Man looking out a window
Michael Morand has been at the Extended Stay America in San Jose since last October as part of the temporary housing program. Photo by Joyce Chu.

A San Jose program that put homeless people up in motels is ending, and participants aren’t thrilled with their options for where to go next.

The city created the Temporary Housing Access Program in summer 2022 to provide rooms to unhoused residents enrolled in its employment program while the city was building emergency temporary housing in the parking lot of the San Jose Police Department. Officials selected LifeMoves, a nonprofit dedicated to housing people, to run the temporary housing access program and emergency housing site. With the program due to sunset by the end of the year, case workers are looking to move residents from their motel rooms to other temporary or permanent housing.

“(The program) stopped enrolling new clients earlier this year with the understanding that other service options (like temporary housing) are now more available,” LifeMoves Director of Community Engagement and Public Affairs Sarah Fields told San José Spotlight.

Roughly 50 motel residents transitioned to living at the Guadalupe Emergency Interim Housing site when it opened near the police station last May. They lived there while being employed by the city to clean the streets as part of the San Jose Bridge program. The emergency housing site, erected from shipping containers, has space for 96 people and a shared kitchen. Residents have access to case managers to help them with resumes, financial literacy, job placement and assistance in transitioning to permanent housing.

Michael Morand has been at the Extended Stay America in San Jose since last October as part of the temporary housing program. His room includes a small kitchen, large bed, closet and bathroom. Morand is reluctant to leave and said other places won’t be as comfortable or clean. He’s working with his case manager to get placed into more permanent housing, but isn’t thrilled about his options.

So far, there is a studio open at Markham Plaza off Monterey Road he might be able to rent for around $850 a month.

“It’s not the most ideal as it’s kind of sketchy,” he told San José Spotlight.

With a monthly Social Security check of $1,700 plus another $1,000 he receives from In-Home Supportive Services for taking care of his friend, Morand isn’t too worried about finding another place after the program ends. But others who aren’t in his position might not be so lucky, he said.

Program funding was initially supposed to end on June 30, but the city will pay for hotel stays until Dec. 31 in order to transition participants into other housing options. It’s unclear how much more money it will cost to run the program until the end of the year or how many people are still staying in hotels through the program. At the downtown Extended Stay America location that Morand stays at, one night costs about $150, or $4,500 a month.

The program was always intended to be a short-term stop-gap measure. Now that the Guadalupe temporary housing site is running, the city can place those in San Jose Bridge there instead of putting them up in hotels.

“The Bridge program has revised its recruitment process to align employment options to participants with a housing option offered under the interim housing program,” city housing department spokesperson Jeff Scott told San José Spotlight. “This realignment better leverages our public resources and eliminates the need for (the program at the end of the year), after the remaining participants are case managed towards alternative housing options.”

Contact Joyce Chu at [email protected] or follow @joyce_speaks on X.

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