An empty, abandoned parking lot where a senior affordable housing development will go.
A 100% affordable housing complex for adults 55 and older is slated to go where the former San Jose Medical Center was located. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

More than 100 Santa Clara County seniors struggling with the cost of living will have a place to call home in downtown San Jose within the next few years.

The San Jose City Council unanimously approved a roughly $15.2 million loan Tuesday for Hawthorn Senior Apartments, a 100% affordable housing development with 101 homes for low-income and formerly unhoused older adults and two managers’ apartments. The four-story project, developed by the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, will sit on 1.1 acres at 118 and 124 N. 15th St.

The project will house older adults ages 55 and up making between 30% and 50% of Santa Clara County’s median income — roughly $126,900 for one person in 2023, according to state housing department data. Approximately 47 apartments will receive federal rental assistance vouchers for at least 20 years, with 21 reserved for older adults facing chronic homelessness.

A rendering of Hawthorn Senior Apartments. Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority.
A design image of Hawthorn Senior Apartments. Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority.

The development is a collaboration between San Jose, the county, housing authority and supportive housing providers LifeSTEPS and Abode Services. It is estimated to cost roughly $88.9 million and receive funding from affordable housing measures A and E, federal tax credits, loans, the housing authority and Prop. 63, also known as Santa Clara County’s No Place Like Home program. Construction is anticipated to start at the end of this year and finish in mid-2026.

Flaherty Ward, housing authority director of real estate, said the project furthers the housing authority’s goal to address the affordability crisis for the county’s most vulnerable residents, including the growing older adult population.

“I think a lot of folks know us for administering the Section 8 program, but the reality is we need to do more,” Ward told San José Spotlight. “That is why we have such a heavy focus on affordable housing development work.”

Eligible applicants will be selected off a county housing waitlist. Residents will have access to groceries, a courtyard and ongoing education opportunities, such as job training. Abode Services will provide part-time mental health and substance use counselors for formerly unhoused residents.

The project adds to an ongoing county effort to aid older adults grappling with high cost of living expenses, at a time when the region is struggling to keep up with housing its homeless residents. Unhoused people over age 55 made up 29.1% of the 9,903 unhoused people in the county, according to 2023 data from the county’s point-in-time count, a biennial survey of the region’s homeless residents. A county report revealed in February that for every one household that found a home in 2023, nearly two households fell into homelessness.

Despite that, Mathew Reed, director of policy for homelessness nonprofit SV@Home, said the Hawthorn development is a sign the county is doing a good job battling the affordability crisis. He’s impressed the Hawthorn project will be finished so quickly at a reasonable cost.

“We are going to make this commitment and we’re going to have resources available that are permanent and lasting that will serve lots and lots of people over time,” Reed told San José Spotlight.

The apartments, which began the development process in 2017, will fill the vacant space once home to San Jose Medical Center where many of the residents may have been born. The city’s only downtown hospital shuttered in 2004 and Hawthorn Senior Apartments will be the first development to break ground on the site.

The project adds to San Jose’s housing goals. The city has to add at least 62,200 homes by 2031 to comply with state mandates, something it has struggled with in the past.

Katie Fantin, vice president of Abode Services programs in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties, said the project will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

“The more we can do to build supportive housing, whether it’s part of a building or an entire building, it’s amazing,” Fantin told San José Spotlight.

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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