SAN JOSE PROMISED homeless people living in RVs a safe parking site by the end of January. Now, it’s unclear when it will open.
Infrastructure work is still needed, pushing back the opening of the Santa Teresa VTA light rail site until at least March 31. But even that may not happen, housing department spokesperson Jeff Scott said.
“The city could not begin work on the property until the lease was signed,” Scott told San José Spotlight. “The city then went through a bid process (to approve a contractor), and construction has been ongoing during one of the wettest winters on record in our region.”
The VTA signed a four-year lease with the city in November to provide 45 to 60 RV spaces. At the time, city officials said the site would be ready in January.
The parking lot needs fencing and the installation solar panels before it can open, according to city documents. Once completed, the program will be run by LifeMoves, a nonprofit that has managed other safe parking locations in San Jose. They nonprofit received a $1.5 million contract for a year.
Seven of the available RV slots will go to homeless residents who were living on Spring Street near Columbus Park after a massive sweep of the encampment displaced more than 100 RV dwellers. The remaining spaces will be dedicated to RV dwellers living near the Santa Teresa VTA site. LifeMoves has begun reaching out to potential participants, Scott said.
The city estimates there are hundreds of RV dwellers parked across San Jose streets — but has no definite number. The city is counting those living in RVs to gauge the scale of services needed.
Jesus Bautista, who lives behind the San Jose Mineta International Airport after being swept from Columbus Park, said he’s been waiting more than six months to move into this site.
“They keep telling us to move from this street to the next. I just want to feel like my stuff isn’t at risk of being towed. I already lost my truck. Now I’m losing my trust.”Samson Robinson, RV dweller
“It’s been hard to live here because I don’t know if I am going to be moved,” Bautista said in Spanish. “But I’m not losing hope yet. As long as I can move into a safe parking, I’ll be happy. I’ll be more secure.”
But his neighbor, Samson Robinson, is not as hopeful. Robinson has been waiting just as long and received a notice two months ago saying he’ll get a spot at the Santa Teresa site. But last week, that slip was rescinded by city officials without explanation, he said.
“All of us were promised something, but none of us have seen that promise come true,” Robinson told San José Spotlight. “They keep telling us to move from this street to the next. I just want to feel like my stuff isn’t at risk of being towed. I already lost my truck. Now I’m losing my trust.”
Homeless advocate Scott Largent, who used to live in his RV near the airport, said the city promised at least 14 RV slots for people in this area. It’s a number floated at monthly meetings with city officials and homeless advocates, as well as from those living in the area.
Scott, the housing official, denied rescinding anyone’s admission to the safe parking site.
Scott said the remaining spots will be reserved for RV dwellers who live in South San Jose near the Santa Teresa light rail station — as initially promised by the City Council. That means about 30 RV dwellers forced to leave Columbus Park still don’t have a place to go.
Contact Jana Kadah at email@example.com or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.