San Jose to Convert Hotels and Motels Into Housing for Homeless

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Jose took a big step Tuesday in addressing problems with the homeless population and prostitution. Robert Handa reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014)

    San Jose has taken a big step in addressing problems with addressing its homeless populations and dealing with prostitution in the city.

    The city council on Tuesday gave its final stamp of approval on a proposal passed last week to help a designated non-profit convert some South First Street hotels and motels into transitional housing for the homeless.

    City officials and police originally wanted to shut down some of the hotels and motels on South First Street to stop known prostitution in the area. Instead, authorities found a more productive solution by making the buildings open to San Jose's homeless community.

    The program aims to help homeless who have vouchers or other means to pay rent, but can't find housing.

    "We knew that a lot of motel owners were struggling to make it," Councilman Sam Liccardo said. And as a result we're more than willing to lease out for 'prostitution activity.' "

    Jacky Morales-Ferrand, assistant director for San Jose's housing department said the program is a short-term solution to helping people who don't need a lot of time to get their lives back together and on track.

    Many families and residents living along South First Street said they walk cautiously through their own neighborhood because of all the prostitutes.

    "I'm walking with my little brother and the girls are just right here -- dressed up, you know," resident Michael Fernandez said. "Really weird and I don't want my brother to see that."

    Fernandez added that the program provides hope in cleaning up his neighborhood.

    "If this program really works, I feel like this neighborhood will become a lot safer," he said.