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San Jose Opens Tiny-House Community to Shelter the Homeless

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- The city San Jose has opened it's first so-called "bridge" housing community for the homeless.

The community on Mabury Road in the Berryessa neighborhood is made up of 40 tiny but solid wooden homes with a bed, a desk, some storage, electricity and air conditioning.

There are community restrooms and showers, a communal kitchen, a food pantry and 24-7 security.

"This site will provide 40 people with a respectful and dignified respite," said Andrea Urton, CEO of HomeFirst, which runs the community.

The community is hidden behind a tall fence, with only the tip tops of some tiny homes visible from the street.

"I would not notice that there was a homeless shelter here," said Jay Raley, who lives down the street and walks the neighborhood almost daily. "I did not know that we had people living in there now, so it's much better than we had before."

What is more noticeable are the many unhoused people living nearby and just across the street in the
creek, part of Santa Clara County's population of 6,000 homeless.

The goal is to get people in the community and then transition them into permanent homes.

"We need immediate solutions that we can build quickly and cost effectively. And that is why this bridge housing came into being," said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo and Governor Gavin Newsom toured the community, and met up with Juanita and Jen, two of the site's first residents.

"I was camped out for ten years," said Juanita, who is now applying for jobs and looking for permanent housing.

"It's cool. I love it here. I made dinner for everybody here," said Jen, who used to live in Los Gatos.

The community sits on land leased from the VTA.  It's across from the flea market and next to a city corporation yard and near an RV storage place.

Another neighbor who was jogging by said it's what the city needs more of.

"It looks nice. They're doing a great thing for the community and for the people too," said Efren Castaneda.

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