Homeless seniors will have another place to live in San Jose next year — on the site of a historic market.
Local elected officials and nonprofit leaders gathered Monday on the site of the former Dick’s Supermarket north of Japantown for the groundbreaking of Villas at Fourth Street, a 93-unit affordable housing project for chronically homeless seniors age 55 and above.
The project will be managed by housing nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and developed by its real estate arm, PATH Ventures. PATH pledges to incorporate some of the market’s original design into the housing project.
“Both the unhoused and the community that is housed want to end homelessness,” Joel John Roberts, chief executive officer of PATH, told San José Spotlight. “We feel like the best way to end homelessness is to build homes. This is just part of the model of how to end homelessness in Santa Clara County.”
The units are part of the more than 2,700 homes planned or built using funds from Measure A, a 2016 bond that provides $950 million for affordable housing projects. Nearby residents worried in 2019 the project would increase crime and drug use and that the area lacked the infrastructure to support the potential residents before its eventual approval.
Other organizations that chipped in for the project include Housing Trust Silicon Valley, a San Jose-based affordable housing aid nonprofit, Apple, homeless policy group Destination: Home, nonprofit affordable housing investment group National Equity Fund and Bank of America.
Referrals for the affordable senior housing will come through the county and PATH’s assessment system. Onsite services include case management, mental health care, substance use treatment, life skills and green education. The complex will include a community garden, a common room, a teaching kitchen, a laundry room on each floor, a tech lab, a rooftop terrace and a bikeshare program.
The city has struggled to keep up with its affordable housing goals, with its plan to build 25,000 homes by 2023 — including 10,000 affordable homes — currently far short of its target. The city has built 3,348 homes, 506 of which are affordable, since 2018.
Speeding up the process
Policymakers, including some on the San Jose City Council, say building affordable housing needs to happen quicker. They hope collaborations with nonprofits, the tech industry and county funding will help the city reach its goal.
“We have a lot of hurdles that are just natural hurdles through the planning process and it’s not just at the city level. Some of that is through funding,” Councilmember Raul Peralez, whose district includes Villas at Fourth Street, told San José Spotlight. “That’s where it’s really important that we’re working in coordination so that way we do get these projects moving through and not getting delayed.”
Founded in 1984 in Southern California, PATH opened an office in San Jose in 2015. In November 2019, PATH opened its first 100% supportive housing development, Villas on the Park in downtown San Jose. Since PATH Ventures was founded in 2007, it has planned or opened approximately 1,500 affordable homes. The nonprofit’s director of programs, Laura Sandoval, writes a monthly column for this publication following in the footsteps of Roberts’ column on homelessness.
PATH estimates the senior housing project will open late next year.
“For us, it’s all about people having a place to call home,” Noni Ramos, chief executive officer of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, told San José Spotlight. “While the groundbreaking is exciting, it’s really about seeing people move in here and building a community. I know that 93 homes might seem small, but for those 93 individuals, it’s life-changing.”