Former San Jose hotel may become housing for homeless

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
San Jose officials want to convert former hotel into housing for homeless
San Jose officials are working on a low-cost way of addressing its homeless problem by attempting to turn a former hotel into housing for nearly 49 homeless people.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose officials are working on a low-cost way of addressing part of its homeless problem. The plan centers on a rundown hotel located on South Almaden Avenue that the city wants to buy.

Many cities are grappling with the issue of how to house the homeless and San Jose officials think the former Plaza Hotel would be an affordable site to house about 49 people. If the plan is approved, the hotel could be ready within a year.

The property is in the shadow of some of the newest luxury apartments and office towers in downtown San Jose. The challenge is getting the owner to sell to the city of San Jose instead of a big developer. "The concept is we provide people with time-limited support and after a range of time anywhere from three months to two years, those people will be able to support themselves and be economically independent," Homeless Response Manager Ray Bramson said.

The residents would not be those with long-term mental or medical issues.

The plan also calls for the building to have a limited, five-year lifespan and the city would likely profit from appreciation when sold.

The projected cost of $2.4 million is considered a small project compared to building a large-scale facility. "The big solution costs about a half-billion dollars and we're not in the position where we can afford the big solution and so we need to find as many smaller solutions as possible because we know we're not going to be able to eat this elephant in one bite," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

San Jose's homeless population of 4,000 currently lives on the street, in their cars, or in parks. So, downtown residents and workers have learned to see the homeless. "We already do have it a few blocks away, mostly homeless right around the corner, so I think it's already in existence," Brad Burdick said.

Others may not be as comfortable with it, but 49 people would no longer be on the streets. "We firmly believe that well-managed, well-maintained housing projects can revitalize neighborhoods just like any other sort of development," Bramson said.

The new facility could be open by next Fall.