‘We’re not done’: Hope Village homeless residents move out of motels
Hope Village is a sanctioned encampment for 17 of San Jose’s homeless residents. Photo courtesy of Hope Village.

    After a month of living in motels, more than a dozen former homeless residents of Hope Village are being moved again.

    When the contract for Hope Village — a now-closed sanctioned homeless encampment near the San Jose Mineta International airport — expired on March 30, housing officials with Santa Clara County’s Office of Supportive Housing decided to foot the bill for the 17 camp residents to stay for 30 days in a motel, instead of being forced into the streets to be homeless again.

    But with the end of the month approaching, their 30 days are almost up.

    By Thursday, 14 of the 17 people had accepted offers to move into temporary housing and had started moving last week, according to Michelle Covert, a housing and homelessness spokesperson for the county’s Office of Supportive Housing. Covert said she doesn’t have exact costs for the former Hope Village residents’ stays at motels because not all of them had moved out or accepted the transfer to temporary housing yet.

    She estimated costs to be about $3,000 per person — counting 16 people, with a mother and son staying in the same room — totaling about $48,000 this month.

    Housing the displaced homeless residents took “quite a bit of time and resources,” Covert added, but they now have access to case management and temporary housing from local groups such as HomeFirst, PATH and LifeMoves.

    “Some of the individuals are employed and so, for those who are employed, being in permanent stable housing will be less of a challenge for them,” Covert said. “I think it all hinges on increasing their income and finding affordable housing.”

    Covert said it’s no secret that finding affordable housing throughout the county is almost impossible, but added that it will be less difficult for those Hope Village residents who now have jobs.

    “I can’t just say, ‘Okay, in six months, they’re all going to be housed,’ because some may be housed in 30 days, some may take nine months,” she said. The longer they stay off the streets, she added, the better their chances of ending the cycle of homelessness for good.

    Megan Colvard, a regional director for PATH, said her organization is working with some of the Hope Village families to ensure they find safe housing, which she said could include another motel stay, paid for by the county.

    “The motels are not seen in any way, and not used by any agency ever, as a permanent solution,” Colvard said. “Motel vouchers are almost always used in situations of emergency.”

    And while they might find themselves in a motel room again, it doesn’t mean their homelessness has ended.

    “We’re not done until everyone we serve is in their permanent home, and not in motel rooms, not in a short-term location,” Colvard said. “Our work is not done until somebody ends up in their own permanent home where they can be safe and stable and have dignity and be well.”

    She also specifically addressed communities who have opposed, and continue to oppose, homeless housing projects in their neighborhoods.

    In March, Willow Glen residents rallied against the relocation of Hope Village to their community during a public meeting. The camp’s relocation was stalled, its 6-month contract ended and its residents were moved into motels.

    “We are facing an incredible amount of community opposition because they don’t want these permanent housing and apartments for people in their neighborhood,” Colvard said. “If we’re serious about this, then we have to be willing to embrace the solutions that are right in front of us.”

    Contact Kyle Martin at [email protected] or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.

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