This article was posted on Wednesday, Jul 26, 2023

To: Homelessness Task Force

From: Business and Housing Network for San Jose

At BAHN-SJ, we were very pleased to see you assist in leading the community for Mayor Mahan’s Homelessness Task Force. As your effort is considering appropriate Success Metrics for managing our homelessness crisis, please consider some of the metrics we, at BAHN-SJ, think are relevant.

Unsheltered Homelessness Success Metrics

1. Number of Shelter Beds necessary to meet homelessness population needs (and address Boise v. Martin)

Comment: We believe 10,000 shelter beds using Sprung-Structures (SS) on County or City land that already has asphalt or concrete can save money and avoid a concrete foundation installation and provide immediate relief to our homeless neighbors. Our research has shown that a relocation of all inhabitants of creeksides, sidewalks and parks can be accomplished within 6 months using Sprung-Structures.

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2. Establish a reasonable fixed cost/client

Comment: Our research suggests that a target of $5,000/client for the Sprung Structure (SS) is doable. But of course, that’s not the full cost. Our research suggests:

* Target of $5,000/client for: build out of Spring Structures, dining hall, HVAC, cots, bedding, utilities.

* Create a target for ongoing services (mental health, rehab, job training, security of both surrounding neighborhood and inside SS)

3. Expand baseline homelessness metric to include time as well as population.

Comment: The goal of alleviating homelessness is to minimize both the number of unhoused and duration of homeless periods, and a headcount-only metric does not provide us with that data. In fact, the current headcount-only metric biases solutions toward more costly Permanent Supportive Housing Solution, which may be appropriate for certain clients, but not necessary for someone who’s only homeless for a few days out of the year.

4. Clearly define success of services such as rehab and mental health.

Comment: Many of our unsheltered suffer from mental illness and addiction and cannot be self-sufficient. Our research suggests that certain types of counseling and rehab treatments might be successful in creating independence and enabling long term permanent housing. As a result, interior metrics could include: how many can fulfill jobs, how many can move successfully to permanent housing, how many can contribute back to their community developing a sense of self-worth.

5. Identify security resources necessary and security cost/client for: surrounding community, residents of SS and previously frequented encampments.

Comment: As seen in PSH and at the shelter of 7-Trees security is a critical component of living together. Establish how much additional security is necessary to accompany these solutions, on a security cost/client. Our research suggests that people often feel unsafe in shelters and surrounding communities also feel unsafe. There will be a need to create specialty zones for: families, youth, LGBTQ, and single women. Internal success metrics could include: no 911 calls and no fires, no camping, air quality improvements in San Jose.

Homelessness Prevention Success Metrics

1. Determine how many renters would benefit from a San Jose rental voucher program to prevent increases in homelessness.

Comment: In order to stop further homelessness residents, need support to stay in their homes. Our research shows that often times a rental voucher for partial rent payment can keep them in place. Internal success metrics could include: reduction in 3-day notices to pay, reduction in ‘filed’ evictions based on non-payment of rent.

Please let me know if you would like to have a deeper conversation, happy to help.

Thank you for your time and all the best as you tackle one of our most pressing issues.


Irene Smith, JD, PhD

President — Business & Housing Network for San Jose