San Jose opens first tiny home community for homeless

In San Jose alone, more than 6,000 residents sleep in cars, shelters or on the streets every night.

After making your way past the 10-foot gate surrounding the property, 40 tiny homes — 80-square-feet rectangular structures with just enough room for a single bed, desk, shelf and air conditioning and heating system — are in neat rows with gravel paths, lined with potted plants, leading from one home to another.

…The community is open to people who are part of the county’s rapid rehousing voucher program and are in the process of securing permanent housing but need a place to stay in the interim to avoid homelessness. The city hopes to serve 120 residents on the VTA site during the first year, aiming to rotate 40 residents into permanent housing every four months.

…Only eight of the 40 sleeping cabins are currently occupied.

City officials attribute that to the stringent criteria placed on eligible residents, including a thorough background check, and the task of having to track people down.

“People get lost in the system,” Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose housing director, said in an interview following the event. “And, that’s actually one of the benefits of creating these interim sites, because as we create housing opportunities for people to move in, we know that we can connect them very quickly.”

…In addition to the cabins, the community features shared bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities, a kitchen space and common areas with computers, internet access and job boards. The community is protected around the clock by a security guard who sits in a patrol station next to the front gate.

HomeFirst not only operates the community but provides a wide range of services to residents, healthcare assistance, personal finance advice and career readiness training.

To encourage residents to work with the organization to obtain permanent housing, they are each required to pay 10 percent of their income — or $20 if they’re not employed — for the first six months. Afterward, the rent will increase by 10 percent every six months, capping at 30 percent.

San Jose opens first tiny home community for homeless

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