Santa Clara County approves $ 40 million to revive many homeless housing sites


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The Santa Clara County Oversight Board recently approved million-dollar funding to address the homelessness crisis in the county, paving the way for more homeless housing .

County supervisors on Tuesday approved a “challenge grant” of up to $ 40 million to begin developing up to 16 homeless housing sites and projects across the county.

“What I think has been so disheartening for so many people is that with so much work that has been done, there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

“We know that despite the creation of more permanent, supportive and affordable housing and the creation of additional shelters, the number of people who are homeless and on the streets continues to grow.

Santa Clara County Supervisors Otto Lee and Joe Simitian hold a press conference at the LifeMoves site in Mountain View.

The motion was brought forward by supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee and had originally proposed a smaller $ 25 million program for 10 sites in response to an announcement from LifeMoves in hopes of identifying 10 sites and developing 10 projects. .

Earlier this week, the two supervisors held a press conference at the LifeMoves site in Mountain View to show their support and urge public and private sector partners to join the county in supporting the development of 10 transitional housing sites. additional.

“What we’re doing here in Santa Clara County is asking ourselves what can we try that could be a little more creative and that can frankly help more people,” Simitian said.

“But we also have to change the way we think, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we have and that’s not okay.”

According to the county’s latest homelessness census, about 9,706 county residents were homeless in 2019, over 80% of whom were homeless.

In contrast, the county’s accommodation capacity was 1,882 beds in January 2020 and reached as high as 2,336 during the pandemic.

The county-approved grant money will be used to develop more cost-effective housing solutions like prefabricated modular housing units, a model pioneered by LifeMoves.

“It’s a very creative approach, what people think of as containers, these are a little more flexible, a little more affordable, and if it’s done right it can be a very flexible approach to the constraints of the business. site, ”Simitian said.

Inside one of the many units available to those not staying at the LifeMoves site in Mountain View.

Traditional emergency shelters can take years to build and often cost between $ 400,000 and $ 800,000 per unit.

According to Aubrey Merriman, CEO of LifeMoves, the organization’s prefabricated modular model costs between $ 50,000 and $ 200,000 per unit and can take less than six months to build.

Portable units can also be moved to different sites depending on needs and circumstances, and can even be moved to permanent housing.

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