SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Police Department will be getting new neighbors. On Tuesday, city leaders voted unanimously to move forward on a project to house the homeless in an overflow parking lot for police officers.
Right now, the lot near Taylor Street and Highway 87 next to San Jose police headquarters is used for additional parking for San Jose Police.
In six months, city leaders hope Lot E will house the homeless.
"We believe our unhoused residents our part of our community," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "If they are going to live in our park, why don’t we house them in our community."
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, city leaders unanimously approved an emergency interim housing project. The project includes 16 pre-fabricated modular units with 76 private bedrooms and bathrooms.
Also included are community buildings with kitchens and laundry facilities.
The city has three similar projects including one on Evans Lane.
"Actually, it’s a parking lot I utilized for years as a San Jose police officer," said San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez. "It’s a city-owned lot that allows us to move much more quickly."
The lot sits in Peralez’s district. The city chose the site because they saw a need. It’s near a large unsanctioned encampment across from Highway 87 not to mention the city faced pressure from the FAA to clear out encampments along Guadalupe River Park by the airport.
Peralez said roughly a third of Lot E will be used. He said the city has the police support and nonprofits that work with the homeless.
The units are built at a fraction of the cost of traditional apartments and in months time.
"We want to see all the unhoused sheltered and Lot E is special to us because it provides an interim solution," said Destination Home Board member Claudine Sipili.
Homeless advocate Shaunn Cartwright isn’t convinced.
"It just seems like a ridiculous project because so many unhoused people feel threatened and harassed by the police," said Cartwright.
The mayor said the biggest challenge has been finding sites in communities that want them.
If the project is successful, it could be a permanent housing solution.
"These are not simply tiny homes that will be here today and gone in three to four years, these will last perhaps a quarter century," said Liccardo.
The total cost is expected to be $13 million paid by federal, state and city funds not to mention private donations. The goal is break ground this fall.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com