The city of San Jose opened a newly-converted hotel meant to create stable housing for the unsheltered in hopes of closing the vicious cycle that comes with sweeping out homeless encampments.
On Friday, many new residents of the Arena Hotel on Alameda in San Jose. Those moving in described leaving a nightmare life on the streets and landing in a real-life dream.
“Before coming here, I had an incident where I was being harassed by somebody,” said resident Kayloni. “And my campsite was burned down. I have been beaten up. Jumped. robbed, it was crazy’”
The arena had a grand opening Thursday of the $46 million interim housing project, unveiling 90 units,10 double-occupancy, providing support services, and, a crucial element — allowing pets.
“I was on the street for, like, 20 years. Really, they brought me back to reality. And I was in a coma. Me and my dog, my best friend in the whole wide world. They brought him in too and he’s great ! We love it,” said new resident Victoria.
The Arena Hotel is one of five Project Homekey conversions financed by state and local funding measures.
Despite those efforts, there are still a lot more people to help, but officials, and residents say it’s a solid step toward permanent affordable housing, and hope for the future.
“There’s a shower. There’s a bed. I’m realizing, you know what ? We don’t have to be on the streets. We’re better than that! Lot better than being on the streets,” said Victoria.
“The only thing I was waiting for to have permanent visitation was permanent residency, and this is just a stepping stone to that,” said Kayloni.
That’s the key to this solution. Not only providing shelter but services and counseling to go beyond just escaping the streets but to build, or rebuild, a life going forward.