San Jose has one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the U.S., and now, a brand new building known as the Vietnamese American Service Center will soon help serve the estimated 140,000 residents in the area. The county’s general fund paid for the $33-million, 37,000 square foot building that stands three stories at the corner of Senter and Tully Roads in East San Jose.
The building will house many services, most of which are medical-related. As San José Spotlight reports, each year more than 3,000 Vietnamese community members are expected to use the center to get access to health screenings, mental health services, vaccines, pharmacies, dentists, child care, and more.
“This investment is critical to the health and well-being of the community. What’s impactful to me is to see the fruition of the hopes and aspirations of the community,” Supervisor Cindy Chavez told San Jose Spotlight. Chavez help spearhead the project in 2013 with former Supervisor Dave Cortese who is now a state senator. Along with medical services, the Vietnamese American Service Center will also have workspaces with computers and other office amenities for community members to use. There will also be easy access to important county resources right inside the building.
“This center will deliver to the Vietnamese American community here the same services that everyone else wants, but in a very specific way based on their needs, educational services, safety net services, health services, even services with cancer screening,” Cortese told San Jose Spotlight. As the Mercury News reports, Cortese commissioned a study that found higher cancer rates in the Vietnamese community, sometimes as high as four times the rate national rate. The study found poverty rates were much higher among the Vietnamese in San Jose. The center aims to bring the numbers down especially after the pain of the pandemic.
“To have an institutional space with the county is pretty monumental. I think it will open up a lot of doors for us to re-engage with the community, especially after a year and a half of isolation,” said Philip Nguyen with the Vietnamese American Roundtable, speaking to San José Spotlight. Officials close to the project are expected to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building on October 23rd. The building won’t actually open until sometime in November and the services inside will be limited. Officials are aiming to have the service center fully up and running in February of 2022.