SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A homeless housing proposal on an empty supermarket lot in San Jose isn’t sitting well with some people who live and work nearby, who fear it will increase crime, trash and drugs in the area.
Gene Yoneda remembers when you didn’t have to lock your doors in Japantown. Now there’s a handwritten sign on his restaurant, Minato, that warns his customers to avoid leaving valuables in their cars because of recent break-ins.
“Now it’s daily auto burglaries,” he said. “Put that sign up and there’s cameras all over now; that was never a problem before, but it’s just a daily thing.”
He believes the homeless who live off the railroad tracks a block away are mainly to blame for the crimes in Japantown recently. Now, he’s concerned the problems may get worse if a new housing development for the formerly homeless is built not too far from Minato on Younger and 4th Street, on an empty supermarket lot.
He’s far from the only one worried. Sarah Holt lives just steps away from proposed building, which will include at least 100 units.
“I feel safe here right now,” she said. “I do not feel like I will if that becomes supportive housing.”
But besides safety concerns, she believes her neighborhood isn’t the right fit for the development and the people who are trying to get back on their feet. She said there isn’t a grocery store, pharmacy or doctor’s office in walking distance.
“Also, there’s a few bars around here, there’s a bar literally next door,” said Holt. “How are you going to stay sober if there’s a bar next door to you? I don’t think the solution is this, not just because I’m worried about my safety, but there’s no resources for them here.”
A couple of the options for the building plans also only include six parking spaces, and Holt said she’s afraid traffic congestion would also become a problem since parking is already scarce in the area.
With more than 4,000 homeless in San Jose, both Holt and Yoneda believe more affordable housing needs to be built. But they said the housing development may not be the solution.
“It’s not an easy answer, but that might be partial to the solution,” said Yoneda. “If it gets them off the street, that’s fine, that’d be great. Hopefully it will.”