SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Second Street Studios, a brand new apartment complex built exclusively for the homeless, officially opened its doors in San Jose, a first-of-its-kind move for the city.
"It's like Christmas morning, every time you open that door," Joey Richards said. Richards is a tenant at the new building and is enjoying the benefits of having permanent housing for the first time in nine years.
"I sleep in my own bed, I have a kitchen. I was able to make cookies for the first time in ten years. It's just literally a dream come true," Richards said.
San Jose is dealing with one of the most severe homeless problems in the Bay Area. A recent survey found a 42% increase in homelessness in San Jose in just the past two years. An estimated 6,000 people are homeless in San Jose.
San Jose, Santa Clara County and the State of California provided about $40 million in public funds to build the 134 apartments at the corner of Second Street and Keyes Street, where 155 people now live.
"We've got 13 more projects just like this that will house thousands of more people. We just need to accelerate the construction," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Residents who have jobs or social security pay 33% of their incomes in rent. Some without jobs, like Joey, pay just $50 a month. But she doesn't expect to be jobless for long. She's clean and sober after overcoming addictions and is ready to take the next step.
"Here I have a future, so I'm going back to school," said Richards, who recently enrolled in community college.
"And when it came to the part of the application where it asked me for my address, I teared up because I actually had something to write down. I had an address," she said.
The complex is what San Jose calls "supportive housing" because there are on-site counselors, classes and meetings to help people get jobs and find transportation.
And there is no time limit for the people living in the complex. It is not a shelter, it is now their new permanent home.
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