“Emergency Interim Housing Response to COVID-19 and City Shelter Crises Declaration” Townhall Meeting Notes


Mayor Sam Liccardo

James Stagi, San Jose City Homeless Response Team Manager

Matt Cano, San Jose City Director of Public Works

Jim Ortbal, San Jose City, Deputy City Manager

Ragan Henninger, San Jose City, Director of Policy and Budget

Sarah Verity, Gatepath.com, Director of Board Relations and legislative Affairs

Over 300 online attendees in the surrounding communities logged in to listen and participate.


  1. Opening remarks from Mayor Liccardo
  2. Public health crisis and related government actions
  3. Emergency interim housing site selection
  4. Monterey and Bernal Sites
  5. Rue Ferrari and 101 site
  6. Summary of FAQ
  7. Public Commentary
  8. Mayor Liccardo’s Response


Opening Remarks

            Mayor Sam Liccardo made a brief reference to an action that California Governor Newsom on March 18, 2020 took emergency action and authorized $150 million in funding to protect homeless Californians from COVID-19. (1) According to the article $100 million is being allocated to build emergency shelters in suitable land parcels, and $50 is being allocated to immediately house homeless in willing hotels, motels or businesses.

            This ripple effect means the City of San Jose began immediate research on what areas of land they own and could easily begin building emergency homeless shelters upon.

Public Health Crisis and Related Government Actions

Deputy City Manager Jim Ortbal then took the floor. He referenced the AB2176 Ratified (Campos) Shelter Crisis Bill that passed in California on April 27th(2). It allows government in times of deemed crisis to public health and safety to waive certain state and local laws to use public facilities to house those in need of shelter. He stated that this bill suspends general practice laws, zoning, regulations, requirements etc. Based on the bill they are all directed to recognize two crisis’ at once: Coronavirus contagion control and the homeless population most at risk of infection and higher death rates.

Emergency Interim Housing Site Selection

Ragan Henninger, the Director of Policy and Budget then took the floor. Est. about 450 hotel and motel rooms across Santa Clara county have been utilized, 250 bed field respite center, 420 temporary shelter beds established with owner permission at South Hall and County Fairgrounds, Hours of operation, medical care, and sanitizing practices have been established to comply with shelter-in-place orders.

Montery and Bernal Sites

Jim Ortbal took the floor. Habitat for Humanity is working in collaboration with the City of San Jose and HomeFirst to work on building sites as a means for providing temporary shelters and assist residents in also finding long term sufficiency and shelter.             Three major considerations in choosing a site were speed of control, size of parcel and proximity to utilities, feasibility for rapid development. A table was shown with several areas considered of green (good for immediate development), yellow (good for longer term development), red (not feasible to build on). Here are the three sites picked in the green:

Monterey and Bernal at District 2

Evans Lane, District 6

Rue Ferrari/101, District 2.

Rue Ferrari and 101 site (xstreet Silicon Valley Blvd.)

James Stagi, Manager of Homeless Response Team took the floor. This shelter would be built on approximately 10 acres to house about 120 individuals. There would be reasonably sized communities with necessary services and individual and property management. There would be security measures implemented for staff, residents and surrounding communities for the next year. This would be 24/7 security and parking, with some common area shared facilities that would be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Residents would be assisted in finding permanent housing.

Matt Cano, Director of Public Works took the floor. Construction on this site begins tomorrow and will be finished by late June for the Monterey and Bernal sites. Rue Ferrari is delayed by several weeks and will possibly open in late July.

Ragan Henninger took the floor. She began to detail government efforts to provide security, stability and rehabilitation efforts with willing participants.

Case management: hiring individuals with experience in managing homeless tenants and property. A manager would be assigned to each resident based on a signed contract to follow various rules and expectations. i.e. no weapons, quiet hours, following a “good neighbor” plan, no loitering, no illegal activities, etc. Workshops: such as resume building, job interview skills, cooking, etc.) Resources (connections to other resources) Access to housing subsidies

Summary of FAQ

Jim Ortbal took the floor, and noted that 14 major questions being asked about the projects were answered and the website link can be accessed here:


Public Commentary

About 47 responses from concerned individuals were listened to.

Mayor Liccardo attempted to answer several questions and remarks.

Meetings notes also ended around this timeframe.


            It appears the meeting was to notify the general public and affected communities of projects already funded and beginning, or in plans of current implementation. The general appeal from all city officials was one of compassion and care.

            The general response from concerned residents was that a more democratic process should be implemented for projects such as these, and concerns about individual and family safety were not adequately addressed for many.

            Mayor Liccardo’s response was to share in opening remarks from personal experience of living within close proximity of a homeless shelter that he and other residents had not experienced any major problems. He also later pointed out the success of another shelter recently established at Maybury.

Resources         www.sanjose.ca.gov

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