Create Transitional Housing Facility at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

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We, the residents of Santa Clara County, care and have respect for all residents of our community, we petition the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors to create a transitional housing facility at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds to provide immediate support and care for our homeless community.

Homelessness is increasing faster than the current county programs can handle.  The most recent census reports 6,172 people are homeless in San Jose, a 42% increase.  There are 9,706 homeless in Santa Clara county.

The county of Santa Clara is the only local government entity responsible for social welfare which includes individuals who are without shelter (homeless) due to poverty, severe mental illness, and/or drug addiction.

The Board of Supervisor's strategy of exclusively creating permanent and supportive housing is not adequately addressing the problem. Measure A housing programs are estimated to take ten years to fully implement. San Jose has also devoted millions to affordable housing, but it will take years to approve then build.

In the meantime, people are living in the creeks, streets, and on the side of freeways, as illustrated in the picture on the petition which was taken in San Jose by a supporter.

People are living without proper shelter, sanitation, refuse disposal, and non-emergency room medical care.  The lack of proper sanitation and refuse disposal is responsible for health and safety issues among the homeless.  We do not want to let this problem continue any longer.  We do not want to become a city like Los Angeles who has contributed to their crisis by not creating transitional/bridge housing and now has a host of preventable diseases due to living on the streets.

Additionally, the lack of proper sanitation, feces, drug paraphernalia, and trash accumulation are having a significant environmental impact. Many of the homeless are using our riparian zones (land along water bodies) as their living quarters. The city and county spend millions removing from our riparian zones, the tons of trash left by the homeless. In 2016 the city of San Jose settled a hundred million dollar lawsuit due to the pollution of our creeks and waterways. The homeless must be offered an appropriate sanctioned encampment at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds which will also protect our riparian corridors.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2018, "Cities can't make it a crime to sleep on a public street or sidewalk when no homeless shelters are available."

The county owned and controlled 158 acre fairground facility is underutilized and has ample room to dedicate a small portion of the land to this much needed transitional housing facility.  Only ten acres would be needed.  The four day county fair in August as well as other events could continue.  Gate D on Monterey Highway in a mixed commercial area which currently already hosts paid RV parking is a possible area that could be used.

The facility already has established sewer, water, and electrical connections, as well as garbage disposal and recycling, medical and county services close by. Safety would be provided by the Sheriff's Department. This could help relieve some of the burden on SJPD and could possibly help SJPD response times in the area.  There is a large existing homeless population around the fairgrounds, transitional housing at this location could immediately help them.

The county has an over eight billion dollar budget for 2019-2020 and could fund this with current revenue. There is no need to raise taxes.

Offering safe, clean, environmentally conscious, and fiscally responsible shelter on county owned land will offer immediate help to the vulnerable homeless population. To maximize the safety and care for all who would use this facility, the facility should include the following:

* Portable housing such as tents, as well as showers, toilets, sanitation, and garbage disposal;

* Communal food service area;

* An onsite place to assess the needs of the individuals such as medical, mental health, and drug addiction.  The individual would then be directed to the appropriate agency for service;

* A section should be dedicated for a safe living space for women.  This could be  part of $5-10 million project to build monuments in honor of women's contributions to society.  Women are often the most vulnerable in society and on the streets. It is a tribute to women to help women currently living on the streets;

* An area for pet care, so individuals could keep their beloved pets;

* An area dedicated to safe parking;

* Tiny houses could be considered.  They would be placed in a small section of the facility, but would not replace the short-term transitional housing;

* Safety/Law Enforcement would be provided by the County Sheriff's department as it is county owned property.  Increased patrol by Sheriff's department would be requested to keep grounds as well as surrounding areas safe.  

Other counties are showing success with sanctioned encampments in proper locations outside of neighborhoods.  The following links provide more information regarding how our and other cities can show success in addressing the homeless epidemic.

By signing this petition, you are asking our County Board of Supervisors to act now and offer a safe, clean, environmentally conscious, and fiscally responsible transitional shelter for homeless individuals using an appropriate portion of the county owned Santa Clara Fairgrounds.  This will provide immediate and substantial help to the vulnerable homeless population.

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