Milpitas residents have been in suspense over whether or not Hope Village, a homeless encampment, would relocate to our city from San Jose.
The encampment’s lease didn’t come up for renewal because, as explained by San Jose City Manager David Sykes in a letter to County Executive Jeff Smith, “The City is unable to amend the Agreement to enable an expansion of homeless residents or term of the current lease, because any continued or expanded use of the property as a tent village is inconsistent with the City’s grant assurances to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and specifically not consistent with the noise grants that the City received from the FAA to acquire the property to clear the previous residential uses. Because of these concerns and consistent with Airport staff discussions with the FAA, this site must be cleared of all current residential uses, or the City is at risk of losing the opportunity to receive further FAA grants for the Airport.”
But the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors passed on the Milpitas relocation option at their February 26, 2019, meeting. Instead, with the support of a $3 million allocation, Hope Village will remain in San Jose, moving from Ruff Drive to a site at LeLong and Willow Streets.
The Board of Supervisors had had its eye on a potential Milpitas location on Thompson Court. But Milpitas city staff showed up at the 2/26 Board meeting to prevent the Board from moving in Milpitas’ direction. Prior to that appearance, Milpitas City Manager Julie Edmonds-Mares had sent a letter to the Board citing the City of Milpitas’ position on the matter. Milpitas officials felt that absent a coordinated effort involving Milpitas’ City Council and City Administration, not to mention adequate public engagement and due process, the appearance of the encampment in Milpitas was undesirable at this juncture. Edmonds-Mares made a forceful case for Milpitas’ commitment to affordable housing in the letter, also noting, “The concept of temporary housing has not been thoroughly analyzed by the Milpitas City Council so sufficient time to review such a model is needed.”
Regarding the Thompson Court location, Santa Clara County Communications Manager Janice Rombeck wrote in an email to The Milpitas Beat, “That site may be considered at another time. But before any decisions would be made, the County would set up meetings with Milpitas residents and community leaders to get input. Supervisor Cortese has spoken to Milpitas City Council members about this site in the past.”
Of late, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese has been communicating the following to concerned Milpitas residents by email: “As of the last count, there are 7,000 homeless people living in Santa Clara County, and only about 2,000 have beds in shelters or other facilities. Providing relief for the misery that our unhoused population endures every day is long overdue, and should be the responsibility of all of us…
“Whether the unhoused residents are provided tents, tiny homes or trailers, the village would be operated by a nonprofit, clients would be screened, and the use of drugs or alcohol would not be permitted. Connections to medical or social services that residents may need would be provided at their request.”
A City of Milpitas press release on the matter read in part, “The City of Milpitas will continue to work with the County on the shared vision of creating opportunities for permanent affordable housing solutions and services for other projects underway, including multiple affordable housing policies and projects, such as MonteVista Apartments (50 new affordable units and rehabilitation of 163 affordable units) and 355 Sango Court (101 affordable units).”