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San Jose builds homes for unhoused on former encampment site

San Jose builds homes for unhoused on former encampment site
San Jose builds homes for unhoused on former encampment site 03:10

SAN JOSE -- The mayor of San Jose is pushing to scale up its stock of emergency housing, breaking ground on a site Thursday that will soon provide hundreds of beds for people on the streets.

It's a big step to combat homelessness with the construction of the city's biggest emergency interim housing site yet.

San Jose emergency housing site
San Jose emergency housing site. CBS

The planned facility at Branham Lane and the Monterey Highway could house more than 200 people.

"I believe we in government have the responsibility to provide basic dignified housing for everyone who needs it," said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.

The city held a groundbreaking on the site which was once the location of a large homeless encampment. One of the participants was Jaime Navarro, who spent nine years living on the streets.

He now resides in a similar emergency housing site on Rue Ferrari, and says coming indoors was a life changer.

"I'm able to hold down a job. I work at Chevron. That's all I needed was a little bit of help. To have a warm meal and to take a shower. That was a lot for me man, you know?" Navarro said.

Mayor Matt Mahan said outcomes like that are what the city wants to see more of. But at the same time, his administration is working on plans to expand no encampment zones in more parts of the city.

"We're not going to take people to jail for being homeless. But I do think it's appropriate for us to have no encampment zones around schools, daycare centers and key commercial districts if and when there is housing available," Mahan said.

The city is trying to fast track the project by making it a pre-fab, modular, three-story development that could open in a year, instead of the normal two to three years. 

"The problem is really bad on my side of town," said Robyn Estrada, who lives nearby.

Estrada said the development could even be a plus for the neighborhood.

"It's great they are using the exact land that the homeless were on anyways, in an official way. In a way that neighbors won't think it's an eyesore," Estrada said.

Mayor Mahan says this project and others, which started under his predecessor Mayor Sam Liccardo, will bring the city closer to its goal of moving a thousand people out of encampments by the end of the year.

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