Bay Area/ San Jose/ Community & Society
Published on May 21, 2021
San Jose opens vacant senior apartments to the unhousedPhoto: Google Street View

On Monday, a handful of unhoused residents in San Jose moved into a vacant senior housing complex. Santa Clara County officials said the Willow Glen apartments represent a stepping stone for homeless residents, who will eventually be placed into permanent housing at other locations as it becomes available. 

KRON4 reported that the people moving into 1185 Pedro street have already secured vouchers for longer-term housing. Five residents have moved into the former senior housing apartments, which sources say had been empty for years. KRON4 said that in the coming weeks, 80 people are expected to move in. Willow Glen will offer single-occupancy rooms with a twin bed, a small TV, and a bathroom, the Mercury News reported

Some neighbors have inquired about how long people will stay and where they'll park, and have expressed concerns that the process of opening the shelter — which had been expedited because of feared COVID outbreaks among the homeless community — was not fully transparent. San Jose councilmember Dev Davis told KRON4 that the new transitional housing in San Jose "has not included the community as much as it should have, and that's been a concern for the neighbors."

During a Santa Clara County board meeting in March 2020, officials unanimously approved a multi-million dollar lease, as well as support programs, for the Willow Glen site in response to a "local health emergency" and the need to shelter in place, as San Jose Inside reported, adding that there was conflict between county and city officials over which permits were required to turn the apartment complex into a temporary shelter. The project appears to have overcome any red-tape issues. Santa Clara County entered into a 10-year, $19 million contract with Abode Services, the largest homeless housing and services provider in the Bay Area.

Santa Clara Deputy County Executive Ky Le told KRON4 that the Willow Glen apartments will have "a full complement of property management staff; it’s going to be staffed 24 hours a day and we’re going to have a robust complement of supportive services."

Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed $12 billion in funding for homeless housing, pledging to “functionally end family homelessness” within five years, KRON4 reported, adding that California has an unhoused population of some 161,000 people — more than any other state.