A row of tiny homes for formerly homeless people
Tiny homes located at the intersection of Mabury Road and Highway 101 in Northeast San Jose are pictured in this file photo. The city is getting $12.7 million from the state to build 200 more tiny homes.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has cut a multimillion-dollar check to San Jose as part of the state’s promise to build 200 tiny homes for the city’s homeless residents.

Newsom made a $30-million promise in March 2023 to deploy the California National Guard to build 1,200 tiny homes across the state to combat growing homelessness. San Jose is getting $12.7 million to build 200 homes, though that appears to be the extent of the state’s support. In order to get those homes built, officials said it may now be up to San Jose to tackle the development plan and the design — instead of the state.

The $12.7 million may be enough to build the 200 tiny homes city officials said, but having the city lead the development without the state’s help in planning may affect the timeline. The homes will be built on a vacant six-acre site at the VTA Cerone work yard in North San Jose.

“We’re pushing full steam ahead with Cerone and the hundreds of other safe, dignified units we have in the pipeline — we have approval from VTA and support from the council and residents,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan told San José Spotlight. “We are grateful for the governor’s financial support and continued partnership in helping alleviate the crisis on our streets.”

Originally, the state planned to cover construction costs, with San Jose only responsible for security, case management and other services. With the money from the state, San Jose will need roughly $5 million to $10 million more mostly for operational costs and supportive services, and potential construction costs should the city fall short.

Councilmember David Cohen, who sits on the VTA board of directors and represents North San Jose, said he was surprised the state cut a check for the homes instead of creating a development plan.

“I do believe that there’s a way for us to get all 200 units with the amount of money that they’re sending us, and so, until I hear otherwise, I’m not going to cry foul on the promise,” Cohen told San José Spotlight. “The only issue I have with the change — which may or may not even be an issue either — is the city may have been relying on some purchasing work and other work that the state would do to help expedite the process.”

Building out the city’s temporary housing stock is critical to San Jose’s plan to end homelessness. There are approximately 6,340 homeless residents across San Jose — with 4,411 living on the street, along rivers or in tents, according to county data. San Jose’s unhoused population shrunk by 4.7% over the prior year.

Mahan believes temporary housing is the chief reason homeless numbers have decreased. Since 2020, 493 temporary homes have been built and more than 8,800 people have been rehoused through the supportive housing system, which includes temporary homes.

The mayor wants to build 1,000 temporary homes, and while the goal has been delayed, several projects are underway.

Rue Ferrari, the city’s oldest temporary housing site, is expanding to add 134 beds. The city is also expanding its safe parking sites to provide services for people living in RVs and cars. A site opened last year at VTA’s Santa Teresa station and the city is leasing a vacant lot at 1300 Berryessa Road to open later this year.

The city is also planning to develop two additional temporary housing locations: one at a privately owned two-acre site on Via Del Oro Street and San Ignacio Avenue in District 10, and another two-acre site on Cherry Avenue owned by Valley Water near the Guadalupe River and Almaden Shopping Center.

Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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