SAN JOSE (KPIX) — San Jose just broke ground on one of its biggest-ever homeless housing projects.

The North San Pedro Studios will bring 135 studio and one-bedroom apartments to homeless veterans and the chronically homeless.

“We hope that this is the first of many projects to come,” said Joshua Mantz, an Iraq War veteran who attended the project’s groundbreaking. San Jose has an estimated 700 homeless veterans.

“It’s heroic efforts like this group today who have stepped up to the challenge,” he said.

Fifty-five of the apartments will be set aside for homeless vets. Sixty will go to chronically homeless persons and 20 will go to other low income folks.

The project has taken over ten years to get off the ground.

“We had to deal with a tanking economy in 2009, we had to settle a title issue with someone who died 100 years ago, we had cost increases that were going up 20 percent a year,” said Geoffrey Morgan of First Community Housing, who spoke of the difficulties in getting the project built.

The $30 million project is a mixture of state and federal funding.

But the breakthrough came when Santa Clara County voters approved the affordable housing bond Measure A in 2016, which provided gap funding.

“Everyone who voted for Measure A, that’s the reason this project exists. If it weren’t for that measure, the construction cost increases that we saw would have sunk the project,” Morgan said.

Ironically, the groundbreaking celebration took place just on the other side of fencing from a long-standing homeless camp.

“It’s obvious, that the homelessness crisis hasn’t gotten any better here. But at the same time, we are finding solutions, we are getting projects built,” said San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo.

Another homeless housing project, the Second Street Studio Apartments is set to open in the coming weeks.

“We’re starting to move people into housing. It takes time, it takes a lot of resources and it’s very hard work,” Liccardo said.

The North San Pedro Studios will be located near San Pedro Square, and transportation and employment hubs.

People who are at 50 percent or below the area’s median income can qualify to live there.

The apartments are scheduled to open in two years.

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