After almost a decade of planning and years of construction, the Santa Clara County’s Vietnamese-American Service Center will be officially opened in the fall.
“This has been a collaborative effort,” said supervisor Cindy Chavez during a virtual New Year celebration with 60 participants. “This center reflects the relentless commitment in our district to celebrate our diversity. ”
The 30,000-square-foot center at 2410 Senter Road in San Jose, due to be completed this summer, will be the county’s first facility focused on serving the Vietnamese community in South Bay.
The service model of the center and the architecture of the building include extensive feedback from the community.
Interest in a hub for the Vietnamese population was sparked in 2012 after the county’s health department published a study showing that Vietnamese residents in South Bay suffered significant health disparities. Cultural and linguistic barriers also played a large role in preventing access to the county’s services. The effort was led by then supervisor Dave Cortese.
“It shows the vast health disparities and challenges related to mental health, health care and physical health, intergenerational conflicts and difficulties navigating services,” said Chavez.
San Jose is home to the largest Vietnamese population in any city outside of Vietnam. According to the US Census, the community makes up around 11% of the population of San Jose.
Screenshot of the Lunar New Year 2021 virtual festival.
After six months of meetings and surveys in 2016, Santa Clara County approved the construction of the center and a $ 7 million budget to develop a service plan. That same year, San Jose also established a Vietnamese cultural center at the George Shirakawa Senior Center. The city center has offered various services and cultural events over the years.
In 2018, the county awarded a construction contract for $ 33 million to Gilbane Corporation. The center laid the foundation stone in 2019.
Meanwhile, the differences noted by the county in 2012 have continued to have an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among all Asian groups, Vietnamese have seen significantly more cases of the virus after Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the county.
Additionally, Vietnamese business owners feel unsupported due to inaccessible and complicated systems designed to remedy the shutdown process.
With five categories of programs, the center will provide health and personal services that take culture and language into account, the authorities said. It will also be a focal point for the community to gather and celebrate important events like next year’s New Year celebrations.
“So exciting,” said one attendee during the New Year’s event. “Our elders couldn’t wait to see this.”