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County expands homeless programs while searching for new shelter

Original post made on Aug 26, 2014

Faced with a shortage of beds to accommodate the county's homeless population this coming winter, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $1.2 million for various programs targeting its neediest residents, including agreements with Palo Alto's busy but cash-strapped nonprofit, InnVision Shelter Network.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 3:55 PM

Comments (29)

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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Look for an uptick in crime Palo Alto as we take on the Sunnyvale homeless.


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Posted by Compassion
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 26, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Women and families with young children should be the priority. Also a brief assessment as to why they are homeless. For those who have chosen to live on the street (yes, there are people, both men and women, who refuse to participate in our society that requires people to pay for their own dwellings), they can continue to live as they wish - on the street.

For those that have suffered bad luck, poor decisions, or job loss, but are trying to get back on their feet, they deserve our help and compassion. Let's open our churches, auditoriums, community centers, and even school gymnasiums to provide shelter for women and families that are truly trying to get back on their feet. They can check in at 7:00pm, and leave by 7:00am. That's 12 hours of warmth and safety to enable them to look for jobs.


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Posted by Compassion
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 26, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Clarification: from 7:00pm to 7:00am they can rest and bathe in at least a sink, so they can be ready to look for a job during the day.


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Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

Dear Mr/Ms Recycle: Look for an uptick in our morality; charity; and feel good indices as we in Palo Alto take on the responsibility Jesus gave when He said: "As you do to the least of thy brethren you do unto Me."


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Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2014 at 11:20 am

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

Dear Mr/Ms Compassion: I note a very traditional-- yet highly sexist-- POV in your statement that "Women and families with young children should be the priority." What have you got against single homeless folks? You don't think we suffer enough? Or don't deserve help because our homelessness is our own fault?

I note in your two following sentences-- "Also a brief assessment as to why they are homeless. For those who have chosen to live on the street (yes, there are people, both men and women, who refuse to participate in our society that requires people to pay for their own dwellings), they can continue to live as they wish - on the street." that you see a place for judgement of people's decisions.

Is there something wrong with a woman deciding that she'd rather live in a shelter or her car than put up with psychological abuse; sexual abuse; or physical abuse where she's been staying? Who are you to pass judgement on people's life decisions? Did you ever think that the decisions of cracker-jack take over artists like Mitt Romney have disappeared (off shored)many jobs and going homeless is not so much a choice as an attempt to survive?

Why not do something to move Palo Alto (and other cities) off their collective duffs and build the "affordable housing" so obviously lacking hereabouts? If it had been built in previous years we would not have the crushing lack of it we now have. If we continue to let greed for rising land values rule-- we will most assuredly have these same problems--only worse-- in succeeding years.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]


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Posted by traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

if i don't get some freaking help here soon I'M going to be joining the homeless soon...I am mid the divorce from hell [Post removed due to disrespectful comment]....i have PTSD and can't do a lot of computer/phone/communication things people TAKE FOR GRANTED and assume i can...i have severe nerve damage/spinal stenosis...but you can't SEE it...i just can't use my limbs (especially my arms/hands/fingers) like others...and the pain is exhausting 24/7/365...so i need a human with tech skills and good communication skills ...i've needed one for two years...no one believes me...now i'm out of money to pay them (i tried taking in homeless people off the internet ...they didn't do much beyond sitting on my couch and drink beer till i kicked them out and/or paid for their tickets out of town)....IF InnVision has SKILLED homeless who can help....i have room and bath and can take more in on airbed in living room BUT...i have very very very specific disabilities myself: NO ONE with chemicals/scents can be in my house...my illnesses/overreactively to them all is awful...i dont' mind dirt, i dont' mind pets (even though i'm allergic..i have easy-clean floors, laundry, shower, even pool..that i can't afford..i even have dance floor..of course that's where they'd have to put the airbeds if i took in more than one....let them know


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Posted by traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Chuck Jagoda..i just now read your comments..BRAVO SIR...where are the others like us in this fascist town!


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Posted by traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

[Post removed due to excessive and/or repetitive post by same poster]


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Posted by Compassion
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 27, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Chuck:

I have nothing against singles - I simply said I thought women AND families with children should be given priority. I should have made my opinion more clear - women and children are much more vulnerable on the street, hence my belief they should be given priority for shelter space. I never said men, or singles of either sex, should be denied space.

I certainly never said anything about homelessness being anyone's "fault," so I refuse to take that bait.

I also didn't say, imply, or mean a woman should stay in an abusive situation.

Not sure what your angle is, but it certainly doesn't help the homeless.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2014 at 8:53 am

Santa Clara County is large with Palo Alto at the northernmost extremity (try driving to County HQ offices down in San Jose sometime). Why county Supervisers insist on bringing more homeless and homeless services to Palo Alto is beyond me. How about central locations, near transit, less expensive areas, especially downtown San Jose. That makes more sense than contorting to try to jam in homeless here in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Caradag
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm

1.2 million isn't going to go very far in regards to renting or leasing real estate.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

An article in the SJM on this subject pinpointed Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto as possible locations. There was no mention of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, central San Jose, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley. Why are specific cities targeted and when others are not targeted.
Reality 1 is that Palo Alto does not have space - it is built border to border. If you go south in the county there is extensive unbuilt land, or land that is "for lease" for a very long time.
Reality 2 is that available space in other areas is being converted to businesses which result in added tax base to the cities. A homeless shelter does not add tax bases - it reduces tax base. The Agnew center in San Jose is being rebuilt for schools so that is a good upgrade for that property.

My best idea is the old Safeway in Mountain View in the San Antonio complex. The building is just sitting there empty. It could also be the new FRY's. It is centrally located.

Cubberly needs to be converted back to a school use - it is centrally located in an area with high use for children, even after school for all age of bands - music. Any area that is high use for children and teens is off limits for homeless.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 2, 2014 at 9:06 am

It is now coming into the fall / winter time period. The city of San Jose is tying to clear the homeless camps on the Coyote Creek. I have observed homeless in San Francisquito Creek. Sunnyvale has shut down the armory to turn it into a tax assessment site.

This brings to mind the Agnew center on Zanker in San Jose which sat empty for a number of years while it was raining and cold outside. It is now going to be converted into a school to support the local growth in the area.

It is time to review the county and state owned facilities in the county which are not being used. There are many properties which could be temporarily converted for the winter season. This includes areas for storage of equipment which can be moved to a different location.
This is a county/state issue and there are facilities which are available for temporary use. City budgets should not be expected to be used for this purpose - cities are trying to solve their infrastructure problems.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

@ resident 1: Portola Valley is in San Mateo County, not SCCo.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Note on community centers - Sunnyvale determined that the use of their community center was inappropriate for the purpose of sheltering the homeless. I have been to their community center - it is extremely well done with a theatre, senior center, gym, and meeting rooms. I get their point here.

Use of churches - note that churches have to maintain the upkeep of their facilities the same as anyone else. They have to pay for insurance which qualifies how the property is used. Throwing that out as a given disregards the whole budget process the church has to work with, as well as the added security required to house people in their facilities who are not members of the church. When you house people in a facility it is subject to increased wear and tare.

Compassion is just throwing out anything that comes to mind with no thought to the insurance and financial requirements involved in this matter. If compassion had a number of people in their house who were not family members or known people then they would be very uncomfortable and it would be a full time job to coordinate the whole event.

Again - the county has properties that are not currently being used which can be allocated for this purpose. The organization that is conducting the search should have the capability to know and review the listings of available properties. That is what they are getting paid for. And if county property then you are not renting or leasing - you are just covering the cost for utilities and security. People have to be paid to be there all night with the people - that is what the money is suppose to be used for.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Another story in the SJM concerning the homeless - just story - no conclusions. I an concerned that there always stories and no conclusions - like we are paying people to do something but they are floundering. Maybe we are being painted into a corner if we view this as a county problem. It occurred to me that Candlestick Park could be maintained over the winter before tear down. It has extensive bathroom facilities in tunnels and lower covered areas that should now be vacant. It also has extensive food preparation areas. Anything that can provide coverage should be good for the cold rainy season. I am not suggesting the field - though that would be useful on good days for activity and exercise. That is in San Mateo County but due to size could hold a lot of people.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:49 am

Article in the SJM today on the sale of the Agnews Center to the Santa Clara School District. The important fact is that the Agnews Center was part of the inventory of the California Department of General Services which oversees the disposition of surplus property.

That is the starting point for a search for a location for the homeless people. Check if the Countys have a similar listing - or properties included in that listing.

Yes - many problems associated with this as the state has to provide the insurance and over-site of the people while on the property. The property will be subject to wear and tear. Someone has provided funding to the non-profits who are in the search - who is providing the funding for the insurance and over-site once the people are located on a property.

This is not a city funded issue - it is a county / state funded issue.



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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper,RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Resident 1:
You obviously have a lot of feeling about the homeless issue based on the multiple postings. I would love to update you on the situation in Santa Clara County.

There are a few facts that are incorrect. Such as: "Sunnyvale has shut down the armory to turn it into a tax assessment site". The site is being used to build low income housing by 2 organizations. One will have 40+ units specifically designated for the homeless.

The National Guard owned that building for years. It stopped owning it in 2012. SCC paid for it to remain open for the 4 winter months from 2013-2014. A Task Force was then convened to find another building. We met monthly to find a suitable building to replace the Armory. The homeless who stayed there come from Northern SCC. They have family,jobs, social services in this area. Sending them to southern SCC would be mean and inappropriate. What's wrong with Palo Alto who has 8 billionaires living here? You must make enough money to live in PA. Why would you begrudge those who are less lucky than you living here? Many of them grew up in PA. Many have mental health issues and are on mental health disability.

SCC has the 4th largest # of homeless in the US. 7,613. There is NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The Armory only housed up to 150 homeless folks. Many were turned away to sleep in theh 30-40 degree weather. 6 of them died last year due to hypothermia.

SCC Supervisor Joe Simitian has been engaged for months to address the urgent needs for this winter. He and other org. have been looking for months for an affordable and appropriate building to retrofit as a winter shelter. Finding a place is not as simple as you make it out to be. There are many govt. regulations that are involved to use the space. Then the time to retrofit it by volunteers from agencies like Habitat for Humanity and corporations. Students from Univ. of Washington State came to help retrofit the We Hope Shelter in East Palo Alto.

By the way I assume you know that the long-standing Hotel de Zink program in Palo Alto consists of 12 rotating churches housing 15 homeless for up to 3 months. Again a small number.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I am aware that there are many county buildings that are not being used at this time. The county should be reviewing which buildings could fit this need. I would suggest that the fairgrounds have many buildings that could temporarily fill this need during the winter months.
I keep seeing statements of the need resolution is spotty. Try the fairgrounds - many empty buildings there.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 21, 2014 at 8:28 am

I have relatives in local government offices. The County and State are moving people out of buildings that are no longer up to spec for earthquake and other issues. Those buildings are slated to be sold, and torn down and replaced with buildings that will use modern building materials and be up to spec. There is an inventory of those buildings - they can be used during the winter since there will be no tear down until the spring.
The people at the top of this activity should be coordinating the use of those buildings. The people at the bottom of this activity have no authority to coordinate those activities.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I agree with Lynn Huidekoper. We owe these poor people our compassion, not just some heartfelt words. We should open up our new library for them to stay at.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

@Sue - what would really be compassionate, is doing something yourself instead of offering shared resources. Maybe you have an extra bedroom you could offer to someone in need?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Gee Sue - compassion is a great word. If that was the ticket then the county would exercise compassion and open the many government owned facilities that are not being utilized - like the fair grounds which has many buildings that have extensive bathrooms, space, heating, and kitchens, along with a huge parking lot.

So are you offering up the new library at Embarcadero? How about the Art Center? How about all of the people that use those facilities on a regular basis?

I am fully aware of the financial and insurance liability required for the housing of homeless in churches. Each church has a budget for insurance liability and general maintenance. Before any single church can exceed their budget they have to clear that with their parent organization who will have to provide the financial back-up. All organization have complex requirements to meet given their regular church members.

People keep using compassion like a free ticket but the realities of housing the homeless is a costly event for the provider.

I have suggested many avenues to explore, along with specific county and state locations that are appropriate for this use. SO- the state and county need to exercise their compassion to support this activity.

If the people in charge keep picking sites that need extensive re-work - as the RN has pointed out then they are looking in the wrong place. They are creating a no-win situation which is incorrect.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Regarding the Opportunity Center - I have often wondered why it isn't used as transitional vs. permanent housing. It seems like many more people could be helped if the goal was to use the Center could be used as site to help people in the short term and move them into permanent housing rather than living at the OC forever...


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Compassion is not just a word, it is also a feeling from the heart. Palo Alto could and should share its new library at Mitchell Park. Also the refurbished one on Newell (Rinconada), when it is open. Yes, also Lucie Stern and the Art Center. Also the Woman's Club on Homer. Our City Hall, too. Menlo Park should open up those empty car dealerships on El Camino. There are probably many other places in Menlo Park; maybe Lynn H. can inform us. We should all pitch in.

Palo Alto talks a good game, but we rarely walk our talk.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Sue - this is not about individual people pitching in. It is about supplying beds, food, security people at night, and a place large enough to accommodate the beds, food, bathrooms, showers, etc. I cannot figure out why you think that facilities that we have just spent a lot of money refurbishing should be stripped back down.

Is there some reason that you do not think the fairgrounds are not a good place?
There are obvious choices - why is Sue and the RN not exploring those locations?
Joe Simitian should be helping with that - it is a logical choice. Don't keep passing up the discussion of the logical choices.


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Posted by Cybele
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

With the rain and winter weather, we will probably have some people who are unsheltered die. This situation is not tenable. The Holiday season will be a sad time when homeless people die in our community. If you care, please come to a meeting at 1 next Sunday, December 7, 2014 at the University Lutheran Church, at the corner of Stanford Avenue and Bodoin St. in College Terrace, Palo Alto, CA. 94306. At least the parking Ban has been rescinded, and those who do not have homes can sleep out of the rain in their cars. Churches can allow the unhoused to park in their parking lots, but those without vehicles will either find some type of shelter or they will die, just like India. America has failed her poor, and Santa Clara County has failed too.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 22, 2014 at 7:20 am

I was just reading the stream on City Hall - how about the bottom floor of the garage? That way the PACC can claim they are doing something for the homeless. They can install portable bathrooms for the duration. And it is not private property - it is city/county property.

As to sleeping in cars you still have to provide bathrooms - how about the baseball area in the baylands. They have an area to provide food.
Those are temporary fixes. People sleeping in cars in residential areas still have to go to the bathroom and that is where you get into trouble - people reliving themselves on the street or your property.

There is also a problem that many homeless do not want to stay in organized housing because they can't smoke - or drink. That prohibition puts a number of people on the street which you will not be able to help.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

The county is providing the funding and therefore has to approve the expenditure of that funding. As well as the individual cities that are providing some areas of relief.

You need to identify who those people are.

You have a county supervisor for one who should be applying pressure for the use of county facilities (fairgrounds) but you still need someone in the individual cities who will approve the allocation of funds to support an activity. So who is hat person in Palo Alto? Who is the go-to person on the PACC / city management.

Talking about India is no help here - you need to focus on how to get to the solution and who are the people who will approve the allocation of funds. You need a specific plan and how to execute it within the parameters of the county. Focus on realistic resolution.


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