By Kiet Do

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Looking to address homelessness in San Jose, city leaders announced a plan Wednesday to quickly build emergency housing and beef up a jobs program for the unhoused.

Mayor Sam Liccardo, along with six city councilmembers, announced a pair of memos to introduce an initiative, “Compassionate and Clean San Jose”, aimed at rapidly building housing and cleaning up blight in the city.

Details of the plan were made public at an event at the Rue Ferrari Emergency Interim Housing site in South San Jose. About two dozen of the pre-fabricated buildings were installed in 2020, for a total of 80 units of so-called “rapid-build apartments” on the site.

The property, which runs adjacent to Highway 101, features a dog run, community garden, laundromat and shared kitchen spaces.

Rue Ferrari Emergency Interim Housing Site in San Jose. (CBS)

Rue Ferrari Emergency Interim Housing Site in San Jose. (CBS)

City officials said the Compassionate and Clean San Jose plan proposes to triple the number of rapid-build apartments by the end of 2022, to bring the total to 1,000. The City would also solicit state funding under Project Homekey to convert an additional 300 motel units into interim housing.

If the plan is approved, the surge in interim housing could reduce the city’s homeless population by 20%, according to Liccardo.

As for cleaning debris from the numerous homeless encampments through the city, the plan also proposes to quadruple the number of workers within the San Jose Bridge program, from 50 to 200.

The program employs unhoused residents to work in beautification projects. Among other ideas, the plan would also include the deployment of surveillance cameras at illegal dumping hotspots.

Permanent housing costs $750,000 to $800,000 per unit, and can take years to construct, according to Liccardo.

“We’re on to something. What we’re doing is working. It’s getting housing built faster, more cost effectively. Getting more people off the street and more momentum is building. We’re grateful for the incredible generosity of these individuals, and these organizations,” Liccardo said.

The proposal did not specify which six districts would be targeted for the rapid-build apartment sites, only that “Staff should prioritize council districts that have not yet housed an Emergency Interim Housing Community or Bridge Housing Community”.

“We are going to be pushing forward, obviously, in the weeks ahead to council with a lot of important discussion on each of these initiatives,” the mayor said. “And I’m hopeful given the support we’ve already seen with so many council members, already doing their part, stepping forward with real leadership, working with our communities to find places where we can make room for so many of our own. We’re going to have success, hopefully, when this comes to the full council.”

Jacky, a resident at Rue Ferrari, announced to a cheering crowd that Wednesday was her last day at the housing site. The San Jose native had been homeless since 2007, but has since signed an apartment lease with her husband.

“I want other people like myself to succeed. Succeed in job searching, housing, everything,” said Jacky.

The Compassionate and Clean San Jose memos will be presented to the Rules Committee on September 29.

The memos can be read here:

https://sanjose.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5146165&GUID=9F9050A9-C454-4318-8ABE-25B01241CE02&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=752

https://sanjose.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5146170&GUID=8B75785C-8336-485D-BDFE-713C44D351D8&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=753