Supervisors vote to fund North County shelter

Grant will provide beds in East Palo Alto to serve Palo Alto, other Santa Clara County residents

An East Palo Alto shelter will open its doors to Palo Alto and other northern Santa Clara County homeless people with help from a $76,650 grant, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has announced.

The funding, provided by voter-approved sales tax Measure A, will allow East Palo Alto's Project WeHOPE shelter to dedicate five beds to northern Santa Clara County residents. The supervisors approved the funding on April 15.

The cross-county funding is an attempt to mitigate some of the loss of shelter services in northern Santa Clara County after InnVision's Clara-Mateo Alliance 70-bed shelter, then located on the grounds of the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in Menlo Park, closed on April 30, 2011. The shelter building was seismically unstable; the VA planned to add sports fields and recreational facilities on the site for its veterans.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian has urged the board to fund a north county shelter.

"The point is that these folks are homeless. And the only large scale homeless shelter we have in northern Santa Clara County just closed its doors for good.

"We need a Plan B, and we need it fast. Project WeHOPE is only a stone's throw away from the county line, and they want to be part of the solution. Clearly, this is a win-win," he said.

The funding will ensure the five beds at Project WeHOPE are dedicated 365 days a year to residents whose last known address was in Santa Clara County. The funds will also pay for case management services to help the homeless transition back into the mainstream community, the board said in a statement.

Project WeHOPE is a nonprofit organization located in neighboring San Mateo County, run by East Palo Alto native and pastor Paul Bains. The shelter has been open since 2009 and provides food, overnight shelter, financial literacy classes and case management services that range from medical and dental care to job placement and assistance with housing or transportation.

Bains approached Simitian about the cross-county shelter in fall 2013. Simitian and Bains had both supported working across county lines to fund the Clara-Mateo shelter. Simitian encouraged Bains to apply for funding through Measure A, which is devoted to specific funding priorities, including services for the homeless.

"Measure A funding seemed like a long shot at the time, but we made the cut," Bains said in a statement. "I'm so pleased to have this opportunity to serve folks from Santa Clara County. I'm grateful to Supervisor Simitian for realizing that a regional problem needs regional solutions, and grateful to the county for its support."

Simitian said the shelter marks a welcome shift in a policy that largely focused on South County needs.

"San Jose is the geographic, political and population center of Santa Clara County. I understand that. But I represent the North County. Representing a part of the county that is slightly removed from that center can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to ensuring folks have access to the services they need. The work we'll be doing with Project WeHOPE will help to ensure the homeless of northern Santa Clara County can get the services they need locally," Simitian said.

Project WeHOPE's application was one of 17 approved from a list of 98 applicants for Measure A funding.


Like this comment
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

This makes no sense. 5 beds to replace 70! And it's restricted to Santa Clara residents, so residents of East Palo Alto won't even benefit!

What about the San Mateo residents, including those in East PA, using the shelter now - will they be kicked out?

This would be for the ENTIRE Santa Clara Country - 5 beds?!!!!
What is there to celebrate? What am I missing?

Like this comment
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Alicia
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm


I think you are misunderstanding the article. Project WeHOPE is a 55 bed shelter. 5 of the beds are being designated to Santa Clara County. This does not cause San Mateo County to miss out on anything. It is a blessing to both counties. Homeless people need assistance and when you have two counties this close to each other, it is not unusual for people to cross county lines. They go to where the beds are. What a wonderful asset to both counties.

Like this comment
Posted by Pastor Paul
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Nat, Thank you for your interest in the Homeless regardless of the County they come from. Let me try to address and clarify your concerns. Project WeHOPE will be contracted with Santa Clara County for 5 beds and case management for the occupants of those beds in our transitional program. County of San Mateo has contracted with Project WeHOPE for 40 beds which includes clients from East Palo Alto. Additionally, we have 10 beds for discretionary use. We would love to have you come over and tour our facility in East Palo Alto. If you have any questions, my direct number is 650.779.5045. All the best to you!

Like this comment
Posted by Jeff Rensch
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

Bless you, Pastor Paul! Much needed

Like this comment
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Thanks for clarifying the article. It didn't make sense and I thought it may not have had the complete story about WeHope.
We still need a large shelter to replace the Sunnyvale armory.

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