Activists oppose Google’s downtown San Jose campus plan in face of homeless deaths

SAN JOSE — Activists opposed to Google’s plan for a downtown
San Jose campus showed up at one of the search company’s newly
acquired parcels Wednesday morning to flag attention to the plight
of people who will be displaced and a sharp rise in homeless
deaths.

“In San Jose, they have money and the resources for what they
want and projects that make people rich, (but they’re) failing
the most vulnerable and the poorest,” the Rev. Scott Wagers, a
pastor for the CHAM Deliverance Ministry, said at a press
conference Wednesday in front of property recently purchased by
Google at the corner of San Fernando and Autumn streets.

“People on the street feel totally abandoned because you look
around and see all the wealth,” Wagers said.

Wagers noted that while the city is seemingly preoccupied with
helping Google advance its plans, he doesn’t believe there is as
much urgency in helping the powerless.

At least 135 homeless people died in Santa Clara so far this
year, according to figures by the Santa Clara County Coroner. A
2017 report by the Santa Clara County Coroner
found homeless deaths increased 164 percent,
from 50 in 2011 to
132 deaths in 2016.

According to the coroner, 157 homeless people died in 2017.

Wagers and activists with Serve the People San Jose and the
Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County say their public
records request for deaths between December 2017 and November 2018
showed 157 deaths over that period.

Living without reliable shelter has major impacts on one’s
health and life expectancy. The chronically homeless have an
estimated lifespan of 42 to 52 years, compared to 78 years for the
general population, according to the National Coalition for the
Homeless.

Ramon Navarro Johnson, 59, has been homeless several times since
high school. He sees the sale of city-owned land to Google as a
bellwether for the region’s economically vulnerable.

“Property values are going to go up, and the disabled like
myself are going to be priced out,” said Johnson.

At the press conference, he and other activists called on Google
to cancel its plan for the 50-acre transit village and donate the
properties to a community trust dedicated to affordable
housing..

Wagers said while the city has housing projects in the pipeline,
it isn’t acting quickly enough to help people suffering in the
meantime.

“The pipeline is not going to save lives,” Wagers said,
adding that Google properties should be used as temporary,
sanctioned encampments.


A city-commissioned study
estimates the development will
generate 25,000 new jobs, a 65 percent increase in the number of
workers in downtown San Jose.

Google has said the project will include community benefits,
which would be hammered out in a development agreement between the
city and company.

The company has also contributed $15.5 million to San Jose
nonprofits since 2014.

“We remain open to discussions with city staff on how Google
resources could be used to support the community,” said Javier
Gonzalez, Google’s public policy manager for the South Bay.
“While those conversations are happening, we’ll continue to
work with local non-profit partners like PATH, Downtown Streets
Team, Destination Home, and more, who focus on aiding the homeless
in San Jose and the greater Bay Area.”

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council approved
two sites to build 80 tiny homes
, which would serve as
temporary shelters for homeless people while they wait for a
permanent place to live.

Although city representatives didn’t immediately respond to a
request for comment, they previously have noted community benefits
to be paid for by Google will include affordable housing.

Contact Thy Vo at 408-200-1055 or tvo@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Activists oppose Google’s downtown San Jose campus plan in face of homeless deaths