UPDATE: San Jose college students protest mayor’s homeless plans
SJSU students protest against San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan's homeless policies at City Hall on May 10, 2023. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Holding signs reading “Stop Sweeping Us Under the Rug” and “Keep People Housed,” two San Jose State University student groups protested at City Hall today against how the city is handling homelessness.

    Students for Fair Housing and Students Against Sweeps are demanding a more humanitarian approach to Mayor Matt Mahan’s homeless policies. They are asking the mayor to end the sweeping of homeless camps and protect tenants’ rights—including providing legal counsel during evictions—as well as keeping funds allocated to affordable housing.

    There are more than 6,500 homeless residents in San Jose, an 11% increase from 2019. Homeless advocates gathered last year to remember the 246 homeless people who died on Silicon Valley streets between December 2021 and November 2022. 

    “We cannot allow this to continue to the people who are part of this community,” SJSU student Zara Brown said. “Housing is a basic human need.”

    Angela Smith, another SJSU student, said she’s protesting because making affordable housing inaccessible and making it difficult for people to avoid eviction creates an impossible situation.

    “The solutions the city is presenting are unproductive,” Smith told San José Spotlight. “What we want to achieve is a realistic solution for homelessness in San Jose. Mayor Mahan’s plan to end homelessness is not effective or a sustainable solution.”

    SJSU student Angela Smith said the sweeping of homeless residents without providing adequate housing is inhumane. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    The student groups oppose Mahan’s budget plan to reallocate $38 million of the $70 million of Measure E funds toward interim housing because they believe permanent affordable housing is the best solution to homelessness. Measure E is a property transfer tax passed in 2020 that applies to property transfers of $2 million or more, with revenue going toward the housing and homelessness crisis.

    “As we all know, we have an immense humanitarian crisis on the streets of our city. And it’s time we start acting like it,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “We need to move more people indoors faster. And our quick build communities have proven to be our best strategy to do so. This approach isn’t just housing first, it’s housing now.”

    Smith said while tiny homes are a good start to shelter people, they can only stay for a limited amount of time and are kicked out if they don’t abide by the rules. It’s also unlikely Mahan will reach a goal set to complete 1,000 transitional tiny homes by the end of this year.

    Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County, said if Mahan was serious about housing, he wouldn’t be proposing cutting Measure E housing funds, which were going to help deal with homelessness and make housing more affordable. 

    “The mayor is trying to take us in a completely different direction, which is to try to make unhoused people disappear,” Perry told San José Spotlight.

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

    Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

    Leave a Reply