After delays, California unveils first site of state tiny home project to relieve homelessness

Oct 11, 2023, 5:18 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An abandoned office park in Sacramento will be the site of the first group of 1,200 tiny homes to be built in four cities to address California’s homelessness crisis, the governor’s office announced Wednesday after being criticized for the project experiencing multiple delays.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is under pressure to make good on his promise to show he’s tackling the issue. In March, the Democratic governor announced a plan to gift several California cities hundreds of tiny homes by the fall to create space to help clear homeless encampments that have sprung up across the state’s major cities. The $30 million project would create homes, some as small as 120 square feet (11 square meters), that can be assembled in 90 minutes and cost a fraction of what it takes to build permanent housing.

More than 171,000 homeless people live in California, making up about 30% of the nation’s homeless population. The state has spent roughly $30 billion in the last few years to help them, with mixed results.

Under Newsom’s plan, Sacramento will receive 350 homes, Los Angeles will get 500, San Jose will get 200 and San Diego will get 150. But seven months after the announcement, those homes haven’t been built, and the state has yet to award any contracts for builders, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Newsom’s administration said the state is “moving with unprecedented rate” on the project and will finalize the contracts this month, with plans to break ground at the Sacramento location before the end of the year. Officials also pointed to a new law signed by Newsom in July to streamline construction of tiny homes.

“When it comes to projects like this, it’s just not overnight,” Hafsa Kaka, a senior advisor to Newsom, said at a news conference Wednesday. “There’s no holdup. We’ve been continuing the momentum.”

On Wednesday, city leaders said 175 tiny homes will be placed at the 13-acre vacant office park, part of which will eventually be built into a medical campus with treatment beds, a health center and other services run by WellSpace Health, a nonprofit health system.

“This is going to be a whole person approach,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday. “It’s going to help thousands of people who are going to benefit because of the comprehensive nature of the approach here.”

Sacramento and the state have also agreed to place the other 175 tiny homes at the California state fairgrounds.

San Jose this month has secured a 7.2-acre lot owned by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for its 200 homes. Newsom’s administration on Wednesday didn’t say when it would start on the projects in Los Angeles and San Diego.

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After delays, California unveils first site of state tiny home project to relieve homelessness