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In less than a year, Mountain View builds and opens new 100-unit homeless housing complex

A row of homes at LifeMoves Mountain View, a homeless housing complex officially launching this week. Courtesy LifeMoves.

Calling it an innovative new approach that can swiftly reduce the Bay Area's growing homelessness problem, Mountain View city officials announced Thursday the opening of a new homeless housing project that went from an ambitious idea to a reality in just nine months.

The location of LifeMoves Mountain View at 2566 Leghorn St., an industrial area north of the Monta Loma neighborhood.

The project, called LifeMoves Mountain View, is an interim housing facility at 2566 Leghorn St. that can house about 124 people at a time, stabilizing homeless residents and putting them on the path to permanent housing. The lean project banked on the cheap and quick use of modular, prefabricated homes, bringing the costs down to just $100,000 per unit.

Leaders of the Menlo Park-based nonprofit LifeMoves, which runs the site, said Mountain View doesn't have to be an anomaly either. The virtual ribbon cutting of the project Thursday marked not only the introduction of 100 badly needed homeless housing units, but also a proof of concept. LifeMoves has essentially created a road map for replication, and the hope is that more cities will follow suit.

The origins of the project date back to August, when city housing officials worked with LifeMoves on a way to tap into state funding through California's Homekey program. Though Homekey largely revolved around the concept of cities and counties buying up hotels and motels and converting them into homeless housing, Mountain View took a different tack. Instead of buying a motel, the city found an industrial lot used to store vehicles, razed the site and packed it with small, modular homes.

Though not intended as long-term housing, the LifeMoves housing complex is a big step up from homeless shelters. Individual homes each have locked doors and provide privacy and security for residents, and families living in the complex will have their own bathrooms. Rather than completely pack the site with units, the goal was to create a community with plenty of space for residents to thrive, said Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei.

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"We are introducing an inviting community that has a playground, a dog run, and individual modular units for households including families and their pets," Kamei said.

Giving props to Mountain View for the new homeless housing project during the Thursday ribbon-cutting event was California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said in a prerecorded statement that the city and LifeMoves have created a "shining example" of what can be done to solve homelessness. He noted that the Homekey program has been used to create more than 6,000 homes for tens of thousands of people, and that Mountain View was expeditious in turning the state funding into a real project.

"Like so many other Homekey projects, this one came in on time and under budget," Newsom said. "We're doing what they said couldn't be done -- to unlock thousands of homes for the homeless at a lower cost and a faster pace than ever before."

A family unit at LifeMoves Mountain View. Courtesy LifeMoves.

Dozens of people have already been identified to move in starting next week, said Joanne Price, vice president of real estate and operations for LifeMoves. Once there, clients will have far more than a roof over their heads -- they also will have access to case management, an on-site nurse, mental health care, parenting resources and education programs. The goal is to swiftly get residents stabilized, back on their feet and into other housing in under 120 days, which can be done with a comprehensive suite of services.

By her estimate, about one-third of those who "graduate" from LifeMoves interim housing get qualified for permanent housing, one-third move in with relatives and one-third relocate to a place that's more affordable.

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Bolstering LifeMoves Mountain View has been Santa Clara County, which provides ongoing funding to operate the site, along with hefty philanthropic donations. LinkedIn is providing the money to sponsor a full-time employment specialist to help residents find stable work, while Google's foundation pitched in a $1.5 million grant. Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org, said in a prerecorded video that LifeMoves has worked tirelessly to help those facing homelessness, and praised its approach to stabilizing its clients.

"The LifeMoves team is very importantly pairing the housing together with vital wraparound services," Fuller said. "Things like counseling and employment support and health care to really meet the needs of the people that they're serving."

While the ribbon cutting largely focused on the Mountain View project, LiveMoves CEO Aubrey Merriman made clear that this was just the beginning. He said the same formula -- from finding land to the speedy six-month construction -- can and must be replicated 10 times over in order to stamp out the homelessness problem in its entirety. He described the Thursday celebration as a call to action for cities, counties and businesses to pitch follow in the footsteps of Mountain View, with a goal of raising $250 million for the effort.

"We know that Silicon Valley has a big heart, and we also know that Silicon Valley has a big collective wallet," Merriman said. "So now is the time for people to step up and really allow us to attack homelessness in a real significant way."

LifeMoves' blueprint closely mirrors what happened in Mountain View. In looking for suitable land, the nonprofit recommends a roughly 1-acre site -- preferably with industrial or commercial zoning -- that's close to transit and amenities and at least 500 feet from schools. It also requires a willing city or county to expedite the process, flying through the approval process in just a few months rather than one to two years.

The community area at LifeMoves Mountain View, which will be shared by formerly homeless clients living in interim housing. Courtesy LifeMoves.

Price said there isn't time to be sluggish while the problem gets worse, pointing to the rapid increase in homelessness in Mountain View. The problem can quickly get out of hand, she said, but right now it can be solved.

"If we don't act now, when are we going to act? If we let this problem expand and multiply any further, it's going to be harder to manage," she said. "If it's business as usual and we're going to follow the three to five-year project timelines, how are we going to get out of the situation today?"

More information on the project can found on the LifeMoves website. Anyone looking to donate or volunteer can contact [email protected]

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In less than a year, Mountain View builds and opens new 100-unit homeless housing complex

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, May 6, 2021, 1:31 pm

Calling it an innovative new approach that can swiftly reduce the Bay Area's growing homelessness problem, Mountain View city officials announced Thursday the opening of a new homeless housing project that went from an ambitious idea to a reality in just nine months.

The project, called LifeMoves Mountain View, is an interim housing facility at 2566 Leghorn St. that can house about 124 people at a time, stabilizing homeless residents and putting them on the path to permanent housing. The lean project banked on the cheap and quick use of modular, prefabricated homes, bringing the costs down to just $100,000 per unit.

Leaders of the Menlo Park-based nonprofit LifeMoves, which runs the site, said Mountain View doesn't have to be an anomaly either. The virtual ribbon cutting of the project Thursday marked not only the introduction of 100 badly needed homeless housing units, but also a proof of concept. LifeMoves has essentially created a road map for replication, and the hope is that more cities will follow suit.

The origins of the project date back to August, when city housing officials worked with LifeMoves on a way to tap into state funding through California's Homekey program. Though Homekey largely revolved around the concept of cities and counties buying up hotels and motels and converting them into homeless housing, Mountain View took a different tack. Instead of buying a motel, the city found an industrial lot used to store vehicles, razed the site and packed it with small, modular homes.

Though not intended as long-term housing, the LifeMoves housing complex is a big step up from homeless shelters. Individual homes each have locked doors and provide privacy and security for residents, and families living in the complex will have their own bathrooms. Rather than completely pack the site with units, the goal was to create a community with plenty of space for residents to thrive, said Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei.

"We are introducing an inviting community that has a playground, a dog run, and individual modular units for households including families and their pets," Kamei said.

Giving props to Mountain View for the new homeless housing project during the Thursday ribbon-cutting event was California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said in a prerecorded statement that the city and LifeMoves have created a "shining example" of what can be done to solve homelessness. He noted that the Homekey program has been used to create more than 6,000 homes for tens of thousands of people, and that Mountain View was expeditious in turning the state funding into a real project.

"Like so many other Homekey projects, this one came in on time and under budget," Newsom said. "We're doing what they said couldn't be done -- to unlock thousands of homes for the homeless at a lower cost and a faster pace than ever before."

Dozens of people have already been identified to move in starting next week, said Joanne Price, vice president of real estate and operations for LifeMoves. Once there, clients will have far more than a roof over their heads -- they also will have access to case management, an on-site nurse, mental health care, parenting resources and education programs. The goal is to swiftly get residents stabilized, back on their feet and into other housing in under 120 days, which can be done with a comprehensive suite of services.

By her estimate, about one-third of those who "graduate" from LifeMoves interim housing get qualified for permanent housing, one-third move in with relatives and one-third relocate to a place that's more affordable.

Bolstering LifeMoves Mountain View has been Santa Clara County, which provides ongoing funding to operate the site, along with hefty philanthropic donations. LinkedIn is providing the money to sponsor a full-time employment specialist to help residents find stable work, while Google's foundation pitched in a $1.5 million grant. Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org, said in a prerecorded video that LifeMoves has worked tirelessly to help those facing homelessness, and praised its approach to stabilizing its clients.

"The LifeMoves team is very importantly pairing the housing together with vital wraparound services," Fuller said. "Things like counseling and employment support and health care to really meet the needs of the people that they're serving."

While the ribbon cutting largely focused on the Mountain View project, LiveMoves CEO Aubrey Merriman made clear that this was just the beginning. He said the same formula -- from finding land to the speedy six-month construction -- can and must be replicated 10 times over in order to stamp out the homelessness problem in its entirety. He described the Thursday celebration as a call to action for cities, counties and businesses to pitch follow in the footsteps of Mountain View, with a goal of raising $250 million for the effort.

"We know that Silicon Valley has a big heart, and we also know that Silicon Valley has a big collective wallet," Merriman said. "So now is the time for people to step up and really allow us to attack homelessness in a real significant way."

LifeMoves' blueprint closely mirrors what happened in Mountain View. In looking for suitable land, the nonprofit recommends a roughly 1-acre site -- preferably with industrial or commercial zoning -- that's close to transit and amenities and at least 500 feet from schools. It also requires a willing city or county to expedite the process, flying through the approval process in just a few months rather than one to two years.

Price said there isn't time to be sluggish while the problem gets worse, pointing to the rapid increase in homelessness in Mountain View. The problem can quickly get out of hand, she said, but right now it can be solved.

"If we don't act now, when are we going to act? If we let this problem expand and multiply any further, it's going to be harder to manage," she said. "If it's business as usual and we're going to follow the three to five-year project timelines, how are we going to get out of the situation today?"

More information on the project can found on the LifeMoves website. Anyone looking to donate or volunteer can contact [email protected]

Comments

Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on May 6, 2021 at 7:07 pm
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 7:07 pm

I was homeless for 10 years. And I think this is a terrible idea. You're not solving problems with temporary housing, when the root cause of homelessness is job loss, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, etc. Sure, 100 lucky people will hit the homeless jackpot but it's not sustainable.

What are you doing as a long-term solution? People need either treatment or jobs. Handouts don't help. They only bring more homeless.

Our leaders keep finding ways to squander COVID relief on their own pet projects. I oppose.


Rob G
Registered user
Shoreline West
on May 6, 2021 at 7:29 pm
Rob G, Shoreline West
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 7:29 pm

Where are these units located?


SP Phil
Registered user
Shoreline West
on May 6, 2021 at 9:26 pm
SP Phil, Shoreline West
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:26 pm

Tal Shaya My understanding is that a single person living on the street finds it very difficult or impossible to look for a job--no stable adress, no place to bathe, no place to do laundry, no place to plug in a charger for a cell phone, no internet for job hunting. Short-term housing programs such as LiveMoves are planned to get people in safe housing where they can do all of these things, and where the goal is to move people onward in 120 days or less. Medical help via a nurse on site, mental health care, and education programs help people marshall their own resources and work with case workers to get stabilized and move on. For a homeless family, all these resources including parenting programs make it possible to access exactly the help you list, for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction and other services essential for moving on.


chewie
Registered user
Shoreline West
on May 7, 2021 at 1:24 pm
chewie, Shoreline West
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 1:24 pm

I agree with Tal Shaya. A motel in SF provided by project Homekey was converted into a methamphetamine lab. Drugs kill and not just the drug abuser.

Social programs must be implemented to make sure that the homeless do not remain homeless.

The temporary shelters are helpful, but real change will only happen with social programs to get people off drug abuse.


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on May 7, 2021 at 2:12 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 2:12 pm

I agree with SP Phil, this amazing program will give willing individuals the first step to being permanently housed, find a job and being in our system for social services. Just like the Safe Parking Lots this is not a final destination but a step to get help where needed and wanted. We obviously will not see every unhoused MV person applying, but the people wanting to better themselves get their first try at it.
I also want to congratulate our city leaders, the speedy realization of this plan and the willingness to help our unhoused with 2 projects now is praiseworthy!!!


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on May 7, 2021 at 8:41 pm
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 8:41 pm

SP Phil, I'm not saying there's no benefit whatsoever to this project. But people who want to go back to work will find a way. There are plenty of ways to get help. The real hardcore homeless person isn't well enough to maintain a job. They are the ones who need help.

We have to think about what will really help. The City thought allowing the homeless to camp in residential neighborhoods was compassionate. How'd that turn out? If you want to help the homeless, use the churches. There are several downtown, at street level.


Cfrink
Registered user
Willowgate
on May 7, 2021 at 10:55 pm
Cfrink, Willowgate
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 10:55 pm

The benefit to this kind of program is that it’s a community. And communities always strengthen their inhabitants. The program is multifaceted. People don’t just need housing, they need resources, medical care, psychological care, evaluations, training and education. It’s a lot easier to provide these resources to a community that’s together than it is to 100 people sprawling about thentreeets if the city. I’m certain and saddened by the reality that not everyone will be successful. But many, many people will take this opportunity and do their very best. And every person we can help to get off the streets is a member of our community that enriches us all.


Jenny
Registered user
Monta Loma
on May 8, 2021 at 12:44 pm
Jenny , Monta Loma
Registered user
on May 8, 2021 at 12:44 pm

LifeMoves is an organization that has been supporting families who are at risk of losing their housing or might already be homeless for many years. Yes, they offer temporary shelter, but the most important part of their offering is the variety of supporting services that are also provided - budgeting and finance, job and interview prep, health, etc, etc. They have a good long term record of their clients moving on to their own housing as well.


A
Registered user
Monta Loma
on May 8, 2021 at 1:43 pm
A, Monta Loma
Registered user
on May 8, 2021 at 1:43 pm

This sounds like a wonderful program. I'm impressed by how quick it went from concept to reality. Kudos to all who were involved! It sounds like it's well thought-out, and will likely help many people who really need it right now. Is it the perfect solution for everyone? No. But it's likely that many will benefit from its intentions.Thank-you to those who helped make it happen.


natalien
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 9, 2021 at 9:47 am
natalien, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 9, 2021 at 9:47 am

Tal Shaya is absolutely right! There are more than 150,000 homeless people in CA alone! 100 units is a joke and $100,000 cost per unit is also a joke. #Mountainview city should find out what is the long-term solution for the problem and how can they get people healthcare and job training. As for the affordable housing the city should examine 3D construction technologies that can print a solid unit for $10,000 each. And as Tal Shaya said these people need medical and other needs before they can find an appropriate job. Once they do, the big question is can they afford to pay $2500 for a small apt to live in!!!!! You see the problem needs a system solution otherwise it is all waste of tax payer money!


Activist Socialist
Registered user
Jackson Park
on May 11, 2021 at 4:26 pm
Activist Socialist, Jackson Park
Registered user
on May 11, 2021 at 4:26 pm

Short term band-aids are all well and good, and I don't begrudge the attempt to try and ease the pain currently being felt by the most vulnerable in our community, but it would be *really* nice if city were also making a genuine effort to find long term solutions, such as, I don't know, actually making sure that enough housing gets built. I worry that their actual plan is just "kick all the non-wealthy people out of the city, and call it a day".


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on May 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on May 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Tal Shaya = What 'other commubity' are you a resident of? When I post "my 2 cents" about a Los Altos centered civic problem, I identify myself as a Cuesta Park (MV) resident.

YOU?


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