News


Palo Alto women's shelter won't open

Heart and Home Collaborative faces rising permit fees, decreased volunteer interest

Heart and Home Collaborative, a startup that sheltered homeless Palo Alto women last year during the coldest winter months, will not open this year after a change in city permitting and a decline in volunteer staffing, board members told the Weekly.

The shelter, which was started by Stanford University students as part of their outreach efforts to the city's homeless population, offered food, bedding and warmth to women who otherwise risked assaults and hypothermia.

Last year the shelter had temporary-use permits from the City of Palo Alto to house the women in volunteer local churches. But the city has a 45-day limit on a temporary-use permit. Heart and Home would need a conditional-use permit at each of its church sites for longer stays, which would cost more than $4,400 per site, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith confirmed. That cost put a damper on plans to open the shelter this year, student coordinator Aparna Ananthasubramaniam said.

"Unfortunately, we can't open the shelter. We are planning on doing something else with the resources," Ananthasubramaniam said, but she declined to define what the other actions might be since the organization is still working on making a decision.

"We are looking to open the shelter next year, and we are working very hard toward that," she added.

Besides the costs, another difficulty the organization faced was the process for churches of engaging with neighbors who might be concerned about the shelter. Heart and Home wants to give participating churches time to work out details with neighbors, she said.

Alan Hebert, a University Lutheran Church liaison committee member with Heart and Home when the church hosted the shelter in College Terrace last winter, said the upfront costs are huge.

"It wasn't because we didn't like Heart and Home or because of bad experiences," he said. "The neighborhood engaged with us in a way it never had before, and more people in our congregation did something with Heart and Home than with anything else anyone could remember," he said. There were lessons the church learned along the way about communicating with neighbors, he said.

But a large part of the church's decision to hold off for this year was because the church had to kick out other organizations it regularly hosted during the month it opened the shelter, he said. The collaborative would also need to be better organized, he said.

"Heart and Home, their mission really is our mission. Just because we're not hosting the shelter doesn't mean we don't support them," Hebert said. He said he is researching other ways to help the shelter.

In a Dec. 2 email, Heart and Home board member Chuck Jagoda pointed to a tandem issue affecting the shelter's future operations.

"Our problem is there are fewer and fewer student volunteers. We're utilizing help from community members but are in danger of losing the student element especially if things continue as they are and have been for months now," he wrote to interested persons and organizations. Heart and Home made recruitment efforts for more than nine months without much success, he said.

"Volunteers show up without much trouble once the shelter is open, and that all works well for everyone. What we need are volunteers for administrative, organizational things," he wrote.

Prior to the official decision not to run the shelter, Keith said the city had been in talks with the shelter volunteers regarding permits, but how such a permit would have been structured was not determined. Palo Alto's other rotating emergency shelter, Hotel deZink, operates under conditional-use permits for its sites, she added.

Related content:

Women's shelter closes, quickly reopens as rains move in

Women find refuge at Heart and Home

Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Are You Kidding Me?!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 3, 2015 at 9:10 pm

The City of Palo Alto needs to be intelligent and waive the CUP fees for Heart and Home, as well as doing anything else possible to support the program and the churches that are willing to provide a safe place for these women. Our church hosted many of these women last year and I never heard about any problems or objections.

Why in the world would our City government not whole-heartedly support a safe, warm place for homeless women to shelter at night?


3 people like this
Posted by NIMBYs
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Sounds to me like NIMBY groups are using the permits and other issues as excuses to force these charities out of their neighborhoods.


2 people like this
Posted by Are You Kidding Me?!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 3, 2015 at 10:34 pm

I support the churches that house these women, including those in my own neighborhood. The use of the term, "NIMBY," is a catchphrase for anyone who has no better argument and so attacks the character and motives of people with whom they disagree.

In my experience, those who are quick to accuse others of being "NIMBYs" are also the first to protest similar actions in THEIR neighborhoods.

Let's just acknowledge that everyone (or almost everyone) is a NIMBY, and for good reason, and retire that stupid term from our dialogue.


2 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm

@Are You Kidding Me?!

You obviously weren't following any of the previous discussions around this topic, there were specific complains about the "element" they thought was being brought to their neighborhood.


1 person likes this
Posted by Are You Kidding Me?!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Robert,

No, I have not seen other threads regarding this topic - I was responding only to this article. Which neighborhoods are concerned about this "element?"

Churches should be allowed to help the needy without neighborhoods interfering, as long as the needy do not bring a physical threat.

Homeless women should have a place to be safe and warm, and unless they have a violent criminal record there is no reason to bar them from anyone's neighborhood. Of course, if they were paying rent, the neighbors still would not be able to interfere.


4 people like this
Posted by streetwise preacher
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 4, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Once again ( I believe) the few are controlling the many. Those College Terrace "haves" getting their kicks by oppressing 12 homeless women who will either get through these cold nights ahead by sleeping in their cars, or risk their health, sanity and well being and go to a homeless shelter.
Here again is proof that our society LABELS people with degrading titles,
and persists in their assumptions that;
if you happen to be impoverished, YOU must be a bad or evil person.
if you don't have a higher education, its your own fault.
if you had a rough marriage, or relationship, that is also your fault.
if you never learned to use others to get ahead, you deserve to be poor!
if you have experienced domestic abuse, you also deserve to be homeless!

These are attitudes I personally observed from people whenever I told them
that I was homeless, so this is NOT fabricated.
The fear that many have regarding the homeless is vastly unfounded.
Having met over 160 homeless people in the Bay area, I will attest to the fact that only 2% of them would be cause for any concerns. In the general population, there is a 5% cause for concern, and some of these problem people are YOUR neighbors, living in YOUR neighborhoods.
So, people , its time to get real and get smart, because many of you NIMBY's
are acting the fool. When I hear the phrase " this will affect our property values" it make me want to puke! How many Ebenezer Scrooges are there anyway? And do most of them reside in College Terrace?


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Did any of the above negative posters actually read this article? Nowhere does it say that the local CT residents were trying to block the shelter. In fact, the local church leaders state the opposite.

According to this article, the problem is raising the money for the fees and finding enough volunteers to fully staff the shelter...especially for pre-opening admin, organization and management. The other issue the church had was displacing other organizations/meetings that have been long-time users of its facilities.

Feel free to bash whoever you want, but at least keep your facts straight on this particular situation.


1 person likes this
Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

I like reading the comments of Crescent Park Dad and Are You Kidding Me?

I find people who can have a positive attitude and see and do good have the most fun and ARE the most fun. And I'm betting they live the longest.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 8:12 am

Heart and Home Collaborative is a Stanford students creation. The Lutheran church in College Terrace is an extension of a ministry at Stanford. It is only logical that this welfare operation be housed at Stanford, if it is to be housed anywhere.

I, personally, objected to it being placed in CT. I called the City and was insured that it would only be temporary, and that once the permit expired, it would not be renewed.

For those who like to spread the guilt around, open up your own homes to the homeless. Alternatively, open up buildings in your own neighborhood, for example Crescent Park. [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 8:54 am

There is a big difference between housing the homeless in some central location like a church or similar, than bringing them into your own home. What a ridiculous suggestion.

If you live near a church, then you made that choice. Churches have a mission which often involves the premises being used other than Sunday mornings. If you are considering buying a home or living near a church, did you look at that church to see how the premises were used? Did you see if there was a parking problem at various times because of the church? Did you see if they had midweek meetings, overnight functions, and anything that would produce noise or visitors to your area?

It is the same with any neighbors, when you choose to live in a home, you can't choose your neighbors but you can get a feel for how they live their lives. And with any neighbors, they may change, or start using the home in a different fashion to what they did when say their children were younger.

And in my opinion, churches should be reaching out to the vulnerable in a community. They are not just Sunday morning clubs. The facilities should be multi-functional and if they are being well run with all permits, etc. and doing their best to be good neighbors, then more power to them, is what I say.


Like this comment
Posted by in my backyard
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 5, 2015 at 10:20 am

Hey Craig, I already opened my neighborhood to all the camper vans and homeless that live by my neighborhood park! Let's not forget the city repealed the vehicle habitation ban a couple of months ago, the ladies just need a good old bus and can live ANYWHERE in Palo Alto now, not just in exclusive CT :-)


2 people like this
Posted by tempest in a teapot
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2015 at 11:19 am

Our church was one of several that hosted the Heart and Home shelter last year, and we did get to know one of the women in the shelter, who subsequently did live with us in a spare bedroom for about 9 months after that program ended. Homelessness is a problem with many surprising faces. One of them is contracting cancer without having medical insurance or savings. Another is job loss. One of the women I met became homeless after the well-intentioned 2014 state requirement that a nanny can't work more than 8 hours, so the former live-in nanny I spoke with was moved out to make room for the second shift live-in nanny for the evenings. Another face is mental illness. The shelter (and hosting church) did keep out the few unsafe women in the crowd, which is a basic requirement for any sheltering organization. Homeless is a problem that looks more frightening from afar than up close, and it's unfortunate that the city is now requiring a CUP now rather than the TUP that was granted previously.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 11:28 am


>the ladies just need a good old bus and can live ANYWHERE in Palo Alto now, not just in exclusive CT :-)

A good old bus, nice and cozy could be parked in Downtown North or Crescent Park, as long as it does not violate parking rules. Funny that PA does not allow such things in its own parking garages (especially City Hall garage), though.

Ventura has been dumped on like CT. Time for new neighborhoods to volunteer...ya think? Which elite neighborhoods are raising their hands?


3 people like this
Posted by Missy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 11:36 am

I am not sure they are saving any money by requiring this permit. Would anyone like to calculate the cost of and assault/sexual assault or Illness/death of one of these homeless people on the community? To the dispatcher/ambulance/hospital costs/officers/detectives/coroner/judicial processes?

OMG who is in charge of this mess?


2 people like this
Posted by college terrace
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:55 pm

For all of your info, resident association supported the shelter. Few of the adjacent homeowners didn't and went to the city. Strangely, it listened.


Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:26 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Mylene
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Its a crying shame that one of the most affluent areas of America has chosen to bleed out its homeless with exorbitant shelter permit fees. This is outrageous, because Palo Alto should have automatic fee waivers for these types of non-profits and the fact that it is a women's shelter makes these outrageous fees doubly offensive.
I recommend using the churches as planned and don't pay the damn fees. When the city comes in boot the homeless for non-payment make sure the Press or TV stations are on site live to record this insanity. I bet Palo Alto bureaucrats will quickly come to their senses and waive any fees once they get on TV and try to explain their greed driven fees. This Women's Shelter needs a competent marketing person because anything and everything gets accomplished in Silicone Valley with proper marketing. Justice requires exposing the injustice rather than walking away or backing down.
If everyone walked away rather than stand up and "fight" for right and wrong-we would still be back in the days of slavery.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 4:18 pm

As someone else pointed out, permits are just a smokescreen. If the churches ignore the permits and just open their doors to the homeless, then grinch neighbors and their greedy lawyers will launch lawsuits long before the city tries to cite the churches over permits. Do lawyers care about bad publicity? Of course not.


Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I really admire Craig Laughton. He has the nerve to speak his mind, and admits that he is a proud nimby. A lot of us think like he does, but we are too afraid to stand up in a public forum. Craig promotes the secret ballot, and I fully agree with him.

Thank you, Craig


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Let's look at it another way. Say your neighbor is a large 6 bedroomed house with parking for several cars, a nice yard and a nice family live there. Say they decide to leave and the house is sold so somebody new moves in. Say that this new owner decides to invite lots of friends to stay, not for rent but for a couple of weeks at a time. In fact enough friends come to stay that they decide that it makes sense that they cook on meals outside in the yard while the people swim in the pool, or sit in the sun/shade and throw/kick a ball to help pass the time. Let's say that by dusk (different time of day at different time of year) all the people go inside and not a sound is heard from them until breakfast time next morning, when bacon is being cooked on the grills and the people start enjoying exercising in the yards. Let's say that although there are a lot of people staying here for a short time, they are behaving respectfully and even keeping their several cars all parked on the street.

You may not like the new neighbors, but I doubt very much you could stop it if there have been no noise or other problems.

Now, think if this is a church that is beside you and they are letting some homeless women stay overnight for a few weeks.

Craig unless you can prove that homeless women are causing more problems than a neighbor with several guests that stay for a couple of weeks, then I don't see your problem. In fact, what exactly is your problem?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Sorry meant cars are parked off street and all guests are behaving respectfully.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:04 pm

>Let's look at it another way. Say your neighbor is a large 6 bedroomed house with parking for several cars, a nice yard and a nice family live there

That wouldn't be College Terrace...you must be talking about one of the elite neighborhoods. Best to take your flimsy argument to them.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Craig, the same would apply if it were a 3 bed 1 bath neighbor who invites a few people to stay for a couple of weeks.

Don't squirm.


2 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Here you go, craig, at least two homes in CT with 6 bedrooms:

Web Link

Or are you disputing the " nice family" description?


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:23 pm

This is a shame; can someone involved (Mr. Jagoda?) let readers know where donors can donate funds to help homeless women in Palo Alto survive this winter? FWIW, I live behind the CT church that hosted the shelter last year and am not aware of ANY problems that resulted from letting ~12 women take nighttime shelter there for a few weeks.


1 person likes this
Posted by Are You Kidding Me?!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm

City staff "bends" rules all the time when they want to, so I don't believe the CUP cost has anything to do with this. Even their memos to City Council advising on issues are sometimes more opinion than fact.

Craig said staff told him the use permit would not be renewed, which suggests city staff decided that unilaterally, so everything else is just noise. I'm betting someone who is influential with city staff told them to kill this, and so they are.

How can we get this in front of our new City Council ASAP? I don't know the process, but more compassionate leadership needs to be involved in this!


Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2015 at 6:15 am

@Are You Kidding Me?! - it's doubtful Staff is guilty of a unilateral decision on this b/c Craig's reference to the City telling him that the permit would not be renewed is likely a comment about last year's CUP. The 2014 permit was for a set amount of time and when it expired the temporary evening shelter for women at University Lutheran ended. Everyone was aware of the time limitation and the shelter program and church honored that. New year, new challenges. It's easy for me to accept that this is not all about money. The resistance to the CUP was significant as was the volunteer time required of the student organizers and others associated with the shelter program.


2 people like this
Posted by Missing the point
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

According to my read of the article, the key problem is that volunteerism for administration of the program has fallen off. The church said this. The permit fees are not the key problem.

The key expenses are not the permit fees. It is expensive to RUN these programs. They need people to manage the budget, scheduling, insurance, coordinate supplies, food, and programming. It is not an insignificant task to run a safe and organized shelter environment that addresses the various needs of homeless folks, including physical and mental health monitoring. If the volunteers have fallen off, that is the big problem--not the permit fees (which, in terms of total program costs, are insignificant).

I suspect that if they had a viable program, the city would find some way to support the effort.


1 person likes this
Posted by streetwise preacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 6, 2015 at 10:44 am

[Portion removed.]

Churches will not step up to the plate because they are operating as a business, NOT a ministry. When I questioned some pastors at several churches
I was told that their insurance does not cover this activity of letting
people sleep over in a church building, so their thoughts are NOT for the lost, the less fortunate or the needy. Jesus Wept!
A couple of churches DID host this shelter in 2012,and one of them was PBC
on Middlefield Road. Ministers are supposed to follow the teachings of Christ, but most compromise to worldly pressures when some choice has to be made, which is the same as hammering the nails!
Hope I don't get edited!


Like this comment
Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

Hi Annette!

Thanks for raising a very practical matter that is also a morality quiz.

As for your request for donation information-- please use this link on our website. There are also volunteer opportunities listed and more information about Heart and Home Women's Shelter.

Web Link

By the way as Sue Dremann's fine article states we are not able to shelter women as we did last winter for several reasons. From our experience at University Lutheran Church last winter we learned that the earlier you do outreach and talking with members of community-- the fewer complaints you have earlier. The plain fact is we didn't get going on getting hosts early enough to get all the preparation work done until well after winter.

Of course the high permit cost is a high cost problem that we hope to work with the City on reducing now in this new spirit of City Council members (GP; MB; TDuB) asking for feedback and ways to help homeless people.

We continue to work with donors and partners to support the shelter of our working poor homeless money.

We are considering using our resources to shelter our guests this winter in a motel sheter program along the lines of the Downtown Streets Team Motel Program which has been going on for over a month this winter.

Our budget is available on our website.

Thanks Annette and all people of good moral character.

None of us was brought up to be mean to poor people.

Any rationalizations to go the way of the old Palo Alto model of denying space and resources to homeless people should be carefully examined in the light of homelessness happening to one's own family and friends.

Unfortunately homelessness is not going away. It is growing every day.

The moral thing to do is something-- anything no matter how small to help end homelessness.

Whoopi Goldberg has said that if every American contributed five minutes of volunteer time a week-- all of America's problems will be solved.

We ought to try it out. We all win to the infinity power.


PS

I added the above comment yesterday and it never appeared. What's up with that?


Like this comment
Posted by realestatesrv
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Feb 24, 2016 at 10:12 pm

That's an interesting post. www.movety.com.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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