San Jose officials have unveiled a prototype of a tiny home they hope will provide transitional housing for homeless people by next summer.
The tidy white compact structure, which will be on display outside City Hall through Wednesday, is the first of 80 units that would make up two proposed tiny home villages intended to help homeless residents get back on their feet and into permanent housing.
Next week, the City Council will vote on whether to approve the locations and funding for the project.
“This has been a long time coming,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said at the unveiling ceremony on Monday.
On any given night there are about 4,350 homeless people in San Jose, according to the most recent point-in-time census.
"That’s really the critical path that will allow us to move forward," said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose's housing director. "It’s going to take some level of courage, as the mayor said, in order to get this over the goal line. The challenge has been: Where do we put these types of facilities in an urban environment like a city that’s practically built out?"
If approved, the villages will be set up like a "hub and spoke" and include a large community center with kitchens, restrooms, showers and meeting rooms, said Janice Jensen, head of Habitat for Humanity East Bay-Silicon Valley, the project developer.
Each home would have 80 square feet of interior space — with slightly larger cabins available for people with mobility issues — and include a locking door, one twin bed, storage space and heating and air-conditioning units.
The villages would be operated by HomeFirst, a nonprofit homeless services provider, which would provide a range of health and financial services to residents, as well as round-the-clock security.
But project organizers note that while the tiny home model is an important step in providing safe, secure housing for a vulnerable population, it should not be considered an end goal.
"If we can make this work, this could be a solution we can move faster," said Morales-Ferrand. "But I don’t want to lose sight that ultimately what we really want to be doing is building more affordable housing, more permanent supportive housing. That’s how we end homelessness."