San Jose's unhoused fear eviction as California's COVID-19 homeless housing program nears end

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Project Roomkey was part of the statewide homeless COVID-19 response to provide the unhoused with a place to live.

That program is set to expire at the end of this month and a group of San Jose residents is worried that means they will end up back on the streets.

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The look on a group of San Jose unhoused residents' faces best tells their story.

They feel scared, they are losing hope and they worry they are running out of time.

The SureStay hotel in San Jose is where they've been living free of charge during the pandemic thanks to Project Roomkey.

But, rent will soon be required.

"I make about $980 and they want $627 a month starting Oct. 1," Laura Laform said. "It's going to make it tight because I also have my daughter who has a newborn baby. I'm not going to be able to do that anymore and that's upsetting."

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The city is providing alternative living arrangements, but these people say one option is only temporary, while another doesn't work for them.

The Tiny Homes in San Jose are too far from public transportation given their mobility issues.

If they cannot afford the rent where they are now, they say their final option is back on the streets.

"What they want is stable housing, help, resources that can meet their every need and from the majority of a lot of people here, it's sad to say that it's not happening," Advocate Brian Hargrave said.

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Project Roomkey is set to expire at the end of the month and these residents say people are already being evicted if they can't pay.

The group says the options from the city do not work with their needs.

The reality of their situation is setting in.

"I have a hard time with small places," Susan Flores said. "I just keep imagining. I just can't be locked in a small room."

"Governor Newsom has how many millions of dollars from the homeless in Santa Clara County? For the first time, they had this huge grant," Laform said. "He cut the ribbon and said he was going to apply the money to us. Now we're getting booted out on the streets."

But until that time, they say they will continue to hold out hope.

We reached out to the City of San Jose for comment on this story and they gave us the following statement:

"The city has many residents who have been staying in non-congregate shelters during the pandemic and have the ability to pay the modest rent the City has established. We are very happy to be offering stable housing to dozens of vulnerable residents. The City has also learned a lot from our experience with SureStay regarding how to structure this housing program. We will reconsider rent amounts in the next six months."

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