This winter, you saw the completion of our first Bridge Housing Community on Mabury Road in San Jose. What started as a rock parking lot has become a beautiful community of 40 cabins and community facilities. Even in its first few weeks, it began fulfilling its purpose, as the first participant “graduated” out of the community and into her own apartment. Now, our partners at HomeFirst – who provide an array of supportive services at the community – have a bulletin board near the kitchen, filled with smiling photographs of those former participants who are now permanently housed. Just a few blocks away, our staff, AmeriCorps, and volunteers are hard at work building the cabins that will fill an upcoming community on Felipe Avenue, opening later this year.
Meanwhile, though, we face a health crisis on top of the shelter crisis that plagues us every day. And without easy access to sanitation facilities and the option to physically distance, our unsheltered neighbors are at especially high risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s why Habitat is partnering with the City of San Jose again to address this timely predicament with Emergency Interim Housing. Three communities will serve unhoused residents, prioritizing those whose age and/or health conditions put them at increased risk of medical complications from the virus. The communities will provide temporary shelter, comprised of units with separate shower and restroom facilities, to maximize physical distancing. The communities will also offer facilities for supportive services and pet accommodations, as well as on-site security, a perimeter fence, and parking. The first community, with 78 units, will open at Monterey and Bernal Roads in just a few weeks, while communities on Evans Lane and Rue Ferrari – each serving up to 120 people – will open later in the summer.
We are proud to embark on this latest partnership with the City of San Jose, and to do something concrete in order to combat both the COVID-19 and the homelessness crises. We look forward to seeing these communities keep our unhoused neighbors – and the community as a whole – safer in this unprecedented time. And, as the pandemic emergency passes, these Emergency Interim Housing communities will join Bridge Housing Communities in helping our neighbors transition to permanent housing with support, security, and dignity.