Plaza Hotel: back in business supporting homeless

PlazaThe three-story cinder-block Plaza Hotel built in 1961 is back in business as new homeless housing after closing eight years ago.

The City of San Jose acquired the building last year from the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency for $740,000 and used $1.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to get the 47 rooms ready for new tenants near the corner of San Fernando Street and Almaden Avenue.

“This will be interim housing – a stopping point for homeless individuals with jobs or in process of getting jobs – until more permanent housing becomes available,” said Jon White, director of real estate development for Abode Services, which oversaw the rehabilitation and is contracted for five years to manage the facility.

The first tenants expected to move in next month are being screened, White said. The plan is to move about 10 people in per week, taking a couple of months to reach 100 percent occupancy.

Each room can accommodate one person. Most of the rooms have private sinks. Rooms on the north-facing wall have sweeping views of downtown. Those on the southern side have obstructed views of the adjacent Caravan Club.

Tenants will share bathrooms and showers on each floor. ADA units are located on the ground floor because the hotel does not have an elevator, only a staircase to the upper floors.

“It’s going to be safe and dignified – a comfortable place to live for a short time,” White said.

In addition to on-site property management, security and round-the-clock front-desk staffing, two on-site service coordinators and off-site city and county case managers will also assist tenants in securing permanent housing and connecting them to community resources.

“To take some of the pressure off those people just moving in after being homeless, we have a no-visitor policy for the first 30 days,” said Georgette Brown, Abode property manager, who will manage the facility on-site the first few months of its operation. “This gives everyone a chance to stabilize in their new surroundings.”

The Abode team expects the average stay to be between three and six months, though tenants can stay as long as needed to secure long-term housing.

Restoration improvements included new roof, paint, flooring and furnace and renovated bathrooms. The city also improved life safety, adding fire alarms, fire/carbon monoxide monitoring devices, and upgraded hallway lighting.

“The building was in good shape after all those years,” said James Stagi, grants & neighborhood programs administrator for the City of San Jose, who served as project manager for the city.