San Jose leaders on Monday officially declared homelessness in the city a crisis in order to quickly move forward with the processes of shifting people from encampments into interim housing.
At a press conference Monday, Mayor Matt Mahan, Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei, and Councilmember Omar Torres announced they would bring forward measures that, if passed, will allow the city to streamline procurement, suspend local land use and zoning requirements, and bypass other steps that otherwise slow down the ability to provide interim housing and safe sleeping sites.
Mahan said while city leaders have been calling homelessness a crisis for years, the declaration commits the city to turning their words into action.
"We call homelessness a crisis, an emergency, rhetorically, and have been doing so for many years. But our actions have to match those words. We have to treat homelessness as a crisis, as an emergency, and that's what this declaration does. It commits us to accelerating through every lever we have our ability to stand up; safe, dignified alternatives to encampments and move people indoors faster.
The declaration involves bringing forward a memo that, if passed, would allow the city to fast-track procurement, suspend local land use and zoning requirements, and speed up the process of building interim housing and providing safe parking and safe sleeping sites.
The shelter crisis memo will go before the city's Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday. According to the city, the ordinance is specifically tailored to cut red tape surrounding the creation of low-barrier solutions to homelessness and better align city processes to match recently passed state legislation for permanent affordable housing.
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