SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Less than a year after the launch of San Jose pilot program that gave the homeless a safe place to park overnight, city leaders are considering whether to shutter it citing safety concerns, crime and under utilization.
City council members are expected to discuss the “safe parking” pilot during its regular council meeting on Tuesday.
Maya Esparza, whose district includes the Seven Trees Community Center where the program is based, wrote a memo to council members urging them to discontinue the program because of safety concerns and an increase in RVs.
Those vehicles aren’t part of the program, but have shown up in the area since the pilot began.
Esparza also mentioned the superintendent of a nearby elementary school was concerned about children walking past the lot.
There are three lots that have opened up under the program since its launch last fall: the Seven Trees Community Center as well as the Roosevelt and Southside Community Centers.
Alex Bejarano and Denise Soriano, who were part of the program for three months, and now park their RV in the Seven Trees neighborhood said the area is plagued with gang activity, including shootings and fights.
“I wouldn’t be alone here by myself,” said Soriano.
The couple, who has lived in their RV for five years, said when they discovered the “safe parking” program they had high hopes. The program not only gave them a safe place to stay from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but it gave them access to showers, bathrooms and even social services.
“They’re supposed to help you get on your feet,” said Bejarano.
While the program has helped some families get back on their feet and into permanent housing, some who continue to struggle and live in the parking lots said the “safe parking” program isn’t exactly safe, including Bejarano and Soriano.
The city’s housing department recommended that the clients be transitioned to a motel voucher program or they stop using the Seven Trees Community Center lot and move the clients elsewhere.
“Basically, I want to get out of this thing for once and get a place,” said Soriano. “I’m tired of being in this RV, and it’s nerve wracking; I mean it’s my home, but it’s time to leave.”