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San Jose bridge housing site eliminated

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San Jose’s Housing Department announced on Monday that one of the locations being considered for emergency housing for the homeless has been eliminated because of written restrictions on land usage, according to the department’s director.

Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand said in a memo to the San Jose City Council that the site located at Hellyer Avenue and Silicon Valley Road was removed from the list of the city’s potential Bridge Housing Community sites because Santa Clara County’s funding limitations require the site be used for park purposes only.

The city-owned property was a part of a comprehensive study, which began on Jan. 1, 2017, after Assembly Bill 2176 signed by Gov. Jerry Brown authorized a five-year pilot program allowing San Jose, in a state of shelter crisis, to create emergency communities as a “model of interim housing for homeless residents.” A total of 122 sites were submitted for review, and the top three candidate sites were presented to the City Council on Feb. 12.

According to Morales-Ferrand, San Jose’s Real Estate Services and Asset Management staff will seek the Council’s approval on terms of the land trade agreement this spring.

The director said that the housing department will not recommend a new site for consideration. The two remaining sites, Caltrans-owned land off Felipe Avenue and a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority staging and storage area on Mabury Road, will be further evaluated to see which is “the most viable and development ready site to host a BHC pilot project.” The community meeting scheduled to discuss the Hellyer Avenue location with residents adjacent to the site, which was postponed since the original March 1 date, will now be canceled, Morales-Ferrand said.

District 2’s Councilmember Sergio Jimenez acknowledged the update in a statement issued Monday night and said the housing department’s decision was pursuant to his preliminary assessment of the site that it was not a suitable location for a BHC.

Jimenez said in a statement:

“The site is problematic because it is isolated…It has no access to food, retail or other basic necessities; it lacks public transportation service; and it is too close to Coyote Creek, which creates environmental concerns that may be too costly to mitigate.”

Jimenez emphasized his dedication to finding solutions for the ever-present issue of homelessness in San Jose, saying that the community will “see greater success if we address homelessness as a united front.”

Jimenez added:

“It is evident that we care about the plight of our neighbors living on the streets…The main thought of divergence is HOW we solve homelessness — not whether it is worth solving.”

San Jose’s Homelessness Interventions and Solutions Division manager James Stagi previously stated that the city’s next step is to begin a partnership with independent environmental consultants to do initial studies on the possibility of bridge housing communities at each location.

Stagi said the process will take an estimated three to four months.

Once the environmental reports have been conducted, the housing department will go back to the City Council anytime from early to mid-summer with recommendations on the best location.

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