San Jose Innovative Solution: The VTA board supports Mayor Mahan’s plan to build 200 tiny homes for people without housing on VTA-owned land to end homelessness in San Jose. Despite concerns from nearby residents and VTA staff about traffic and safety, this decision was still made.
As a VTA board member, Mayor Mahan prioritizes assisting people without housing. The tiny houses would be built near Highway 237 and VTA’s Cerone workyard. Mahan believes ending homelessness is crucial for the city.
Before choosing, the board considered other locations due to staff safety concerns. Mahan and other council members said moving the site would be more time-consuming and expensive. Mayor Mahan aims to house 1,000 homeless individuals by year-end. This means tiny homes must be made quickly.
There are currently 4,500 homeless people in San Jose, 11% less than in 2022. This is due to the recent construction of many tiny homes and temporary housing sites. Safety concerns at the new site have been raised with the city and VTA. They have committed to regular communication with neighbours and agency workers regarding these issues. Other staff members felt excluded after sharing their concerns at the VTA board meeting.
While the move-in date for the tiny homes remains uncertain, the city intends to collaborate with a non-profit to manage the 120-square-foot private housing and offer on-site case management and mental health services. The goal is to help people find permanent housing, which is challenging due to the difficulty of renting in the Bay Area.
Governor Gavin Newsom plans to distribute 200 tiny homes to provide 1,200 homes to communities across California. He also plans to build houses in Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Despite not being allocated to San Francisco and Oakland due to their emphasis on permanent supportive housing, Newsom’s primary objective is to assist towns seeking to increase housing construction.
Mayor Mahan believes establishing temporary shelter sites is crucial for reducing encampments and complying with court orders mandating shelter availability before encampment sweeps. This is due to San Jose’s growing public anger over homelessness. Mahan declared a shelter crisis emergency and is making camp and park RVs harder to speed up shelter unit construction.
Critics must be more concerned about the city’s ability to cover temporary housing costs. They estimate that constructing 1,000 temporary apartments will cost approximately $60 million annually by 2030. Housing supporters argue that investing in permanent supportive housing is more financially sustainable as it generates income through rent and housing vouchers. Mayor Mahan believes the money is well spent, as each homeless person costs the city $65,000 annually and strains emergency services.