Bridge Housing

(Tiny Homes)

Final Update:

The third and final D2 site has been removed from consideration for Tiny Homes due to 1. ) the County's desire to use the land as county parklands, 2.) the lack of proximity to transportation and other services, as well as 3.) the threat of contamination to Coyote Creek.

The City has released its final revised top three candidate sites.

The top three candidate sites are:

1. The southwest quadrant of freeways 280/680/101, in Council District 7

2. Mabury Rd., in Council District 3

3. Hellyer Avenue near Silicon Valley Blvd., in Council District 2.

Learn from your mistakes, Don't repeat them:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had placed its water quality concerns in direct conflict with the state's affordable housing shortage by filing a complaint with the Regional Water Quality Control Board against the City of San Jose over its Coyote Creek encampment, the Jungle. Now, the City once again proposes to place the homeless in close proximity to this same creek.

In The News:

On January 15, 2018, the homeless encamped behind Tennant Road (Silver Leaf Neighborhood), almost adjacent to the proposed Bernal Tiny Homes site, started a fire, following an altercation, which threatened nearby homes. It is becoming more frequent to find the homeless walking down the center of Monterey Road (in traffic lanes) and other roadways at night or for neighbors to have to call in fires started by or threats received from those encamped behind their homes. The City's policies with regard to homelessness are failing and endangering our communities.

The Current Proposal:

The City has voted to increase the number of Tiny Homes per site location to 40, from the original 25. So, this is listening to your constituents?

  • The City originally sold the plan under the false premise that there would be one BHC site per district, this while knowing that the Department of Housing had the resources and personnel to manage a maximum of 3 sites.
  • The City claims that the homeless are already here. This is a false argument. 80 homeless persons are not currently living within a 3 mile stretch of Monterey Road. Rather, the City is proposing to "relocate" the homeless from downtown to D2 and Monterey Road, and to within two areas that were slated as "redevelopment zones" per the City's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. Is homeless housing considered redevelopment in the City of San Jose?
  • The City has back-tracked on the basic requirement that a site have ready access to transportation in a backhanded attempt to qualify sites like Bernal that would otherwise not qualify. The new language requires "access to transportation or a commitment from another agency to provide transportation".
  • The City is purporting to be following site criteria that suggests a 1/10 of a mile (528 foot) setback from residential properties. The Bernal site is... at its furthest point...528 feet from residential properties. So, why is this property still under consideration? Proposed locations in District 2 are just too close to quiet residential neighborhoods.
  • Both Monterey Road sites are in close proximity to railroad tracks and high-speed roadways, with little in terms of safe egress. So, this begs the question....are these sites optimal for housing the homeless, 70% of which will likely suffer, per the City's numbers, from mental health and or substance abuse problems?
  • Although the City suggests that this is a temporary project, the project may be extended INDEFINITELY, and, at the proposed $70,000 per home price tag, that is the likely outcome.
  • The housing first approach that will be used does not require drug testing, sobriety, substance abuse/addiction treatment, mental health treatment, or other program participation, nor does it deny housing to those with criminal records. Housing First services, if any, are voluntary. Per the HUD website on Housing First:

Everyone is “housing ready.” Sobriety, compliance in treatment, or even criminal histories are not necessary to succeed in housing. Rather, homelessness programs and housing providers must be “consumer” ready.

  • Per the county, 1,330 individuals can currently be housed through a combination of available vouchers, affordable housing units, etc. That being said, only 800 persons are currently housed. When asked to elaborate as to why there was a discrepancy, the county stated "You can increase housing, but do we have the support to utilize it?" Apparently, the answer to that question is a resounding "No". The county does not have the support staff necessary to support additional placements. Per the county, hiring qualified individuals has been a challenge. Likewise, support services can cost 10K per unit per year. So, this begs the question as Council Member Rocha posed it..."While we are proposing all this building, isn't this the low-hanging fruit?"
  • Several schools (Ledesma, Baldwin, Bernal, Stratford, Los Paseos, Valley Christian) are too close to proposed shelter locations.
  • "Even though there's no rule that homeless shelters are usually accompanied by higher rates of crime, shelters do certainly attract motley groups of people, necessitate emergency calls, and require more police in otherwise quiet, safe neighborhoods"
  • The first that these "Temporary" homes could be built and made available for occupancy is December 2018, thus eliminating any temporary and/or immediate housing benefits from the Tiny Homes/ BHC program.
  • The City is proposing to place these homeless encampments in residential neighborhoods at a time when the Governor has declared a state of emergency due to Hepatitis A outbreaks in San Diego, LA, and Santa Cruz.
  • The Bernal location will offer exhaust filled hot boxes on an on/off ramp, surrounded by high-speed roadways, without legally required setbacks from the roadway, a stones throw from the railroad tracks, with no manner of egress, no transportation or sewage (a site requirement), at a location within the CAHSR build corridor, and adjacent to quiet residential neighborhoods and schools. The Branham site will offer exhaust filled hot boxes directly adjacent to the railroad tracks, within the high speed rail corridor, close to schools, parks and libraries. These sites are not good for the homeless and not good for the community!

The Real Numbers:

To avoid required environmental review, permitting and building requirements, the City is justifying Bridge Housing (Tiny Homes) under the premise of a Homeless Housing Crisis/Emergency.

In 2017, the number of homeless according to the San Jose Homeless Census and Survey was 4,350. Please see the history below:

2004- 4,910


2009- 4,193




Although we can all agree homelessness is a problem, the numbers fail to support the City's proposed declaration of a Housing Crisis or Emergency.

The Reality:

According to the City of San Jose 2017 Homeless Survey and Census:

  • Approximately 60 percent reported being homeless for 1 year or more.
  • 7/10 reported having at least one or more disabling conditions...addiction 49%, Psychiatric 33%, PTSD 15%, Physical Disability and Chronic Health issues 28%, 25% respectively, and traumatic brain injury 5%.
  • 26 percent reported that they had spent at least one night in jail or prison in the last 12 months.
  • 16 percent reported being on probation or parole at time of the survey.

So, the City’s own numbers suggest that Bridge Housing (a.k.a. Tiny Homes) will be bring drugs, addiction, and crime into our neighborhoods creating a nuisance, and recklessly endangering D2 constituents.

The City has attempted to guilt District 2 into accepting Bridge Housing in our communities based on an assertion that District 2 was second to last in terms of affordable housing units. The City's slide, Homeless Housing in Context, had no context or basis in reality. The numbers were patently false and intentionally misleading. Here are the real housing numbers per district:

  • District 1- 995
  • District 2- 1172
  • District 3- 3023
  • District 4- 1548
  • District 5- 1349
  • District 6- 1932
  • District 7- 2342
  • District 8- 109
  • District 9- 852
  • District 10- 193

The History:

On June 28, 2016, the City Council approved a direction in which each council member would propose one site within their district where a BHC could ultimately be located. The Housing Department developed a list of potential sites for Bridge Housing Communities meeting a minimum set of standards.

On April 12, 2017, staff presented the City-owned site list to the Neighborhood Commission to discuss community outreach programs. The Housing Dept. staff worked to schedule meetings with small groups of neighborhood leaders in each district. However, as of that date, the Housing Department had met with groups in only 7 of the ten districts (per their own memorandum). The result of these seven meetings was a change to site criteria in response to neighborhood concerns re: crime, blight, and public nuisance.

On June 26, 2017, City Council Member Sergio Jimenez signed off on a number of zoning code changes for incidental shelter. In this memorandum, he made clear his position that “As the City works to create more affordable housing options, we must move forward with interim solutions to protect and house our most vulnerable residents from exposure, victimization, and crime. He continued to say “Creating a permanent ordinance that allows for year round incidental shelter is the right thing to do.” These ordinance changes, at the time, included establishing permanent regulations to allow year-round incidental shelter as a permitted use for legally established religious or non-religious assembly.

As of July 27, 2017, staff released an informational memorandum citing new site criteria and applying it to the site list. As a result…of the original 99 potential site locations, only a ridiculous 4 locations remained, two within or on the edge of District 2 and approximately 3 miles apart (at least one within a City redevelopment zone per the City’s former Super Neighborhood Initiative). The result of these changes is that D2, and this small area within it, would bear a disproportionate share of the burden resulting from these bridge homeless encampments, as well as the enrichment/gentrification of wealthy neighborhoods at the expense of less wealthy ones.

Despite the fact that the process began as early as 2016, information with regard to this program was withheld from affected neighborhoods and D2 constituents, at- large. To my knowledge, mandatory notices regarding these planned homeless encampments were never made. In fact, it was not until August 21, 2017, that residents of District 2 were provided an opportunity to hear about the proposed BHC program and to get their questions answered, to the extent that happened.

The Original Proposal:

The City proposed to build twenty-five 70 sq. foot Tiny Homes at the on/off ramp of Bernal/Monterey Road and the corner of Branham/Monterey.

A picture is worth a thousand words....

Just who is running this show?

Is misappropriation of taxpayer money and financial mismanagement a new job requirement for the Housing Department and the City of San Jose?

Tim Jones, who was accused of mismanagement and financial abuse when he ran the Richmond Housing Authority, was hired by San Jose on April 16 and resigned on April 29, housing director Jacky Morales-Ferrand said. She added that Jones, who was to be paid about $169,000 a year, didn’t get any additional compensation for leaving.

“We came to a mutual understanding and he resigned,” she said. “It was his decision.”

Morales-Ferrand wouldn’t cite a reason for Jones’ sudden departure, and the city refused to release his resignation letter on grounds that it was a “personal letter to a supervisor,” though the city has provided other officials’ resignation letters in the past. Attempts were being made to reach Jones through the housing department.

But perhaps the bigger question is how someone with such a blemished resume got the job in the first place.

Under Jones’ watch, the Richmond Housing Authority ran a $7 million deficit, allowed poor people to live in filth and was on the verge of takeover by the feds, an investigation by Reveal and government audits found. Jones, meanwhile, was charging lavish meals to taxpayers, including $400 steak dinners.

A federal investigation also found the agency had misspent $2.4 million on contracts, but Jones blamed the previous administration. His hiring in San Jose came at a critical time for the housing department — the City Council just narrowly passed new renter protections.

Morales-Ferrand said she knew Jones “had some challenges in Richmond,” but she said she received information that he was following orders to repay the misspent funds. Jones was hired to do different work in San Jose than he did in Richmond, she added, and emerged as one of two top candidates for the job after three interview panels.