San Jose: Pilot program to help those at risk of homelessness expanded

The city of San Jose is hoping to help those at risk of becoming homeless, before they end up on the streets.

They voted this week to expand a pilot program that offers temporary help to those in need. 

Once you're homeless, everything gets harder: keeping jobs, finding housing, having stability. Just ask Chad Bojorquez, now with Destination: Home, who spent four years living on the streets. 

"Sometimes it's just kind of society's perception. 'Oh, you've been homeless. We don't want to house you.' Or 'We're not going to let you into this job or this program.' So if we can intervene beforehand, you don't ever have to experience that trauma."

And that's the purpose of the program Chad now runs through Destination: Home. The focus is on homelessness prevention, something they say is more humane and less expensive, than waiting until someone has already been evicted.

Ray Bramson with Destination: Home says, "We've got to make sure that if someone is stably housed, we do everything we can to keep them in their homes."

That means everything from financial assistance, to legal services, to help with child care, to job training.

In its pilot phase, the program has helped 540 families, giving them an average of $3,900 spread over several months.

In the end, 97-percent were able to stay in their homes.

San Jose city officials are so pleased, they announced this week they're allocating $4-million to expand the program.

"With the promising results that we've seen in the pilot, we're doubling down, we're scaling up the program because we've seen that it works," said Ragan Henninger, San Jose's Deputy Director of Housing.

Destination: Home also has received private donations for the program from companies like Google and Cisco.

That money will now go to families who have fallen on hard times, lost a job or perhaps had a medical emergency.

This help is meant to be temporary, but, they say, sometimes that's all it takes.

Bojorquez says, "We're getting a lot of feedback that says if it wasn't for this assistance, I know i'd be living under a bridge."

With this expansion, the program hopes to help 900 people a year for the next two years.