A survey done in 2019 reported that nearly 10,000 residents were homeless, of which 80% were unsheltered. Due to the pandemic, the numbers are bound to increase: Working Partnerships USA predicted that more than 40,000 homes in Santa Clara County are at risk of being evicted, increasing the chance for many to fall into homelessness.
Santa Clara County Supervisors may approve the $25 million project to build 10 new housing sites around the county directed to the unsheltered. This proposal was initiated by Supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee, who decided to spend around $2.5 million for each of the 10 sites under the American Rescue Plan. Simitian and local leaders who are operated by the nonprofit LiveMoves gathered in Mountainview to present this project proposal to the board of supervisors on September 28.
Each site, roughly 40 square feet in size, costs between $50K to $200K to build over the span of less than six months. CEO of LiveMoves, Aubrey Meriman, emphasizes that the plan to build is very time and cost effective: a traditional shelter can take up to multiple years to develop and cost around $400K to $800K per unit. Additionally, this plan saves taxpayers money. Renting a night in a Mountain View site is estimated to cost around $75 to $95, while in Santa Clara County, it costs around $227 per night. In Mountain View, the sites plan to comprise 100 rooms that can house around 100 adults and at least 20 children. 88 of the rooms are designated for single use, but can be used for two individuals, while the rest of the rooms can be occupied by large families of up to five people. Each room has air conditions, storage space, a desk, and a bed, and each site will host a small playground, community rooms, and shared bathrooms provided with dryers. Residents also have access to mental health support and employment services to aid them into permanent housing.
This plan is of which “That has the potential to (help) 20,000 people over the course of a five-year period,” Simitian announced at a conference in Mountain View. Additionally, studies show that 69% of individuals who spent time at the Mountain View site along with 89% of families were able to return to permanent supportive housing after just a couple months. Diane Jones, a current resident of the site describes her experience. She was a former NASA and Cisco employee, but everything began to fall once she divorced and had to take care of her son rather than going to work. Without any income, she fell into homelessness and sought help at the Mountain View Site. Jones reports, “It seems small, but it isn’t. It’s a place where I can go to sleep safely, I can lock the door, it’s amazing.” She adds, “I am really happy I am staying in my hometown, and I don’t have to leave,” Jones said. “I will always, always recommend this place.” With these project plans, we can help Santa Clara become a County where everyone can feel at home somewhere.