Deadline to move arrives for homeless staying at San Jose motel


SAN JOSE — Unhoused residents who have been staying at a San Jose motel paid for by Apple have moved out in accordance with an agreement that they’d be allowed to stay at the site for nine months.

The residents packed up cars, pickup trucks, vans, SUVs and RVs as they left the Casa Linda Motel by a Monday deadline at 2 p.m. 

Brenda Cruz, who had been living at the motel since the beginning of the agreement, said her days were spent collecting cans, bottles, and scrap metal to recycle for cash. Her efforts left little time in the day to search for more stable housing.

“I’m not a procrastinator. I like to get my stuff done. But it’s hard sometimes,” said Cruz.

Cruz had previously been living along Component Drive in north San Jose, at a large, undeveloped parcel of land owned by Apple. The encampment grew steadily over time. By summer 2021, 50 to 60 people were living on the property.

Cruz has found somewhere to go. She will be sleeping in her car at a safe parking program hosted by a South Bay church.

By August 2021, Apple began clearing out the inhabitants, but agreed to pay for more than 50 residents to stay at Casa Linda for nine months. The company contracted with HomeFirst, a non-profit based in San Jose, to oversee the process and provide case management services for a total of 12 months. 

The effort reportedly cost Apple “millions” of dollars.

HomeFirst CEO Andrea Urton said of the 56 people housed at the motel, eight found permanent housing Another ten were forced out due to rules violations, while four more ended up in jail.

“There’s only eight people out of 56. But those eight lives have been transformed. So we can take a look at when nonprofit and for-profit partner, beautiful things can come from it,” said Urton.

Urton said the remaining 25 tenants at the motel have been offered beds at the organization’s emergency shelters, citing the lack of housing options in the South Bay.

When asked if there was any consideration to giving those people more time, Urton replied, “They’re going to get case management through August, so there actually is more time. As I stated, everyone has a housing plan, so we will continue to support them on that housing plan through the end of August.” 

Gail Osmer, a local housing advocate, said people who are unhoused tend to avoid emergency shelters, which lack privacy and freedom.

“They’re gonna go to the neighborhoods. And people don’t want that. It’s a very frustrating situation that’s been going on here for months and months,” said Osmer.

Shaunn Cartwright, also a homeless advocate, said people from the large encampment near Mineta San Jose International Airport we taking up what little open housing is available.

When it comes to Apple, Cartwright did not mince words.

“This is shameful,” she said. “This is Apple abandoning people. They’re abandoning people when there are no options.”

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