San Jose homeless shelters get $1M boost from Google’s big housing promise
The Georgia Travis House at 260 Commercial St. in San Jose has a playground space behind it. LifeMoves recently received funding from Google and Santa Clara County to renovate the space to expand the number of people the property can serve. Image credit: LifeMoves

    Days after Santa Clara County leaders approved nearly $1 million in funding to add 19 beds in San Jose for homeless women and families, Google has jumped in to double that money.

    Alphabet Inc.-owned Google will grant $1 million to LifeMoves, a nonprofit that provides interim housing and supportive services, which is aiming to expand the capacity of The Villa, at 184 S. 11th St., and the Georgia Travis House at 260 Commercial St. in San Jose.

    Google’s grant is a small part of its larger $1 billion commitment to spur housing and address homelessness throughout the Bay Area.

    The Villa, at 184 S. 11th St. in San Jose is set to get a big renovation to expand the number people nonprofit LifeMoves can serve at the property. Image credit: LifeMoves

    “We are grateful to see the public and private sectors coming together in such a strong way to help us serve more of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Bruce Ives, LifeMoves’ chief executive officer. “Grants like these are critical in fighting homelessness and collaboration like this provides a strong foundation for future efforts.”

    Currently, LifeMoves is working with San Jose planners to get approvals for its plans to renovate the two shelters. When complete, likely in June 2020, the additional beds will support a combined average of 60 to 90 people annually, according to the Menlo Park-based nonprofit.

    Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors last week allocated $939,982 in State Homeless Emergency Assistance Program — known as HEAP — funds toward the renovation projects. Those funds are long-term, forgivable loan dollars that the nonprofit expects will be forgiven as it follows the terms of its contract, according to a LifeMoves spokesperson.

    “San Jose is investing heavily in the fight against homelessness,” said downtown Councilmember Raul Peralez. “It’s great to see our allies at the county and at Google working with us in this vital effort.”

    Across the Bay Area, LifeMoves has 10 locations that serve adults and families, where about 850 people — one-third of whom are children — are housed and fed each night. Of those who got help from LifeMoves last year, 68 percent found stable housing, but that number jumps to 86 percent for families, according to the organization.

    “Expanding resources for the homeless is vitally important to the community in San Jose, and the broader Bay Area, which is why we’re proud to support the expansion of two of LifeMoves’ facilities,” said Adrian Schurr, regional manager at, the philanthropic arm of the Mountain View-based tech giant.

    The grant, announced Tuesday morning, comes as Google moves forward its plans to build a massive campus in downtown San Jose that will include more than 6 million square feet of office space alongside between 3,000 and 5,000 homes and a slew of retail space and hotels.

    San Jose officials last week kicked off a critical environmental review process for the project, which is headed for a 2020 vote by city leaders.

    Many local residents have voiced concerns that Google’s arrival in the South Bay city will come with massive displacement, particularly among low-income and vulnerable communities. Others are welcoming the tech titan into the city, eager to add employment opportunities in San Jose, which is among the only cities in the Bay Area with more homes than jobs.

    In June, about two years after announcing its interest in building a new San Jose campus, Google unveiled its $1 billion housing commitment. That housing announcement promised to make $750 million of its commercially zoned land into space for new homes to rise throughout the Bay Area and invest $250 to help developers move housing projects along.

    The final piece of Google’s $1 billion housing commitment is $50 million in grants to nonprofits focused on homelessness and displacement, which is the pot of funds where its grant to LifeMoves originated. Already, the company has granted $1.5 million to the Salvation Army to expand its San Francisco services and San Jose housing footprint from that pot.

    Contact Janice Bitters at [email protected] or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

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