Steven Lynch used to ride his bike past PATH Villas at 4th Street in San Jose every week, checking on the development’s progress. He hoped luck would roll his way and he’d secure a spot in one of the studio apartments, after five years of rotating between homeless shelters and his car.
Lynch, 64, along with his two cats Queen Elizabeth and King George, matched Santa Clara County’s qualifications for individuals 55 and over and his life has stabilized. Lynch is one of 93 formerly unhoused seniors who reside at Villas at 4th Street and has been living in a studio on the fourth floor for four months. He became unhoused after leaving the high-tech job he held for an estimated 40 years due to his struggle with depression and other mental health issues.
“After all the struggles with being homeless and living in a car and living in a shelter, this is a godsend,” he told San José Spotlight.
At Villas at 4th Street, Lynch meets with a case manager at least once a week and attends group therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous as a part of the supportive services offered at the complex.
Residents pay 30% of their income as rent, and receive a housing voucher to cover the rest.
The housing site, spearheaded by Santa Clara County nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless, also known as PATH, is part of an ongoing attempt to address the homelessness crisis among seniors in Santa Clara County.
PATH CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz said she has seen residents reconnect with their communities due to the stability permanent housing provides. In 2019, PATH completed another project, Villas on the Park, which provided 83 homes for formerly homeless residents.
“It’s important to recognize that these are already our neighbors. They’re living unhoused, but they’re in our communities,” Hark Dietz told San José Spotlight. “If we can build a beautiful apartment complex with wraparound supportive services, then they become our housed neighbor.”
The site also includes a courtyard, dog park, community room, teaching kitchen, community garden, rooftop terrace, laundry room on each floor and bike share program. There are 65 studios and 28 one-bedroom apartments.
PATH Villas at 4th Street held its grand opening Wednesday, which was attended by Mayor Matt Mahan, Preston Prince, executive director of the Santa Clara Housing Authority, and Noni Ramos, CEO of nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley.
It cost nearly $47 million to build after the site broke ground in 2021. More than $700,000 came from Measure A, a 2016 affordable housing bond that will provide $950 million for an estimated 4,800 affordable homes already built, planned or in need of preservation.
Other funding comes from Bank of America, No Place Like Home — state funding aimed at providing permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness — Apple, Google, Destination: Home, Santa Clara County’s Housing Authority and Office of Supportive Housing and nonprofit lenders California Community Reinvestment Corporation and National Equity Fund.
Councilmember Omar Torres, who represents District 3 where Villas at 4th Street is located, said he plans to continue to support affordable housing for the unhoused, as someone who experienced housing instability growing up.
“They’re our mothers, our fathers. They’re cousins or brothers or sisters,” he said. “It is important that we respond to their needs with compassion and urgency.”
Jennifer Loving, CEO of Destination: Home, said the grand opening marked a proud moment.
“Today represents a collective effort to provide some justice to seniors who have really been denied their most basic rights for years, if not decades,” she told San José Spotlight.
Lynch’s red bike now rests against the wall of his studio, under blue and pink wall art that reads “love” and next to his bed and supply of cat litter. He said he is confident the housing site can help him.
“I love it,” he said.