Homeless San Jose residents could soon have more access to safe shelter and protected places to park their vehicles.

The San Jose City Council votes Tuesday on four projects: one safe parking site with more than 100 parking spots for RVs and vehicle dwellers, and three different temporary shelter sites. The projects could add up to 300 interim homes as city leaders look to build tiny home communities for the unhoused in every council district.

These sites are part of Mayor Matt Mahan’s plan to complete the former mayor’s goal of building 1,000 short-term rooms—known as interim housing—for the city’s homeless population. Mahan has repeatedly touted the success of interim housing and credits it as the main reason for San Jose’s decline in homelessness. In the last year, San Jose’s overall homeless population decreased by 4.7%, or about 500 people. San Jose has roughly 6,300 homeless residents, 4,411 of whom live on city streets, according to the latest point-in-time count.

“It’s no surprise that our (homeless) rates are dropping faster than the county as a whole,” Mahan said at a news conference last week. “We are leading the way… by embracing solutions that are faster to deploy.”

Here’s where the city is looking to add more transitional homeless housing:

Another safe parking lot

An industrial 6.3-acre site at 1300 Berryessa in North San Jose is set to transform into a 24-hour haven for residents living in their vehicles. About 85 spaces will be reserved for RVs and 35 spaces for cars. If approved, it will be the city’s second safe parking site, with one in the Santa Teresa VTA station parking lot set to open this summer after multiple delays.

District 4 Councilmember David Cohen has been calling for the city to open a safe parking site in his area. Several industrial zoned streets in his district are lined with RVs, forcing decades-long businesses to consider moving outside the city.

This is no minor undertaking. The cost to open the site and operate it for the next five years will cost $24 million, city documents show. The city will lease the land from a private landowner for 10 years, with an option for an additional five years. The first year’s rent is $1.4 million and then $1.7 million—with a 3.5% increase each year.

Tiny homes from the state

In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised millions of dollars to open and operate temporary shelters for unhoused residents across the state. Newsom committed to 200 homes in San Jose. The city is looking to split that between two different locations—one on Cherry Avenue in District 9 and another in North San Jose’s Cerone VTA Yard in District 4.

The two-acre Cherry Avenue site is on land owned by Valley Water near the Guadalupe River and Almaden Shopping Center. The city council already approved the Cerone VTA site last November.

Both sites are estimated to cost $15 million each to develop. Each location will cost $3.4 million annually to operate, with a total cost of $17 million for five years for services and operations.

Both sites could have the first two years paid for if the city’s application to the state for funding is successful.

If unsuccessful, the city has two back up locations: one near the Highway 101 and Bernal Road ramp and the other between the 101 and 85 ramps. It would sit close to the Rue Ferrari homeless housing site.

Off the grid housing

The privately owned two-acre site on Via Del Oro Street and San Ignacio Avenue in District 10 may be the newest place San Jose’s homeless residents can seek temporary shelter. An anonymous philanthropist is willing to donate sleeping cabins to the city for free, according to city documents. In return, the donor expects the city to fund, design and handle site preparation, utility connections and other logistics for a five-year community.

The city is still determining how much it would cost to get the site ready, but operations would cost $3.4 annually. The city is also considering whether it makes sense financially if it’s only operational for five years.

“One novel element of this philanthropic partnership is testing the use of truly movable units that are movable and ‘off the grid’—utilizing solar and other mechanisms to dramatically minimize cost while leveraging temporarily unused land,” city staff wrote in a memo to council.

The city will vote on these options on Tuesday. Learn how to watch and participate.

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