SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – In the South Bay, there was a call for emergency housing for COVID-19 positive and exposed residents who cannot self quarantine.

“This is a great opportunity for us to be able to utilize emergency procedures that we have in place now,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has proposed redirecting $17-million in state homelessness funding toward the lease, purchase or construction of immediate emergency housing, such as prefabricated modular units that have been used in past disasters.

“We are looking carefully and collaboratively with the county to ensure that whatever housing we build, if we can get it built quickly enough as we hope to, will also be available to those COVID positive individuals who need to find a place where they can isolate, whether they are homeless or living in a shelter or alternatively, they are living in very congested housing, as we know so many of our residents live in apartments with perhaps a dozen or more people in the apartment, or maybe three families to a home. We need to be able to find locations where people can go if they’re COVID positive to avoid infecting their family members,” Liccardo said.

Private sector leaders have volunteered their expertise in the rapid acquisition and construction of emergency housing. 

The plan calls for the possible by-passing of procurement processes, waving of permit and land-use restrictions and the removal of barriers at the state and regional level to help expedite construction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to do everything we can to expand this inventory, just as our city staff and county staff are working very quickly to be able to get people housed in cots that are currently at our South Hall tent or Parkside Hall near the Convention Center and many other public facilities. It’s important for us to be able to have an inventory of housing that will be available also weeks from now when this crisis is over so that those folks aren’t simply pushed out onto the street,” Liccardo said.

The proposal explores possibly establishing a federal partnership by tapping into Federal Emergency Management funds.

Depending on the type of modular housing is decided on, the mayor says 400 to 500 units could be ready to go in a matter of weeks.

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