Foster youth are getting a brand new community center with permanent housing in San Jose — and will have a say in its design.
The Parkmoor Hub, being developed by Allied Housing, will include 81 units of affordable and supportive housing, with half for transition-age foster youth and their children. It’s conveniently located near light rail, buses, San Jose City College, a supermarket and gym.
As of September, there were 816 children in foster care in Santa Clara County, including 302 in San Jose. According to Homeless Management Information System, in the past year, about a third of Santa Clara County unhoused youth and young adults said they had been through the foster care system.
A focus group of 43 transition-age youth are helping develop the look and feel of the Parkmoor Hub, expected to open in 2025 at the corner of Parkmoor and Meridian avenues. The group is asking for a warm, comfortable place with friendly colors and art, as well as an outdoor space for informal meetings, a children’s play area, garden and barbecue area. The hub will replace the existing foster facility at 591 North King Road, which serves current and former foster youth between ages 15 and 24.
Former foster youth Dontae Lartigue and Briana Saldivar, who founded the King Road foster facility, approached Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez about creating a new facility and have been involved in its implementation from the start.
“When you have someone like Supervisor Chavez — who is influential in the community and has the ability and privilege to make change on our behalf — when someone like that listens to you, you feel empowered,” Lartigue said. He is also co-founder of Razing the Bar, a nonprofit that supports foster youth.
Lartigue said foster youth who often get hand-me-downs will feel special that the new hub is built especially for them. He hopes it brings a sense of community.
Santa Clara County has worked to provide more support for foster youth in recent years. In 2019, the Board of Supervisors approved reforms to the foster care system following a critical report by the county’s Joint Foster Youth Task. Last year, the county approved a first-in-the-nation basic income program, providing eligible current and former foster youth with $1,000 a month.
Four floors of housing will rise above Parkmoor Hub’s 17,000-square-foot community center on its 1.62-acre parcel. The housing program will provide case management and subsidies for transportation, food, clothes and utilities. In choosing a site for the new center, the county searched for a property that could accommodate housing.
Chavez said the new facility will offer job training, mental health services, counseling and opportunities to get a GED, as well as opportunities to relax and hang out with other young people. Organizations such as Abode Services will provide on-site support.
“These are our children, and we want to treat them the way we would treat any child of ours,” Chavez said. “They’re vulnerable from homelessness and hunger, and at great risk if we don’t support them. We want to lift these young people up.”
Consuelo Hernandez, director of the Office of Supportive Housing for Santa Clara County, said providing housing is critical as there’s no place for children to go once they exit foster care. She said foster youth told her that although this project alone isn’t going to help everybody, it’s a good start.
“Having them included in the discussions is very meaningful to them,” Hernandez said, “because they’re part of the architects of the solution. It’s very much led by the youth.”