Residents in San Jose neighborhood oppose homeless housing plan

Bay Area

Homeless advocates in San Jose want to build permanent housing on the site of a long-defunct grocery store but some residents are pushing back.

The Old Dick’s Supermarket at 4th Street and Younger Avenue has been closed for several years, and a group called “People Assisting the Homeless” or “PATH” is eyeing the site for a project that could house formerly homeless people. 

The development could bring as many as 100 permanent apartment homes, says regional director Megan Colvard. 

“There is only one solution to homelessness and that is housing and PATH is working to end homelessness by helping people move off the street and into permanent homes of their own,” Colvard said. 

However, some neighbors are pushing back. 

A four or five-story development is just not a good fit for the mostly residential neighborhood, says opposition leader Sarah Holt. 

“It’s in my front yard and that makes me very nervous,” Holt said. “Even if it was just a 120 apartments period, I would be concerned, but with this particular population, I’m very concerned.” 

Residents are worried about more traffic, crime, drug use, and their property values. 

Others feel the project could make an existing homeless problem in the area worse, but PATH says those fears are based on misconceptions. 

“This is not a shelter, shelters merely manage the problem of homelessness, they don’t end it,” Colvard said. “We are creating permanent apartments for people in our community.”

The site is located just north of the city’s Japantown and while it is near public transit, there are few services nearby like a grocery store or medical facility, Holt claims. 

“There’s Burnett School just down the street and the kids are walking by here all day, it just makes me nervous,” she expressed. 

There is an existing shelter nearby where some of the city’s estimated 4,000 homeless can be found.  

Peggy Tangne, who works in the neighborhood, supports the project. 

“We all have to do our part in San Jose,” Tangne said. “There are homeless people on every corner and it’s just getting worse and worse.”

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