Services for homeless people should be expanded in San Jose

Authorities and community must collaborate to eradicate the problem


The chart shows emergency shelters that are open to homeless people in San Jose. Image from a memo by Deputy Housing Director Ragan Henninger.

The San Jose Homeless Census and Survey estimated a 40% increase of homelessness from 2017 to 2019.

Now that the new year has begun, what can San Jose do to ensure that these percentages don’t spike up every year?

San Jose’s mission should be focused on how to shelter the people in need, especially right now, during a time when a virus is rapidly spreading.

There are two existing facilities that have been open since the pandemic, the Plaza Hotel, having 20 beds and Bridge Housing Mabury, having 10.

According to San Jose Spotlight, a nonprofit news organization, “The San Jose City Council on Jan. 12 unanimously adopted a $11.3 million expenditure plan for its Homeless, Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program, which provides homeless outreach and shelter services citywide.”

With this plan, the nonprofit news organization quoted Deputy Housing Director Ragan Henninger as saying, “The money will be used for operating affordable, interim, emergency, supportive housing sites and rapid re-housing sites for families and RV programs.”

It is crucial that the city includes people that have been homeless for years and the ones that just recently became homeless because of COVID.

“The city has almost finished building two more emergency interim housing sites, on Evans Lane and Rue Ferrari, according to Henninger, to provide 228 beds and 40 beds, respectively,” the Spotlight reported.

An article published on Mercury News on Oct. 21, reported, “More than 6,000 residents in San Jose are unhoused and due to limited shelter space in the city, the vast majority of them are left without a roof over their heads most nights. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic fallout have only exacerbated the crisis and San Jose officials –along with those across the state — are looking for new ways to serve and house their most vulnerable residents.”

Spotlight quoted Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand saying, “Before the pandemic, there were 2,072 shelter beds countywide. That number has increased by 822 beds during the pandemic.”

With all of these resources and future locations for homeless people, it is hoped that housing with even more beds will be provided for the community. More facilities for homeless families is something that also needs to be put into consideration.

It is not a one-person job; everyone should help in some way by contributing to the end of homelessness. Since all of the locations are not entirely built yet, the people of San Jose need to pitch in some effort to help the city.

As a community, we need to join together and help the ones in need by providing homeless people with money, food, masks, etc. Although we can’t hand out beds and a place to stay for everyone, the least we can do is make their lives a little easier.