San Jose moves forward with shipping container housing plan for homeless

The City of San Jose is moving forward with a plan to use shipping containers to house some of its homeless population. The project will sit on city-owned property southeast of Willow Glen. 

The project was to initially put temporary manufactured home on Evans Lane. After pushback from neighbors, it's now evolved into permanent shipping container-sized apartments for the homeless.

It’s the City of San Jose’s latest answer to help get its 4,000 homeless people off the streets, converting recycled shipping containers-into studio apartments.

“This is a type of modular construction that is an emerging market right now,” said Rachel VanderVeen from the City of San Jose’s Housing Department.

Sixty-one units, roughly 240 square feet each, will sit on the barren six-acre site on Evans Lane, which is designated for affordable housing. Half of the homes will house formerly homeless individuals and the other half will be for low-income families. Each shipping container will have multiple units.

"It saves time,” said VanderVeen. “What happens the modular housing is constructed offsite in a factory and brought to the site. Utilities are hooked up and it's ready to live in. It goes much quicker than regular construction.”

The price tag per unit is $600,000 which includes preparing the site, utilities, materials, and labor. The city’s housing department said that's consistent with current construction costs.

Abode Services will oversee the project. It will include a public library, community garden and dog park.

“It’s not really designed for that many people to live in that area,” said Rae Hanson of San Jose. 

Rae Hanson of neighboring Conklin Brothers isn't fully on board. He’s concerned with traffic, parking and safety in an area with its share of crime and blight.

“For this particular project, there’s on-site security around the clock,” said San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis. 

The project lies Davis’s district. She said the city is working closely with the neighborhood to address its concerns, while also trying to help with the city's homeless crisis.

“We continue to have a problem of housing and supply in the whole Bay Area,” said Davis. “Although this is only 61 units, this is a project where we can continue to house our homeless neighbors.”

The next hurdle is how to finance the project, which will go before the city council in February. Construction could start as early as the Fall with the hope of housing the homeless next year.