SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Homeless advocates carried makeshift tombstones to the entrance of Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose Wednesday where more than 100 emergency housing trailers are still sitting empty.
They called it a die-in to symbolize how people on the streets could perish during the two month delay to open the trailers up.
“They go through a lot of effort and expense to get this to happen and not to use them is just ludicrous,” said Michael Morand.
The State of California gave 104 trailers to San Jose when shelter-in-place started in mid-March. The trailers had been used to house wildfire victims in Northern California.
But San Jose housing officials say most were in disrepair, and could not be immediatley occupied.
“We spent the last six weeks repairing the trailers and putting in the infrastructure to support the trailers so that they have running water, and electricity,” said Ragan Henninger of the San Jose Housing Department.
Advocates are critical of city and county plans to start re-opening the economy without fully addressing homeless needs.
Another program to open motels for the most vulnerable homeless–those with pre-existing conditions–is only partially complete.
Out of almost 700 rooms available county-wide, including this debranded Motel 6 in San Jose, less than half of the rooms are being used according to housing advocate Shaunn Cartwright.
“Twenty-five hundred people were identified as being vulnerable, but you’ve only filled 300 rooms? I don’t understand that,” Cartwright said.
San Jose officials say the first 30 trailers in the Happy Hollow parking lot will open tomorrow. Others will open in coming weeks in groups of 30.