San Jose focusing on quick-build communities, hotel conversions

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California Construction News staff writer

The City of San Jose is moving forward with a slew of housing solutions in response to combating the homelessness crisis, approving the purchase of the 89-room Arena Hotel with Homekey funds, and adding 561 new affordable housing units.

“The traditional approach to building housing is not fast enough to meet the urgency of this homelessness crisis,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“San José is expanding on our success of quick-build interim housing, tackling unsheltered homelessness head on, and embracing nimble, innovative approaches that enable cost-effective and rapid solutions while remaining committed to permanent housing for our most vulnerable residents.”

Quick-build communities are built in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional apartments. In 2021, Liccardo set a goal of 1,000 resident beds in quick-build communities either completed, acquired, or under development by the end of 2022.

Council voted last week to expand on the success of the first three quick-build communities with the development of 400 additional interim housing beds across the city, and four new quick-build sites across San José that have the potential for another 280 resident beds total.

Councillors approved expansions at:

  • Guadalupe SJPD Lot E quick-build community, currently under construction- is currently under construction and originally included 76 beds for unhoused residents with priority given to those living in Guadalupe River Park and nearby trails. Today, Council approved expanding the capacity by up to 20 additional beds onsite.
  • Rue Ferrari quick-build community by up to 100 beds, within the site’s existing boundaries. Rue Ferrari currently has 118 beds in south San José.

Council also approved:

  • A new quick-build community in District 4 directly adjacent to the Dr. Robert Gross percolation ponds on Noble Avenue with room for up to 100 beds.
  • A new quick-build community in District 10 on Caltrans-owned land at Great Oaks Boulevard and Highway 85 with room for up to 100 beds.
  • A new quick-build community in District 5 at Jackson Avenue and an I-680 offramp with room for up to 50 beds.
  • A new quick-build community in District 1 at northwest corner of the Prospect Road overpass of Highway 85 with room for up to 30 beds.

Council voted to accept $25.2 million in state funding through Homekey for the purchase and conversion of the 89-room Arena Hotel on the Alameda in San José and approved $53 million for 448 new affordable apartments of permanent housing across in four individual developments, of which 197 will be reserved as permanent supportive housing (PSH) for people exiting homelessness including:

  • Tamien Station: 135 affordable apartments for extremely low-income and low-income individuals and families, of which 67 will be permanent supportive housing. Over half of the units will be 2 and 3-bed apartments aimed at housing families.
  • The Charles: 99 total apartments, of which 49 PSH units.
  • 1860 Alum Rock: 60 total apartments, of which 30 PSH units.
  • 777 West San Carlos: 154 total apartments, of which 51 PSH units; including a 3,000 square foot childcare center with 1,875 square feet outdoor play area.

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