Unable to secure a new emergency cold-weather shelter to replace a longtime facility that closed earlier this year, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan that would provide up to $1.1 million in funding to give North County's homeless population a place to go on cold nights this winter, according to a Santa Clara County press release.
When the Sunnyvale Armory, which long served as a homeless shelter, closed to make way for an affordable housing development in March, North County lost more than 125 emergency shelter beds. County staff spent months looking for a replacement for the shuttered shelter but came up empty-handed, so in lieu of a single facility, officials approved a plan that would direct staff to enter into a series of agreements with four nonprofits: Downtown Streets Team, HomeFirst, InnVision Shelter Network and Project WeHOPE.
The approved plan includes a motel voucher program for families with children and single adults, expanded shelter services at Project WeHOPE in East Palo Alto, expanded services at Hotel de Zink in Palo Alto, cold-weather outreach to the county's homeless population and expanded services at Commercial Street Inn and the Boccardo Reception Center in San Jose.
"Right now, time is our enemy," County Supervisor Joe Simitian said in the release. "The cold weather months will be on us shortly. Folks who used to find shelter at the Sunnyvale Armory will need somewhere else to go. Given the absence of a replacement shelter, County staff did the best they could to come up with a Plan B that will give folks options to get out of the cold."
Coordination between nonprofits and city governments is required to ensure the services are set up, but Simitian stressed the urgency of the situation.
"Last year, we lost four lives in a week during an unexpected cold spell," he said. "That can't be allowed to happen again."