Hope in the form of housing is becoming a reality for youth emerging from foster care or experiencing homelessness.
Construction is underway to convert the 61-room Pavilion Inn, a former hotel on North Fourth Street in San Jose, into affordable, supportive housing to help young adults become self-sufficient and avoid a lifetime of homelessness. In addition to 43 studio and one-bedroom furnished apartments, supportive services will be provided on-site, including peer mentorship, employment and mental health counseling and food. The housing project is expected to be completed in summer 2024.
The Bill Wilson Center, Jamboree Housing Corporation, San Jose, Santa Clara County Housing Authority and Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing are partnering in the conversion.
Brandi Johnson, spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, said the housing authority owns the development and leased the property to Jamboree to manage construction and day-to-day operations. Santa Clara County and the Bill Wilson Center will provide supportive services.
Josh Selo, CEO of the Bill Wilson Center, said during a recent event at the Pavilion that the effort brings hope for a brighter future without young adults experiencing homelessness in Santa Clara County.
“To realize that vision… they need to have a place to lay their head down at the end of the day,” he said, “a place to share a meal with a loved one, to study… or whatever they need to do to build that foundation for future success. Housing becomes the key for that.”
Johnson said the majority of funding, $14.3 million, comes from Project Homekey, followed by $10.8 million from the county housing authority, as well as 21 Section 8 vouchers. Santa Clara County is providing $4.2 million through No Place Like Home and Measure A, an affordable housing bond, and $2 million from the supportive housing office. San Jose is adding $2.3 million from its Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program and $500,000 from Measure E, a real estate transfer tax which helps fund affordable housing.
This is the second project for transitional-age foster youth being constructed in Santa Clara County. The 81-apartment Parkmoor Hub is expected to open in 2025 at the corner of Parkmoor and Meridian avenues in San Jose.
Speaking at the event, Jocelyn, whose last name was withheld, is an advocate for transitional age youth housing and services. The Bill Wilson Center selected her to share her transformational story as a former homeless youth.
“If I hadn’t been accepted with my son into a housing program at the age of 16,” she said, “I honestly don’t know where I would be now… I don’t think I would be here.”
The hotel conversion will accommodate families with larger apartments and pets will also be allowed. The complex will include laundry facilities, meeting and community rooms, a playground and dog park.
Preston Prince, executive director of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, said housing is crucial with the 2023 point in time count showing more than 760 homeless youth in the county, plus thousands possibly couch surfing.
“There are very vulnerable youth… on our streets and we as a society owe them something,” Prince told San José Spotlight. “We believe in them. We know they’ll be able to do something wonderful once they have stable housing.”
Flaherty Ward, director of real estate for the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, said the hotel is being rebuilt.
“We are learning a lot as an industry about how to convert these hotels…” she said, “so they provide dignified housing for the people living there, but also can serve multiple people for the next decades. The end result is a fully rehabbed building that won’t have those maintenance and capital improvement issues that I think have plagued some other Homekey projects.”
Selo said Pavilion Inn is the right size, with access to bus lines. He said half the apartments are permanent and half transitional housing. In addition to supportive services, the Bill Wilson Center provides tenants with social activities to help them develop a sense of community, he said.
He said this kind of support can give transitional youth the necessary tools to carve out their future.
“We need to create the kind of housing opportunities that minimize the impact of intergenerational poverty and homelessness,” he told San José Spotlight.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].