Exploring Alternatives for Homeless Housing: VTA Cerone Site Plan Under Scrutiny

Exploring Alternatives for Homeless Housing: Officials explore other options to assist people without housing besides building homes on unused VTA-owned land in North San Jose.

On Thursday night, a preliminary deal was brought up again after a 10-1-1 vote by the VTA Board of Directors. They plan to build 200 homes with the state at Cerone VTA yard in North San Jose. Here’s the deal. The board will also consider three more home locations. The Gilroy mayor, Marie Blankley, disagreed, and the county supervisor, Otto Lee, was absent.

A decision will soon be made about consolidating or dispersing homes at the Cerone site.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez backs exploring other options. The move was made due to transit workers’ concerns about housing homeless people near their workplaces. Chavez proposed pausing the Cerone project and exploring housing on other VTA sites. Most board members supported the original home plan, making her the minority.

We must urgently address homelessness, and Chavez highlights significant issues with the Cerone site. She stressed the need to see all the sites.

The state will give San Jose 200 free tiny homes for people without housing if suitable locations are found by year-end.

Tensions rose during the board meeting when delaying the Cerone site deal was suggested. San Jose would rent 5 acres of land for five years as part of the deal. Other considered places include VTA stations Cottle, Hostetter, and Berryessa North.

Board members discussed delaying the Cerone deal for site exploration. They stressed the importance of quick progress on homelessness instead of seeking the perfect location.

Mahan and others claim Cerone can fit 200 tiny houses. Cerone yard workers worried, so Chavez and VTA staff supported homes on multiple sites. But the city may have to pay more if it opts for this choice.

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VTA officials and union leaders worry that housing developments at Cerone may impede bus fleet electrification by taking up necessary space.

VTA land has been used for homes, temporarily or permanently. There’s a parking spot at the Santa Teresa VTA stop with plans for 1,600 temporary housing units.

Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Omar Din wants to keep the Cerone site as an option while exploring other locations. He stressed the importance of resolving worker concerns while continuing housing programs for 200 individuals.

People still have different ideas about what to do. Unions and housing groups usually align, but this time, union reps and housing nonprofits have opposing views.

Ten VTA workers were killed in a 2021 mass killing, and they’re still recovering. Some think politics hinder housing plan support. Supervisor Chavez supports homeless housing and community acceptance.

Councilmember Mahan plans to use VTA land for additional temporary homes in San Jose. His plan to run for re-election in 2024 aligns with his goal. Still, it puts him in competition with Chavez, his previous mayoral opponent.