New housing project in San Jose to help those with disabilities

It's being called the first affordable housing project of its kind in San Jose to include housing for those with disabilities. The Kelsey Ayers Station would include 115 new homes for all incomes and all abilities north of downtown.

40-year-old Darcy McCann has cerebral palsy. She considers herself lucky to have found Section 8 housing in Santa Clara but wants to move to not feel so isolated.

"People with disabilities I feel are underrepresented when it comes to not only housing but things in general," said McCann.

She and dozens of other people attended a community meeting Thursday about the Kelsey Ayers Station. It's a proposal to demolish a commercial building on North First Street and build a six- story building with 115 new apartments some market rate. 

Eighty-nine of the homes are affordable for people earning $20,000 to $80,000 a year and 28 homes are just for adults with disabilities. Rent for a studio could be as low as $500 a month.

"It's a huge housing need in our community that is unfortunately lost in the affordable housing discussion that this population of individuals is not served in market rate or affordable housing," said Micaela Connery of the Kelsey Foundation.

Connery is the founder of the nonprofit inspired by a cousin named Kelsey with multiple disabilities. She said she has not heard of a proposal that houses individuals of mixed incomes and mixed abilities promoting inclusivity.

"We kind of think it couldn't be a better place in Silicon Valley, this home of innovation that's so hard hit for the affordable housing challenge," said Connery. "It seems like a perfect place to test this kind of approach."

Special features include a building design all tenants can navigate through and two full-time live-in supportive staff. City leaders said it comes when the need is great.

"Recent studies and analysis has shown that San Jose is the one of the costliest places in the country to live," said San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez.

The nonprofit chose the site near Lightrail transit within walking distance of downtown. Some neighbors have voiced concerns with density, traffic and parking.

"It does seem to be a massive project and as you can see traffic around here is pretty bad and parking is bad so I don't know if it's fully thought through," said John Jabagchourian of San Jose.

The nonprofit has been awarded an $11 million grant from the City of San Jose. The rest of the funding will come from tax credits and private donations. If all goes as planned, it could break ground next year.