Earlier this year, the city of San Jose spent more than $1.3 million repairing state-owned trailers for homeless residents, but the San Jose Mercury News reports that the city “is dismantling the temporary shelter site – just one month after people moved in.”
“Citing poor living conditions for elderly residents and constant maintenance burdens for the city, officials over the weekend transferred more than 30 homeless residents from the trailer site on a city-owned parking lot near Happy Hollow Park to county-leased hotel rooms,” the newspaper wrote. “The move came just one month after San Jose entered into a $730,000 contract with Abode Services, a Bay Area-based homeless service provider, to operate 90 trailers to isolate homeless individuals with confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 or who have pre-existing conditions and are at a high risk of contracting the disease. Residents moved in two days later.”
“We all recognize that this was an experiment,” Ragan Henninger, the city’s deputy director of housing, told the Mercury News. “After giving it our best to make it work, we had to prioritize the safety and health of the vulnerable homeless people we were serving.”
The California Office of Emergency Services delivered 104 emergency trailers to San Jose in mid-March.
“But the seemingly free donation inevitably cost the city significant resources, staff time and more than $1.3 million in inspections, repairs and maintenance emergencies,” the Mercury News reported. “Shortly after they were delivered to San Jose, the city discovered the trailers were riddled with defects – from missing sinks and countertops to damaged vents to inadequate electrical, water and sewage hookups. Only 90 of the 104 trailers were even deemed habitable by the city. Since San Jose officials were given just 24 hours’ notice before the trailers arrived, they quickly chose a site that they assumed would be vacant for the foreseeable future – a city-owned parking lot …. While city staff worked to repair the trailers, they also constructed temporary electrical and sewer systems to stand-up the trailers in the lot.”
In mid-May, the city began moving people into the trailers, but the first 30 residents overwhelmed the sewage and power systems. Elderly residents struggled to get in and out of the trailers.
The city’s contract with Abode lasts through October. The city will continue to pay the agency as it transitions to providing services to the former trailer residents now living in hotels and motels.
“The city is in conversations with the governor’s office of emergency services to determine whether the department will take the trailers back and whether the city will be eligible for any reimbursements for the costs incurred in repairing them and setting up the site,” the Mercury News wrote. (Source: San Jose Mercury News, June 17.)