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NewsCommunityThe latest updates on Project Homekey's Hillview Court Apartments

The latest updates on Project Homekey’s Hillview Court Apartments

This past June, the Milpitas City Council received a report regarding the Hillview Court Apartments, located at 1000 Hillview Court. 

The apartments are part of Project Homekey, a 132-unit supportive housing project that is currently funded by Santa Clara County and owned by Jamboree Housing Corporation, a nonprofit housing developer focusing on supportive housing. Currently, 116 of the 132 units are occupied. The County also currently contracts with Abode Services to provide on-site services at the property. The property is currently managed by Domus and uses Select Security for its security services. 

Residents had brought up various safety concerns to the public related to violence, drug-related activity, and mental health. As recently as last week, the Milpitas Police Department informed the public of a domestic disturbance at the property. 

On May 22, a tenant of Hillview named Lisa Reeve emailed the City Council as well as many other groups regarding a variety of issues related to the property. Many of the issues at Hillview have led to increased calls to emergency services. 

The City Council wrote a letter to Supervisor Otto Lee asking for his assistance on the issue. Then, on May 31, Council staff attended a seminar at the property and heard from tenants about their concerns.

Starting last June, City Staff and the project team have begun to work together to provide quarterly reports to the Council regarding the property. The last two reports were made in August 2022 and November 2022. While there was a report scheduled for March 2023, it didn’t go through due to scheduling issues. As a result, this most recent report covers updates from two quarters. 

Goals and Construction

During the November 2022 Council discussion, many goals were set by the previous City Council. These goals included installing a fence between the property and nearby businesses, improving facility cleanliness, further addressing resident complaints, and improving site security to control access to the facility.

Since then, a fence has been put up around the property to separate it by nearby businesses. In addition, there have been facility improvements as well as new on-site services and staff. 

So far, construction on the project has happened in two phases, with a third phase being proposed. The first phase was conducted from 2020 to 2021 with a budget of $1.6 Million. The work in this phase included thirteen new mobility units and seven audio/visual units, an ADA-compliant path of travel, curbs and ramps, sidewalks, exit and entry points, parking and signage, and mailboxes. 

The second phase of construction went from 2021 up to 2022, with a budget of $3.7 million. Work in this phase included an outdoor area with BBQ and seating areas, a dog run, trash enclosure, mailbox canopies, and other site upgrades. Inside, there is now a community lounge and TV room, management offices, and a computer room. 

Jamboree also proposed a third phase of construction for the property. The work inside the building would include elevator modernization, a leasing area and office redesign, corridor and stairwell upgrades, and window upgrades. The exterior work would include perimeter fencing around the building in order to separate the building from adjacent neighborhoods, a shaded structure at the BBQ area, exterior paint, and a roof replacement. 

The total annual estimated budget for this phase would amount to about $3.5 million. 

The staff at the property also agreed with the tenant association to implement other changes. These include free internet available to tenants, deactivating the false exit alarm sounds, fixing the fire panel that created false alarms, developing a new grievance procedure with residents, and new parking policies in order to lessen wrongful towing on property. 

There is also a lease agreement that residents are required to follow. If there is a scenario in which a resident at the property acts in a way that is not in agreement with the lease agreement, property management will collaborate with Jamboree and Abode Case Management to determine how best to address the issue. Depending on the issue, Abode will reach out to the resident to either correct it or aid the tenant in relocation, and property management will issue either a warning or a lease violation to the resident. 

Typically, eviction occurs after repeated behavioral issues on the part of the tenant; however, if it’s a severe enough issue, such as behavior posing a threat to others in the building, management may go straight to eviction. 

Management may also propose a mutual termination agreement to residents rather than eviction so that they may not lose their housing vouchers. 

However, some residents have argued that management does not evict those who cause issues, stating worries regarding security at the property. “The security here is non-existent,” a tenant named Michelle Delury stated during the City Council meeting. “They won’t intervene, they won’t even walk around and tell people, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’”

In the past two years, eight residents have been evicted, three residents have agreed to mutual termination, and two residents currently have pending eviction court dates. 

Calls to Police and Fire 

The Milpitas Police Department also gave an update on the amount of calls at the property. In total, starting on January 1st, 2023 up until May 31st, 2023, there have been 193 calls for service at Hillview, accounting for 41% of the total calls for the year. This compares to 466 calls in 2022, 206 calls in 2021, and 121 calls in 2020. These totals include events that were initiated by police officers at the property. 

The reasons for the calls vary from burglary, disorder, or drug-related crimes. However, according to the MPD report, the majority of calls do not fall under these categories, but instead fall into an “other” category of crimes that cannot be categorized. Such crimes include fraud, family neglect or abuse, warrants, vandalism, and others. The total number of calls for this category is 179, with the next biggest reason for calls being welfare checks, at 85. 

Compared to other apartment complexes in Milpitas, Hillview has the most amount of calls related to disorder, drug-related activity, suspicious activity, violence, and welfare checks. Hillview also has the highest amount of calls compared to other apartment complexes, at 226 calls, with Cerano apartments coming in second at 114 calls. 

Like the MPD, the Milpitas Fire Department has also seen a significant increase in calls since 2022, with 30 calls in 2020, 77 calls in 2021, and 196 calls in 2022. Calls for service in 2023 also seem to be going in the same direction, with 97 incidents so far this year. The reasons for service include Emergency Medical Services, alarm activation, and fires, with the majority being due to EMS and alarm activation; however, fire-related incidents have increased by the month and year.

Notably, one resident argued that many of the alarm activations end up being false alarms. “When you burn toast does the fire department respond to your house? Because that’s what happens when someone sets off the fire, the smoke detector — the fire department comes.” 

Additional Concerns 

Other concerns made by tenants include accessibility through the building. “There’s only one door in the whole building that works with a handicap placard,” said Reeve during the City Council meeting, who further explained that the placard is not at the front door, but at the back door of the building. She further explained that tenants with disabilities have struggled with getting in and out of the building into various areas of the complex. “People with disabilities should be allowed to enjoy their entire building unit,” she stated. 

There are also concerns related to the property management company overseeing the building. The building has gone through a total of three property management companies, with the most recent being Domas, which started in May. Even though an on-site manager and on-site maintenance manager are meant to reside on-site 24/7, tenants argued that this is not the case. Reeve argued, “If we do have a new on-site live-in manager, he started within the last week living here because we do not see him at night, on the weekend. We do not have a live-in maintenance person.” 

In order to help correct and mitigate issues, Council staff proposed to create a stakeholder group for the property. The group would ideally include the project team, tenants, the supervisor office, the city council and staff, and other possible stakeholders. The Council voted to implement the group with Mayor Montano as the Council’s representative.

The tenants plan to continue to ask for support from the City. “There’s a lot of very good tenants here,” Reeve added during the meeting. “I just want the people to know that we are trying, and with everybody’s help, sooner or later, we’ll get it.” 

 

 



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Maria Denise Cuenca
Maria Denise Cuenca
Maria Denise Cuenca is a Senior at Milpitas Middle College High School. As part of the inaugural class, she’s the editor for the student newspaper, the Stepping Stone, and works concurrently as the President of the school’s She’s the First Chapter, an organization that supports girl-centered programs throughout the world. As a writer for the Milpitas Beat, she has the opportunity to write about issues relating to homelessness, local politics, and women’s rights. For over a year, she’s been a proud intern for Camp ButterFLY, where she organizes meetings, designs flyers, and does marketing for the organization to further their mission of teaching women to be leaders and find a path towards a career. During her free time, she enjoys watching shows on Netflix and reading the news.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Just think, there’s another (bigger?) being built on Sango Ct. How many residents have been assisted into self-sufficiency since it opened, or is this really a homeless warehouse?

    • Close,,they discourage residents from leaving and will not help residents who are successful and want to move on and find regular housing. They do not assist in sucess.

  2. “…..funded by Santa Clara County and owned by Jamboree Housing Corporation……. The County also currently contracts with Abode Services to provide on-site services at the property. The property is currently managed by Domus and uses Select Security for its security services. ”
    This is the entire problem. There is zero accountability. The buck is from one group to another down the line. When taxpayer money is spent, it must be controlled directly by elected officials. Otherwise you either have corruption or irresponsibility.

  3. As a resident of Hillview Court it would have been appreciated if you had consulted us on this new article instead of taking our quotes from months ago. That’s just lazy. There is no new fence. There is no new staff. You cant do an eviction when you have no property manager. Domus had one that lasted 3 weeks and quit..the previous hire only lasted a day before quitting.There is no live in property manager. At least if you’re going to report on such an important issue you would consult with the people who live here 24/7. Who have been at every meeting. One would think a compatant reporter would want the whole, real story in its entirety.

    • I just noticed the reporter is a high school student. My apologies dear, you are just learning. You need to get all sides of a story on such a sensitive issue as people’s housing. And shame on the Beat for not teaching you better.

  4. Hello Lisa. This article was meant to summarize the details of the meeting and is not a full report of the issue at Hillview. No parties were interviewed for the article and this is typically how we will do these kinds of pieces. We’ve covered residents’ concerns in the past and will definitely continue to! However we do understand your concerns. If you would like, our reporter can reach out to you to clear up any misconceptions you feel were presented at the meeting.

    • Thank you for your response. We would very much like to do a follow-up piece. Some things have changed most have not. For one them stating that Hillview has now hired more staff is an outright lie. They have actually lost a few more. Please reach out to us, the tenants, to set the record straight from what is in reality the facts on the ground level.

  5. You want a real story? Follow the money or the lack there of. Find out what happened to the $280,000 budget surplus that is now apparently just gone . Why they are moving people into rooms without so much as a bed. Why the county is paying $2500 a month per unit for a hotel room size room. Why Jamboree has been aloud to raise the rent from $1900 in 2021 to $ 2500 in 2022 thats over a $500 increase. Why property management signed a contract back in May and has yet to provide a Property manager. They say they are looking to hire someone. That’s a crock. If there is no property manager there is nobody to report problems to so they don’t have to fix anything. And they save the money they would have to pay in salary for a property manager. Its been 6 months call a temp agency. Security is a joke there is no and I repeat NO security at HIllview. Pardon my language but if you were on fire security wouldn’t pee on you to put it out. When there is a problem its left to the tenants to deal with it. And there are real crazy people here. They do zero screening they take people right off the streets and place them here. And there is zero help for them here. Abode has sold the county on this idea of “services” . And that is exactly what it is an idea. Yet when asked a direct question what exactly Abode does their answer is”well each client is different”…blalblabla. They can’t give you and answer because the don’t do anything. No wait they do offer karaoke and bingo night. But they can’t answer even one question about housing vouchers. They don’t even provide you help with paperwork. And all of this is exactly as Jamboree wants it. They don’t want this building to be stable. If it was they would have to account for the 3.5 million this building takes in. Instead they have a powerpoint presentation on how many service calls this place has for the fire dept and the police. There was a broken and malfunctioning fire panel that was sending real false alarms to the fire dept. Causing them to respond 3 and 4 times a night. Management knew all about it and did nothing for almost a year, causing them to have to pay $7000 in fines. The elevator was broken for three weeks before tenants called the media. They were out here at 10:30 that night and got it fixed. These are the real stories of what is really going on at Hillview and its not a pretty picture.You want a real story send us a real reporter ( nothing against the reporter that wrote this article. It was beautify written. but some of the issues may be a little mature for her) But send us a real reporter and then we can tell you about the embezzlement that the previous property management was responsible for and how they are trying to sweep it all under the rug. You want the real story ask somebody who is living it not somebody who’s paycheck depends on how screwed up this place is. Just saying….

    Resident
    Hillview Apts.

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