the unprecedented amount of funding for which San José is eligible through Homekey, ARPA, and a historic HHAP investment to local municipalities made possible by California's Big City Mayors advocacy efforts. The modular units would be spread across six sites in the six council districts that do not currently host a transitional housing site, and would prioritize housing unsheltered residents in the immediate surrounding neighborhoods to ensure the entire community directly benefits from hosting an emergency housing site. The Mayor and Councilmembers also propose incentives for private landowners with large parking lots who might be willing to host a transitional housing community given the limited availability of land.

In addition to emergency housing construction, the plan includes recommendations to add a temporary safe parking site for unhoused residents living out of RVs in District 2, and an aggressive approach to encourage the development of a sobering center where treatment options can be identified for individuals arrested for criminal offenses while actively under the influence of a drug.

The second proposal, "Clean San José" from the Mayor and Councilmembers David Cohen (D4), Dev Davis (D6), Pam Foley (D9), and Matt Mahan (D10), calls for quadrupling of the San José Bridge program, of which Mayor Liccardo recently announced an expansion. The program currently has 50 participants. The newest proposed expansion will allow for an additional 100 residents on top of the planned expansion for a total of 200 transitional jobs, as well as add up to 250 additional litter hotspots for frequent cleaning.

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The Compassionate and Clean San Jose memoranda will be heard at the Rules Committee meeting on September 29, 2021.

The press conference can be found here.

Quotes from San José Councilmembers:

Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, District 2

"I am proud to work collaboratively with the Mayor and my colleagues to expedite interim housing solutions. As a City and society we must prioritize getting people off the streets. I especially look forward to partnering with the Mayor to temporarily locate a 'safe parking' RV site at or near the future police training facility in my district."

Councilmember Raul Peralez, District 3

"It is important that we look at all opportunities to build more housing for our most vulnerable throughout the City, while providing humane care and services. The quicker these sites can be developed, the sooner we can break the cycle of chronic homelessness."

Councilmember David Cohen, District 4

"Blight in our city is unacceptable at any level and our community is counting on us to improve the City's response.  Ensuring our unhoused residents have access to employment opportunities as they work towards stable housing is key to measurably improving quality of life for all residents of San Jose.  Further, we cannot expect resident reporting to be the single source of identifying illegal dumping.  Recording these known hotspots is an important tool for ensuring the individuals who are illegally dumping are penalized and held accountable."

Councilmember Dev Davis, District 6

"Illegal dumping has got to stop and we have to address what is out on the streets now. This will take effort and money. By using the American Recovery Plan Act dollars to employ unhoused individuals in the San Jose Bridge Transitional Jobs Program, we can give people an income and clean up our streets, creeks, and roadways."

Councilmember Pam Foley, District 9

"San Jose has a moral obligation to house each and every homeless person living on our streets, especially our unhoused children and families. By building more homes for more people throughout our city, we can achieve this moral imperative."

Councilmember Matt Mahan, District 10

"All of us, including the homeless, deserve to live in a safe, clean and compassionate city. I strongly support identifying public lands for cost-effective, quick build bridge housing and I'm continuing to call on the County to act swiftly to identify the land we need to end street homelessness in our community."

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About the City of San José

With more than 1 million residents, San José comprises the 10th largest city in the United States, and one of its most diverse cities.  San José's transformation into a global innovation center in the heart of Silicon Valley has resulted in the world's greatest concentration of technology talent and development.

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