SJ CM Doan finds City response to homeless crisis “a failure”

Image by City of San Jose, CA.

Echoing the blistering critique of SJ’s homelessness programs by the state auditor, District 7 CM Bien Doan, in a 5.14 Study Session, called out staff’s ongoing dissembling and evasions regarding the humanitarian crisis on our streets and creek beds (Edited for brevity)

We talk about homelessness over and over, year after year–for more than 25  years.

But nothing changes. 

It feels like we have analysis paralysis.

I travel up and down this state and I can tell you many cities–small and large–do not have the extensive homelessness problem we do. And I come home and I hear us say, “Well, we could’ve, we should’ve.” And we oppose any change.

So here we are, yet again, talking about shifting some Measure E money to interim housing.

And advocates say, yet again,  “We can’t.” 

I ask you: Is it ok for us to let people die on the street while we wait for that housing to be built? Is that humane? Is it okay if that homeless person is your sister, uncle, or aunt? 

The answer is No. An absolute No.

Regardless of the issue,the answer from advocates is always Permanent Supportive Housing. That costs millions and millions of dollars and takes decades to build.

Perhaps PSH made sense when our homelessness problem was much smaller. But the facts on the ground have changed and our strategy has not changed with it. We are stuck. 

It’s unacceptable. 

The way this city addresses the homelessness crisis–structurally and programmatically–is a failure at this point.

So let me ask you this: what type of structural set-up could we have right now to address quickly and efficiently the needs of our unhoused residents? Via our proposed SJ LUV program {congregate shelters} we could be providing shelter and addressing the parameters of Martin v Boise in a matter of months. We have 3-4 properties ready to go, and private entities are willing to offer properties as well.

But we have to be willing to change course and act.

We keep going around in circles, playing these word games, patting ourselves on the back, saying we’re doing a great job.

Reality says different. Businesses are leaving. Residents are leaving. Children feel unsafe. And constituents are fed up.

It’s well past time we did something about it.

Doan’s comments can be watched here.

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