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  • BVNA

Ending Homelessness Near Solutions

Dear Neighbor,

This week, we set a new precedent in the city of San Jose: when we invest in new, dignified alternatives to homelessness, we will hold people accountable for using them and thereby end unsheltered homelessness in the vicinity of that solution. As I’ve said before, the neighborhoods that take on solutions to homelessness should be made better, not worse off for doing so. 

Last Tuesday, we voted on a construction agreement for the Via Del Oro interim housing community in South San Jose. This community represents two innovations on the model we’ve pioneered over the last few years, which led to a 10% decrease in street homelessness last year while the state saw a 10% increase overall. 

The first innovation is that we are building on private land. Each of our 5 previous quick build communities have been built on public land. Thanks to the vision and generosity of John and Sue Sobrato – who are giving the City a $1/year lease for ten years – we will be able to leverage underutilized private land for the first time.

While the City continues to seek public lands for these solutions, there are many more parcels of vacant and underutilized land owned by private entities in San Jose. As we prove that this model works, we will seek to replicate it with other private landowners. Because the lease is time-limited, we are designing the Via Del Oro community to be simple, low-cost, and relocatable. If the owners want to build on the land in ten years, we will be able to put the units on semi-trucks and move them to another location at minimal cost. 

The second innovation Via Del Oro represents is greater accountability for using the housing taxpayers are providing. I collaborated with four colleagues (Councilmembers Batra, Jimenez, Foley, and Cohen) on a memo that works to create no encampment zones within a two-block radius of the new Via del Oro interim housing community. 

It also reaffirms our commitment to local preference – which allows us to conduct outreach efforts first to the homeless neighbors already living in the neighborhood. After offering housing to everyone in the area multiple times, we will abate any remaining encampments within a mile and a half of Via Del Oro to ensure we make and preserve concrete progress in this part of town. 

I’m working to add this policy to every other interim housing site – existing and new – as well as all of the faster, cheaper solutions we are exploring in the year ahead, including safe sleeping, safe parking and congregate shelter. Because it’s just common sense – if you welcome a solution to homelessness in your neighborhood, you should directly experience the positive impact of bringing people indoors.


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