SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – The San Jose City Council on Tuesday approved the construction of two "tiny home" communities to house unsheltered individuals over the next two years.
The Emergency Bridge Housing, or EBC, will be located at Mabury Road near the Berryessa BART station and near the U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate Highway 680 interchange near Felipe Avenue.
The cabins are expected to house about 320 individuals while transitioning at least 240 into permanent housing, according to city officials, who are currently in the process of negotiating a lease agreement with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Caltrans.
Habitat for Humanity EastBay/Silicon Valley will oversee the development of both sites, which will each include 40 cabins, community space, restrooms and showers. The city said construction and operation and services by HomeFirst are expected to cost about $7 million annually.
Similar structures, like "Tough Sheds" have also popped up in other Bay Area cities, including Oakland and San Francisco. Residents of the temporary homes have offered mixed responses, including concerns about security and excessive police presence.
The City Council's decision is ultimately a temporary fix, and includes collaboration with landowners to research additional emergency housing sites, such as unused industrial land or parking lots.
In September, Hope Village received a short-term lease for a fenced-off tent village near Mineta San Jose International Airport after facing a threat of removal.
The lease prevents law enforcement from doing a sweep, and is among a new crop of emergency measures from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the city to mitigate an escalating homelessness crisis in the South Bay.
According to a federal housing department study released Tuesday, the San Jose/Santa Clara County area has the fifth-largest homeless population in the country, with New York City first and Los Angeles city and county second. About 75 percent of 7,254 homeless individuals and families in the area are unsheltered, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The San Jose City Council most recently declared a shelter crisis on Nov. 27, 2018, preceded by three others beginning in 2015. The city housing department predicts the crisis will continue through Jan. 1, 2022.
A pastor Tuesday evening announced that a record 157 people died on the streets of Santa Clara County between Dec. 1, 2017, and Nov. 30, 2018, according to a public records request he made to the medical examiner's office.
The previous record was about 135, Rev. Scott Wagers said. The numbers this past year surprised him because so much attention has been given to homelessness recently, he said.
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