Santa Clara VTA steps up to help solve California homeless crisis

March 2, 2020
Santa Clara VTA provided the land where 40 tiny homes will be used as temporary housing for homeless individuals.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is working to help change what some say has become California’s defining issue: homelessness. With the help of Santa Clara VTA, the city of San Jose, one of the cities where Santa Clara VTA provides transit service, has opened the Bridge Housing Community with 40 “tiny homes” to be used as temporary housing for homeless individuals.  

Santa Clara VTA provided the land the houses are occupying under a “no cost lease” with the city. The site is across the street from Santa Clara VTA’s newly built Berryessa Transit Center, which launches bus service throughout Santa Clara County and is the home of the soon-to-open BART Silicon Valley Extension.

Santa Clara VTA General Manager and CEO Nuria Fernandez, who also serves as chair of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), expressed pride in her agency’s move to provide the land.

“The transit industry has a responsibility to support solutions for more affordable housing because transit is an integral part of the community,” said Fernandez as she toured the complex in advance of the grand opening. “And these solutions are happening with transit agencies all across America in a variety of ways.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom attended the February 27 grand opening ceremony to praise the city and its partners in this project, for stepping up to help solve the state’s homeless crisis. Santa Clara County estimates its homeless population at more than 10,000. Gov. Newsom called the state’s homeless crisis a “disgrace” and called on other cities and local agencies to help resolve the problem on a local level, along with the state government’s support.

In March, public transit leaders from around the country will gather in Washington, D.C., under the direction of APTA to discuss new initiatives, including providing transit agencies with greater flexibility to establish affordable housing as part of Joint Development projects; securing more federal funding for transit projects that incorporate affordable housing elements; and expediting the approval of federal grants for Transit Oriented Development that ensure more housing options for people representing a range of incomes.

“Our industry is proud to be a part of the solution to the critical housing challenges faced by our nation and our own community,” Fernandez said.