When the COVID-19 pandemic fell upon San Jose, some of the most vulnerable were those without safe shelter. For the city’s over 6,000 unhoused residents, emergency transitional housing was needed – fast. In partnership with the City, Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley built communities where these neighbors could safely self-isolate, live with comfort and security, and access an array of supportive services from partners like HomeFirst and Abode Services. These communities serve not only to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among our unhoused neighbors, but to help them build a bridge to permanent housing.
"We’re being treated like people - not a statistic, but like real people."
Emergency Interim Housing Resident
One participant in a community on Monterey Boulevard knew it was a special place right away. A former teacher, Sandy had experienced homelessness for seven years. Moving between shelters, facilities, and motel rooms, Sandy had survived sexual assault and struggled to overcome addiction. “Once I got here, on day one,” Sandy remembers, “all my thoughts of what happened to me and the places I’d been – they just erased from my mind and gave me that peace that I needed.”
Here, Sandy works with her HomeFirst caseworker and gets the support she needs. She gets visits from her son and granddaughter. She works on an autobiography that she hopes will inspire others. She refines her resume and fills out housing applications in preparation for the next stage of her life – for which she holds new hope.
“Once I got here, I was able to breathe, really breathe from the bottom, and my whole mindset changed,” she says. In a community unlike any she’d seen, Sandy says, “It feels different. Here, I can say I’m going home. And I know from here, I will find a place to really go home.”