San Jose’s city council has approved a number of new “tiny home villages” that will provide housing for homeless residents of the city, but it’s expecting to face a backlash from worried neighbors who oppose the projects.
The councilors voted 8-2 to move forward with plans to build six sites, which include two existing projects and two new sites, during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The city will also begin construction on two new sites in the future.
San Jose is leading the way in embracing smaller housing units as temporary housing for homeless people, the East Bay Times reported. The vote brings the city closer to its goal of adding 400 new tiny homes that will accommodate unhoused people who’re waiting for permanent housing. Supporterssay the project is necessary, with San Jose’s homeless population estimated to have grown by 11% since 2019.
The city has already gotten four temporary housing sites up and running, but councilors admit that it has been a challenge to find places to build the tiny homes. The approved sites are oddly shaped slivers of land adjacent to existing freeways and exit ramps in the city, and authorities say they expect opposition from residents living close to the parcels.
“There’s no doubt that any site we pick will be opposed,” said San Jose Councilmember David Cohen.
Cohen, who voted against the proposal, said he was especially concerned about one of the sites, on the city-owned Noble Avenue. He said it’s located just across the street from an elementary school, city park and library, and close to popular recreational trails, and just one block from a middle school.
“It’s a very difficult site to justify,” Cohen said.
The city faced stern opposition following a previous attempt to house homeless people there, Cohen noted, adding that he doesn’t expect the community to be any more welcoming this time around.
To head off the opposition, Cohen has proposed that the city do more outreach to the community to try and get neighborhood support for the idea. One idea being floated is to create “no encampment” zones next to the site that would banish other homeless people from setting up camps around the tiny homes.
San Jose’s city staff will report on the progress of the projects next spring. Each site is expected to cost around $15 million to develop, with operating costs estimated at an additional $3.5 million per year.