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©2019, Paid for by Fleming for SJ City Council D2 2020, FPPC# 1420419

The Fleming Homeless Plan

A Hand Up for San José

Pictured with Jonathan is San José State University Lecturer Michael Fallon

 
Background: A Personal Connection

Imagine you just lost your home and are out in the streets for the first time in your life.

I am living proof that many people in our Community are one paycheck away from losing everything.  I was.

 

After a drunk driver hit me, doctors determined that I may never walk again without a medical device.  My company illegally terminated my employment "due to disability," my health insurance was taken from me, and my savings account was drained as I paid for the 24 surgical procedures and the thousands of hours of rehabilitation I needed to recover.  I was rejected for disability benefits and...

I almost lost everything...

 

But I didn't.  I never gave up, even when I felt like I could not go on, and I carved my own path to self-sufficiency with the support and love of others. I started my own business and became extremely active in San José politics to stand up to injustice.

I maintain an unwavering compassion for our vulnerable Community members and am connected to them because of my experience and I have invaluable first-hand knowledge of the crisis today in our City and District 2.

 

I vowed to change the system after it failed me as seen in this quote from my letter to the Social Security Disability Administration,

 

"I will fight to ensure this program is changed so that everyone who needs help will get it and that all bureaucratic corruption is cut out."

 

I have studied this issue in depth for the past four years in partnership with the San José State University Sociology Department / Center for Community Learning & Leadership (CCLL) and as a Commissioner with the City of San José.  

I speak from experience and knowledge when I say...

We Need A New Homeless Plan
 

Current homeless strategies and policies have enabled homelessness in San José because they are based on a backwards approach

The Current Plan Does Not Work:

  1. The end goal is to house only instead of rehabilitating our homeless population to becoming contributing members of society 

    1. Requires a life-long tax subsidy

  2. Takes years to develop and houses only small numbers of people at a time

  3. ​Over-spends resources on people less likely to respond to treatment, forcing those people who could recover with minimal services to become victimized, abused, and part of the system forever.

  4. Is too expensive and unsustainable

    1. Scroll below for breakdown or click here

The “Housing First” methodology does not require the treatment of the underlying causes of homelessness: mental illness and substance abuse, which up to 78% of our current homeless population suffer from as seen in this graphic from the 2019 San José Homeless Census:

The following graphic shows the increase in homelessness in our County since 2016 when the almost $1 Billion Measure A  bond was approved which was touted to reduce homeless by building "affordable housing."

Current Methodology is Expensive and Unsustainable

  • Available funds = $3 to $5.5 Billion (or less)

    • Affordable Housing commitments from Measure A ($1B), Apple ($2.5B), Google ($1B), Facebook ($1B)

    • Exact amount for homelessness is unknown

  • We cannot construct housing for every person under current methods 

    • At $600,000.00 per unit, we need a minimum of $5.9 Billion to construct housing for all homeless residents of Santa Clara County with current methods​​

    • This is a deficit of up to $2.9 Billion in construction costs alone 

    • This price does not include costs of monthly utilities, maintenance, food, medical or psychiatric treatment, and/or other services 

  • Yearly taxpayer subsidies increase over time and are required forever

    • What happens to residents when the tax base leaves or in the event of a financial recession?

  • Current methods also take away funding sources for core services like police, fire, medical, parks, road maintenance and more,

    • Reduces the City's available budget and availability to provide those services

 

All of us have been failed by our state's and county’s inaction to address mental illness and drug abuse.  They have failed to provide the psychiatric hospitals we need to medically treat mental illness, and we are lacking in social workers and fiscally responsible programs to prevent people from living on the streets. 

 

Neighbors are afraid for their safety and do not want their property values impacted so the development of homeless housing near schools, parks, or residential areas is always met with opposition.

 

To stand up for our residents, as Vice Chair of the San José Neighborhoods Commission I led the effort to have our City government, “Review and evaluate current supportive housing facilities…focusing on…the real and perceived impacts to crime, property values, and overall quality of life...Sadly, our representatives rejected this independent study.

The Fleming Homeless Plan listens to our Community members, both housed and homeless, and has incorporated your concerns to address homelessness without raising taxes and without negatively impacting our neighborhoods, schools or safety in San José.  

 

The Fleming Homeless Plan

 

​​We want to get our homeless neighbors off the street and help them get back on their feet with a hand-up, not a hand-out.  We want them to have medical treatment for mental illness and to work toward sobriety.  We want them to find a sense of purpose and worth through a job training and placement programs so they can take personal responsibility for themselves and become contributing members of society.  My five point plan does this and is built on the basic pillars of homelessness theory:

  1. Increase Housing Supply

  2. Prevention

  3. Identification

  4. Services

  5. Self Supportive w/ Safety Net

The first thing my plan calls for is increasing housing supply throughout our City by reducing or removing excess and tedious regulations to create more housing. This will lower the cost of housing across the board, increase tax revenues by broadening the tax base - not increasing rates, and will increase the budget for core services we need like Police, Fire, roads, parks, and other infrastructure improvements.

We need to build homeless specific housing to get people off the streets, cleanup encampments for good, and get people back on their feet. 

We have to realize that homeless people are homeless for reasons as individualistic as themselves and a one size fits all approach does not work.  We need to construct a beautiful, safe and dedicated university-like campus environment, with all the  resources needed to succeed, away from the distractions of the issues that made them homeless in the first place, where they can begin their tailored healing process they endeavor to become self supportive.

 

The university-like campuses in the Fleming Homeless Plan will contain everything needed to succeed including prefabricated dormitories, athletic centers, classrooms, medical facilities, indoor and outdoor kitchens, work spaces, recreation areas, theaters, places to work, onsite security, staff housing, and more to enrich all aspects of our resident's mind, body and soul.  Pets will be welcome as well!

Construction costs will be less than $50,000 per bed, a savings of $440,000,000+ over current methodology for a 800 bed campus.  Private funding from businesses in the Silicon Valley that have already pledged billions to address homelessness will be used to bypass the “Housing First” limitations and provide the required treatment to get people back on their feet, including sobriety.

Here is a visual of the Fleming Homeless Plan:

Below we will expand upon each section of the plan.

   1.  Increase Housing Supply

  1. Reduce fees, regulations, and restrictions so we can build more housing throughout San José,

    1. This will make housing affordable for all income levels

    2. People should not have to rely upon subsidies for the rest of their lives

  2. House our homeless now - erect and construct prefabricated college like campuses for our homeless residents, tailored to the rehabilitory needs of the individual, focusing on sobriety ​

    1. Cost savings of $440,000,000.00 for 800 beds or 1/12th the price (vs $600,000.00 current construction)

      1. More amenities and services provided than current construction costs

    2. Buildings erected in less than a month and warrantied for 50 years

    3. Used by US Armed Forces Personnel overseas & homeless navigation centers in San Francisco, San Diego, Fresno, and more

    4. Use the already pledged private funding sources (Apple, Google, Facebook, Cisco and more) to bypass the “Housing First” regulations and shortcomings

    5. Locations should be city, county, state, and unincorporated land, away from neighborhoods and schools​ where campus expansion in phases may be possible​

  2.  Prevention

  1. Many people become homeless due to circumstances that happen unexpectedly and which they have not planned for including but not limited to:

    1. Medical injury/disability, loss of employment, age discrimination, domestic violence, student loans, family conflicts (LGBTQ+), loss of parents, children who foster out, identity fraud, and more.

  2. Assisting persons on the fringe of losing their home for a specific amount of time is more cost effective for the taxpayer and more humane than allowing that person/family to become homeless

    1. If they become homeless, it costs taxpayers more money to support them and it takes them longer to get back on their feet

  3. Financial assistance needs to be available in the following:

    1. Medical/mental health, sobriety, transportation, and housing payments

    2. Services need to be made readily available

  3. & 4.  Identification and Treatment

For those who are homeless, we will triage based on need and likeliness to respond to treatment.  The quicker they get treatment, the faster they are back on their feet and able to take care of themselves​

  1. Short Term: Likely to Respond Quickly 0 – 6 Months

    1. Who qualifies: those who will respond quickly to treatment, who have exhausted prevention resources, and lost their housing​

    2. Plan: minimal rehabilitation if any required, focus on improving skills for job marketability and employment and complete the goal of the program of becoming self sufficient/supportive

    3. Housing: Temporary housing in studio apartments is free for terms up to six months, with an option to pay for housing after if none can be found on the market

      1. Potentially repurpose existing Permanent Supportive Housing units that do not already have residents ​

      2. Prefabricated buildings as described above with specific interiors for Spartan residents​

    4. Services provided: light medical services with an emphasis on sobriety, intense job/skill training and placement through our network of partners

  2. Intermediate: Those who will take between 6 – 18 Months

    1. Who qualifies: those who will take between six and 18 months to respond to treatment.  Persons in this category are usually dealing with:

      1. Addiction issues,

      2. Mental illness,

      3. Disability and other physical injuries

      4. Lack of skill or education

      5. Other issues which require longer term treatment before job training/placement can begin

    2. Plan: provide our Sharks with the services they need to level-up and become Spartans

    3. Housing: Shelter and rooms at the above mentioned campuses in environments that compliment their journey of self improvement

    4. Services provided: sobriety programs including Medication Assisted Treatment, medical/psychiatric services, group health, job/skill training, English as a Second Language classes, and anything else that we can provide to help our neighbors re-integration with society

  3. Long Term: Not Likely to Respond to Treatment 18+ months

    1. Who qualifies: those with intense cases of mental illness and/or addiction, and/or meet the “chronically homeless” definition

    2. Plan: make comfortable and shelter until county and state psychiatric hospitals open for transfer if appropriate.  Work so they level up to Sharks

    3. Housing: Shelter at campuses, make comfortable, provide medical assistance and limited psychiatric care 

    4. Services provided: sobriety programs, basic life skills, medical/psychiatric services, group health, job/skill training, transitional living care, outdoor sleeping if needed, English as a Second Language classes, and anything else that we can provide to help our neighbors re-integration with society

    5. Our Senior and Disabled Community members fall in this category because we cannot reasonably expect them to go back into the workforce.  Specific living accommodations will be made to give them privacy and good quality of life​

  4. Those Who Do Not Want Help

    1. There will be people who do not want help in any form and there is nothing that we can do for them.

    2. We will be firm, but fair and humane - The Supreme Court has ruled if there are no beds available then encampments are allowed​ on public property

      1. Because this plan provides beds it legally allows for the removal of illegal encampments and facilitates the cleanup of blight

      2. If someone chooses to not participate in the program then they have made their choice 

​   5.  Self-Supportive with Safety Net

  1. Unlike current practice, being self-supportive is the goal of The Fleming Homeless Plan - for all people to have a sense of purpose and worth and to be able to support themselves

  2. Ongoing treatment is made available to people who have already been through the program

  3. Prevent reoccurrences of homelessness by providing assistance to the individual

    1. Ongoing support groups and counseling

    2. Access to medication through county social services

Current Methodology vs. Fleming Homeless Plan

Current Methodology

  • Construction Cost:

    • Unsustainable

    • $94-120 Million per 200 beds

    • Includes basic amenities​

  • Construction Time: Long

    • 2+ years for permits, 2+ years construction​

  • Onsite Services:

    • Optional

  • Sobriety and Mental Health Treatment

    • No​

  • Location:

    • Built in neighborhoods, sometimes near schools

    • Land location is valuable and scarce,

      • Prevents construction of non homeless housing, increasing cost of living for us all

      • Does not provide  revenue and reduces available funding for core services  (Police, Fire, Roads, Parks...)

The Fleming Homeless Plan

  • Construction Cost:

    • Cost effective and efficient 

    • $6.25-12.5 Million per 200 beds

    • Includes premium amenities like fitness center, library, theater, dog park, classrooms & more​

  • Construction Time: Immediate Availability

    • Accelerated Permit, 6 month construction

  • Onsite Services:

    • Required

  • Sobriety and Mental Health Treatment:

    • Yes

  • Location:

    • Build away from schools and neighborhoods 

    • Land location is cost effective and abundant

      • Built on county, state, and/or unincorporated land

      • Allows for increasing supply of housing and lowering cost of living across the board

      • Increased non subsidized housing = funding for improved core services (Police, Fire, Roads, Parks...)

Concurrently, we must demand County and State legislators open mental health hospitals.  We will empower and support our law enforcement to transition mentally ill people to campuses and/or hospitals through conservatorships. 

                                                                               

The Fleming Homeless Plan helps our neighbors in need without increasing taxes by putting politics aside, erecting prefabricated campuses to get people off the streets, treating mental illness and substance abuse, demanding personal accountability, and ensuring all people have a sense of purpose and worth as they work to support and better themselves.

A Special Thanks

This plan would not be possible without the contributions and support of so many people in my life: the academic community at San José State University, doctors, neighborhood associations, government officials, members from our homeless community, law enforcement, first responders, labor union members, our business community and many more.

 

Some I collaborated with intensely and others sparked an idea, I thank you all.

 

A select few are recognized below:

  • My wife and parents for never giving up on me

  • Michael Fallon

    • Former Director, San José State University Center for Community Learning & Leadership, Lecturer, College of Social Sciences

  • Rudy Preston Ph.D.

    • San José State University Asst Professor, Sociology & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

  • Chris Cox

    • San José State University Lecturer AY-B, Sociology & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

  • Michael Zampelli S.J.

    • Santa Clara University Associate Professor​

  • Brenda Gisi

    • Community Leader

  • Pete Kolstad

    • Former SJ Neighborhoods Commission Chair and Community Leader

  • John Semanik

    • Former Neighborhoods Commissioner, Publisher at SanJoseCommunity.com, and President of the Penitencia Neighborhood Association​