SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The city of San Jose is just weeks away from opening its first ever tiny home community for the homeless, near the nearly constructed Berryessa BART station.
People who live nearby have some lingering concerns about how the city’s first sanctioned community for homeless people will operate.
“I think it could bring a lot of problems to the neighborhood. I’m concerned about the environment and businesses too. It might be better off in another location,” said neighbor Jesus Cano.
The city considered dozens of locations before finally selecting a small parcel of land in the shadow of the BART tracks owned by the Valley Transportation Authority. They’ve worked with neighbors to address concerns about the transitional housing, including noise, trash and substance abuse issues.
“We’re putting homeless housing at this site. These are people just like me — just like you. They have an ability to work and maybe they’ve just fallen on hard times,” said Ragan Henninger, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing.
The housing department says the first residents of the tiny homes will likely move in early November and stay three to four months until finding permanent housing.
Homeless advocates say opposition to the city’s plan is misguided.
“It’s people misunderstanding the homeless. It’s people saying, ‘Not in my backyard.’ It’s the city and county just kicking the can down the road. And in the meantime, the homeless literally have nowhere to go,” said Pastor Scott Wagers.
Pastor Wagers gave us a guided tour of a sprawling homeless encampment less a mile from the tiny home community where makeshift structures straddled a creek clogged with trash. Richard Cruz said he’d lived in the encampment for two years, struggling most days just to survive.
“It’s kind of hard. I wish I could move somewhere where I could rest my head and not worry so much about someone trying to steal my things. But unfortunately, that’s everywhere,” Cruz said.
The city is planning to build a second tiny home community of about 40 homes under the Highway 101/I-280 interchange. They are still negotiating a final lease agreement with Caltrans.