By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose city officials unveiled conceptual renderings for small cabins that could serve to house the homeless population on Monday.

Oakland is going with Tuff Sheds in city-sanctioned camps. San Francisco wants to build more Navigation Centers. San Jose has decided on tiny homes, called sleeping cabins, to deal with its homeless problem.

The city council could approve them as early as Tuesday.

Pastor Scott Wagers walked through a homeless encampment in San Jose passing out what for some is the only temporary shelter available.

“Want a tarp?” he asks.

The thin blue tarps are a layer of protection against the elements for hundreds of people living beneath the U.S. Highway 101 and I-280 interchange in San Jose.

But soon the city hopes to move the homeless into designer micro-homes.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled designs for what the city is calling ‘sleeping cabins.’

They’re 8 foot by 10 foot and only designed to be temporary shelters for the homeless.

They would be clustered in small villages on several sites around the city, replacing the sprawling shantytowns that have sprung up all over San Jose.

Unlike some cities opting for Tuff Sheds or sanctioned tent encampments, these would be a step up.

Designed pro-bono by Gensler Architectural, the homes would be attractive to the homeless and their neighbors.

“What Gensler is offering us is a vision to restoring dignity to many of our brothers and sisters struggling out there on the streets with housing that we can all be proud of and will be an asset in our community,” said Mayor Liccardo.

Elizabeth Pina, a homeless woman who is living in a tent with her daughter, took a look at the new designs.

“It looks like something from the future…,” she said. “It’s nice. It’s better than living on a bench or in a tent.”

The cabins aren’t cheap. They will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 for each 80 square foot unit.

Homeless advocate Pastor Scott Wagers said, “Well, it’s certainly worth it. I mean, how much is a life worth? Because these tents are getting tattered and worn out. So we need something that’s really habitable like that.”

But designing the shelters may have been the easy part.

San Jose will now begin the tough political discussions around costs and where the shelter villages will be built.

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