Milpitas City Council to sue to stop housing project which aims to place homeless people in an area hotel

By Laila Weir - Published on October 24, 2020.

Following a clash between the Milpitas City Council and the larger Santa Clara County - on which Hoodline previously reported, the Milpitas City Council now says it will sue to stop a development in its Hillview neighborhood slated to turn a former hotel into 132 apartment units for homeless people, plus supportive services, per The Milpitas Beat and San Jose Mercury News.

The move comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an additional $200 million for Project Homekey, the ambitious plan to expedite housing for homeless Californians that includes the Milpitas project.

The plan to renovate a Milpitas Extended Stay America has caused an uproar among residents, who complain they’ve been shut out of the approval process in the rush to get people housed. To streamline housing development in the light of the pandemic and increasing housing insecurity, the legislation establishing Homekey allows projects to bypass local city planning departments.

As a result, the hotel renovation can go forward without approval from the city council or community input, a situation that Mayor Rich Tran called “a travesty and a violation of our freedom,” according to The Beat.

City leadership initially supported the project, which has won county and state funding, but turned against it after hearing from residents, the Beat reports. People living near the hotel have raised concerns about safety, crime and property values, as well as complaining that the city’s homeless wouldn’t get preference for the housing units.

But Jamboree, the affordable housing developer behind the project, argues that such projects don’t significantly increase neighborhood crime. Jamboree also cites a Trulia research report that looked at more than 3,000 low-income housing projects around the country and found “no significant effect on home values … with a few exceptions.”

And a Santa Clara County government fact sheet states that a 10-year study of affordable housing units in San Jose showed no negative impact on the value of nearby homes.

“In fact, affordable housing development in many areas enhances the community by reclaiming run-down or abandoned property,” says the Jamboree website.

Furthermore, applicants for the units would have to pass background checks and sexual predator checks, a Jamboree representative told The Beat. “Supportive housing is a proven solution to end homelessness. There is a myriad of research articles out there showing this,” Jamboree’s director of services told the paper. 

The Milpitas City Council voted unanimously to pursue litigation after a last-ditch effort to slow the project by sending a letter of opposition to the county failed. The lawsuit may target both the county and Jamboree, according to the Mercury News, while it remains unclear whether the state will also be named in the city’s suit.

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