Housing advocates hope modular units catch on in South Bay

Onlookers in San Jose watched as a five-story building was erected before their eyes this week.

The building, made out of modular units, will eventually house the homeless. The developer was looking for a way to shave time off construction, to get help to people more quickly.

The 30,000-pound modular housing units are constructed in Boise, shipped here, then stacked on top of each other.

The end result: a five story apartment building for the homeless, constructed in a matter of days.

Christopher Schmidt of Guerdon Enterprises, which makes the modular units, says, "It's kind of like Legos, if you think about it. they're like big blocks that you kind of pick up with a crane and put in place."

It's that simple. In fact, the units arrive with the kitchens and bathrooms already complete.

Matt Mitchell with Proset says, "We're going to go from a podium to full vertical construction in three weeks."

And developer First Community Housing says, with a housing shortage in San Jose, time is of the essence. So, they were looking for ways to build quality, sustainable housing for the homeless quickly. They say this style of construction can shave months off the timeline, and millions off the price tag.

When it's finished, the Second Street Studio Apartments will have 135 units, and be the largest permanent supportive housing project of its kind in San Jose.

Marty Keller with First Community Housing says, "The reason that a project like this is so important is that we can reduce the time that it takes to get homeless people that are enduring really cold nights, off the street. And that's really the key thing for us."

First Community Housing invited other non-profits to watch the process today in the hopes the modular idea will catch on.

Regina Williams, who used to be homeless, hopes it will. She says San Jose needs to build more housing, faster to get people off the streets.

Williams says, "It's cold out here. We're dying. You know we starving. I see, I heard the housing. This is help."

All the units will be stacked by this time next week. And the project will be ready to house the homeless in October.