“Hey, do you have any parsley?”

I looked over my shoulder at the two men I had just took a wide berth of. One man was holding a bulging black garbage bag, full of empty plastic bottles and cans. He held it at arm’s length, inspecting it for drippage. I stopped and turned towards them.

The other man was shorter than the other, wearing a wool plaid shirt over a black t-shirt that read, “Budweiser, the King of Beers.” Both men wore soiled and tattered baseball caps from different teams and their general appearance was dishevelled.

By the direction they were walking, it looked like they were heading to the homeless encampment further down the road, under the highway underpass.

The two men looked at me, waiting for an answer while I was wondering if they actually meant “parsley” or if that was code for marijuana.

“No, I don’t have any,” I apologized.  They frowned and I frowned and we turned and resumed our journeys.

Oddly, parsley is believed to have many health benefits. It  inhibits tumor formation, promotes carbohydrate metabolism, reduces inflammation, strengthen’s the immune system, and even strengthen bones.

Did they really say, “parsley?”

San Jose’s Transitional Housing

Lately, I have wondered when is the best time to actually contribute to the needs of the homeless. I generally give to organizations such as CityTeam.org or SecondHarvest.com but on the occasion I come across someone who could use immediate help for food or gloves.

Not far from where I encountered this pair, the City of San Jose has announced plans for homeless housing in the old Plaza Hotel. The city council agreed, by vote to acquire the seven years shuttered building and convert it into temporary apartments. The project would run for five years. The plan still requires the approval of the building’s owners and the California state finance department.

San Jose has other plans for homeless housing, as well. They want to purchase and renovate a parking lot off of Almaden Blvd on Balback St and convert it into a multi-income housing complex. Mixing downtown workers, people in the arts community and chronically homeless. Let’s hope there’s a bbq pit!

Also on the city council’s approved list are 16 modular units for a “transitional community” of about 100 individuals. The units will feature shared bathrooms and kitchens.

Yet another building to be repurposed to house the homeless is the Santa Clara Inn, off the Alameda west of highway 880. Police describe the current facility as “a hub of criminal activity. 27 of the 56 units are ear marked for homeless. The use of the other 29 units is uncertain.

The Santa Clara Inn is one of five motels with the highest amount of reported criminal activity, said police Sgt. Enrique Garcia. There were 202 calls for service in five years, and 24 percent of the reported incidents resulted in an arrest or citation. Incidents included public disturbances, narcotics and prostitution.

Seeming plentiful, these plans will barely scratch the surface of housing need for the 4,000 estimated homeless in San Jose. However, it could be a welcome resources for the 2,000 people who are allotted a housing subsidy but cannot find available units.

 

 


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San Jose approves mobile showers for homeless, looks to new housing projects

SAN JOSE — Continuing efforts to tackle homelessness, the City Council has approved a mobile shower and laundry service for the homeless, and is poised this week to approve the purchase of two properties for a future affordable housing development. The two proposed sites…

Tiny Houses: A Big Idea to End Homelessness

In Austin, Texas, a village of 200 tiny houses is being built for the homeless. In upstate New York, Rochester Greenovation has designed a prototype for small-scale individualized shelters. “Homeless No More Survival Pods” have been built in Utah, micro-pods in Florida, miniature homes in Wisconsin and mini mobile houses in California.