News

Palo Alto homeless shelter seeks neighbors' input

Church on Middlefield Road could provide temporary housing next winter

Heart and Home Collaborative, a nonprofit organization offering emergency shelter to homeless women, is exploring various locations for its shelter next winter, and on Wednesday, group members took their pitch to neighbors of Peninsula Bible Church on Middlefield Road.

The outreach effort was the first the group hopes to conduct in Palo Alto neighborhoods as it seeks to find churches to each temporarily shelter 15 homeless women during winter's harshest months.

The shelter was started by Stanford University students, and in 2012 and 2013, it was able to offer food, bedding and warmth to women who otherwise lived outside. The women were screened for tuberculosis and through a sex-offenders registry prior to being accepted in the program, coordinator Aparna Ananthasubramaniam said.

Heart and Home previously hosted women at Peninsula Bible Church and at University Lutheran Church in College Terrace for five weeks in 2013-14 and at other churches in 2012 under the umbrella of the nonprofit organization InnVision (now InnVision Shelter Network).

But fear, a misunderstanding of the women and a lack of communication on the part of the churches led to anger among some residents, particularly in College Terrace, in past years, according to board members and church officials.

This past winter, the shelter was unable to open due to a change in the city's permit process, Ananthasubramaniam said.

As a result of the tension in prior winters, Heart and Home is engaging in neighborhood outreach for each of this year's potential shelters. Rev. Andy Burnham of Peninsula Bible Church said church leaders sent 325 postcards to residents living within 600 feet of the south Palo Alto church inviting them to Wednesday's meeting. It offered the opportunity to provide information and take the pulse of the community, he said.

"Palo Alto has a long history of helping the homeless that dates back to the 1930s," Burnham said, noting that the city's police chief started a shelter to house people who came to town during the Great Depression. Twelve religious organizations currently take part in the nonprofit Hotel de Zink shelter, which moves to another site each month.

But Hotel de Zink can only help a fraction of Palo Alto's estimated 150 homeless persons, Ananthasubramaniam said. Hotel de Zink is also a co-ed shelter, and women often don't feel safe there, some Heart and Home guests told the Weekly last year.

The organization hires a professional staff person to be on site nightly from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and volunteers bring dinners and help with setup. By 6:30 a.m., staff has everything packed up and stored in a trailer kept on site.

One Peninsula Bible Church neighbor asked where the women go after the shelter closes, expressing concern that the women might hang around for 12 hours in nearby parks and libraries.

"I hear the concerns. I can't promise anything about what people do every day. But from my experience we didn't have a situation where people were hanging around here all day," Ananthasubramaniam said.

Most of the women have other things to do, such as going to jobs, attending medical appointments or visiting case workers. Many of the women in the past spent the hours at the Opportunity Center on Encina Way, where drop-in services give them access to showers, clothing and computers, Ananthasubramaniam said. About 60 percent of the women have jobs.

As for safety, "a typical night was calm. If something came up, we had paid professional staff to address it," she said.

Alan Hebert, a University Lutheran Church member who assisted with Heart and Home when the church hosted the shelter, said the church realized it made a mistake by not doing adequate outreach to residents. Fear played a strong factor to the opposition, he said.

Burnham and Hebert said they assumed the shelter would be accepted as a natural outgrowth of the churches' role as a sanctuary.

"We thought it was a no-brainer. Palo Alto has a long history of being a very helping community," Burnham said, admitting his erroneous assumption.

Added Hebert: "We got a great big slap to the face. If you are getting involved in bringing the shelter to your church, you'd better be involved with your neighbors."

After the dust settled, Hebert said the church had "a shocking number" of people who came to volunteer. Neighbors brought food and their children to meet the women, and a Girl Scout troop wanted to help, he said.

In addition to neighborhood outreach, Heart and Home organizers are working with the city to ensure the shelters are legally permitted. The group used to operate under a 45-day temporary-use permit from the City of Palo Alto at each site, but for longer stays, Heart and Home now is required to have a conditional-use permit, which would cost more than $4,400 per site, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith confirmed in early January.

But city officials are considering alternatives to the hefty fees, Ananthasubramaniam said. Keith confirmed that staff was discussing ways to lessen the financial impact, but she could not confirm by press time if a final decision had been reached.

From University Lutheran Church's standpoint, hosting the shelter did bring something unexpected. Residents who hadn't noticed the church before became interested in what it offered.

"Now all of a sudden the neighborhood knows we're there," Hebert said, adding that University Lutheran gained a couple of members.

The shelter has also improved the women's chances. Some of the women worked on the next step in their lives when they didn't have to struggle to find shelter, Ananthasubramaniam said.

"We wanted a woman who was at the shelter to come and talk tonight," Ananthasubramaniam told the group Wednesday, "but now she has a job at Costco, and she couldn't get off work."

Comments

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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Is it any coincidence that the church is in proximity of Mitchell Park?

Each church location functions in relation to a larger church entity which owns the property and pays the insurance and taxes on that property. The question is if the insurance covers people co-habiting within the church buildings who are not members of the church and may not have a personal requirement to maintain the property - smoking or drinking? That changes up what the church tax base is and requires approval from the top level of the church. Each church is not an independent unit - each work within a higher level of authority and control.

Looking at the comments above there is a requirement for a professional staff to be on hand overnight. That is an increased cost to the church since they are responsible for the maintenance of the facility.

It has been brought up at the city council that there is a large building owned by the school system not being used - it is just sitting there. I have seen this twice at the city council meetings. Every one in charge knows that building is there and being unused.

The city in total has buildings that are not being used and can be used for this purpose. The question on the table is why aren't these buildings being used? This topic keeps revolving around with no one addressing the elephant in the room - city owned building. The elephant is that there are insurance implications which the city does not want to address.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Every church has a congregation which pays to assist in the upkeep of the church - it is called tithing. Most churches have a full schedule of evening activities for different congregation groups - bible study, teenager groups, etc. And during the day the churches can rent out their space for a voting location, or Life Line Screening location. Most churches have full schedules so that their facility is in use by the congregants.

If you now implode an all night sleeping / eating other service items for the sleep-over group this is interfering with the use of the facility by the congregants who have established meeting groups. And where do you put the beds, etc during the day - also people's personal possessions.

If the congregation agrees to this that is up to them - but each church has to determine how this impacts their regular scheduled activities and size of facility. I am concerned that outside organizations which have no fiscal responsibility for the church somehow take over the situation so that the congregation does not have a vote - or their established programs get overtaken by outside interests.

It still goes back to the city to use the known empty buildings where you can have the beds and storage for personal items without interfering with other organizations which have an existing requirement for their facilities.


4 people like this
Posted by Not homeless
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I think people should read the article before commenting. Some of the things the above posters have asked are addressed in the article.

Churches are part of the neighborhood so it is good if a church reaches out to their neighbors. If a church is doing what is expected, e.g. helping the poor, the homeless, the sick, we should support them for carrying out that mission.

If they are able to fund this then that is their prerogative. If they can put down some cots and sleeping bags and park the cars of the homeless, isn't that better than having a homeless encampment at Cubberley?

And for most people, the churches were there before the neighbors lived there. They should have discovered how many evening meetings the church has on a weekly basis if they don't like evening activities at the church. It strikes me that a few people arriving to sleep in the shelter would make much less noise than a few loud choir/band rehearsals or teen activities in the evening.

BTW, I think Peninsula Bible Church is non-denominational and makes its own decisions without a higher authority (other than God) having to pay attention.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 13, 2015 at 7:58 pm

I think the city should address the use of available buildings that it has in the city. That has been brought up at city council twice that I am aware of. That is the most obvious choice. No one here or in the article has addressed that - it is continually not addressed by the city.
You cannot make assumptions about what any organization should be doing.



1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 12:32 am

Any article in a paper is written to drive a conclusion down a particular path. That is accomplished by only inputting data that supports a particular position.

All of the homeless articles talk to the problem but the use of a city / county / state owned building that is not being used is ever addressed - or there is a vague nod with no conclusion.

The usual conclusion is that some other entity is required to provide the service - said entity having its own insurance, facility, paid taxes.
I never see a conclusion in which the city who owns a building provides the service.

During the rainy season we could have used the county fair grounds which have bathrooms, space, parking, and areas for food service. But that does not happen.

I think it is time to discuss what is preventing the city from providing a building and what the cost is for doing that.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 9:30 am

Other thought here is that we have other items on this platform which are alluding to increase in cost for electricity, water, garbage collection, city services.

The homeowner is being tagged for future collection problems with food scraps, coffee grounds, composting, on and on with the homeowner being asked to do more to segregate how garbage is segregated for pick-up. And use of water - no more long hot showers.

Guess what - any facility out there - church or otherwise - has to comply with whatever new thoughts are on this matter, including the higher cost for water, utilities and garbage pick-up.

So you are now asking an existing facility which already has an established budget for utilities, toilet paper/bathroom items, garbage collection, electricity to now increase the budget for all of those services - and the people are not even congregants of the church. Are you going to ask the church members to increase their tithing? Provide volunteer work to sort trash for pick-up? Are the church members going to volunteer for food services - coffee in the morning, dinner at night?

Those are the obvious issues the city does not want to address by using a city building that is available - water use, trash sort and pick-up, food service which includes dishwashing facilities, etc. Of all of the available facilities out there any church is the most stretched budget wise. And use of paper plates - forget that.

Any church that is volunteering for this effort needs the vote from the congregants that everyone knows going in what is involved.

We need a drop in food service / stay-over location that can be self sustaining on what ever budget is provided.


5 people like this
Posted by PBCer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 10:07 am

resident 1:

PBC is a non-denominational Christian church that is open to all. No one is forced to "join" or "tithe." Like all churches, they pass offering baskets during services, and people give if they can, and don't if they can't. As someone who regularly attends PBC, I knew full well about the women staying there in 2013 and fully supported it. BTW, I also live within short walking distance and have/had no concern whatsoever about where these women went during the day. There was an optional event for the children's ministry where the kids made up gift baskets for the women - all donated items. This program is desperately needed, and there is no more appropriate entity to lead the way and set an example than churches.

The additional cost to PBC to support these women is a tiny, tiny fraction of the budget and not worth even bringing up. I recommend you attend services for a few months and get a better understanding of how PBC operates and find out about all of the charitable programs it funds and supports before concerning yourself with the cost of food scrap collection.

The article isn't about city buildings, or where all theoretical locations are to house the homeless, it is about a church that has stepped up and offered to help. It would be wonderful if the City would make their empty buildings available at night, we just need someone to spearhead that effort. Maybe you can volunteer?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 11:48 am

PCBr - if your congregation has collectively agreed to support this activity then more power to the congregation. I am already well aware and invested in the cost of running facilities in general - and a church is a facility with the same costs as all other facilities in the cities.

Those costs are growing due to city requirements and if all of your parishioners are putting in the money then more power to them. It sounds like your income source is your parishioners if you have no higher church authority that helps mitigate costs over all of the church facilities then so be it - your church has no fall back position.

There is the initial effort to get a commitment. Then here is a the day to day reality as time goes on as to what the day to day cost is.

That is not hyperbole that is the cost of doing business - and a church is doing business. It is just writing off the businesses in different ways.


2 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Did all who commented even read this article? It saddens me that when a group finally steps up and makes efforts to "do the right thing" (love thy neighbor, help the needy, etc.), people are still argumentative/against positive change. I find it terribly frustrating that people--presumably sitting in their warm homes--would criticize this effort to provide women a safe place to sleep, which in turn could help them get back on their feet (gain employment, get off the street, etc.). Would the critics feel differently if they were the ones left out in the cold? People are naive if they believe that they are immune to becoming homeless. All it would take is losing your health or your job (don't think it never happens--takes place every day), and you could lose everything, too. Some of the women who use these services ARE members of the church, so this is also a familiar place for them, which increases their feeling of safety. How is that a bad thing? If the world would do more of this, it would be a much better place. The church is doing what every church should: they are reaching out to neighbors, whether they are in homes or not. More should follow this example. Good job to all involved here!


1 person likes this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Heart and Home Collaborative was created by Stanford students. The university-based church in College Terrace is also based at Stanford. The obvious solution is to base this program at Stanford, if it is viable. Perhaps Memorial Church. Why not?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Anonymous - the whole point here for the city to step up to using an existing building year around. That means the city has to absorb the cost for the effort. No one is arguing positive change - it is arguing the correct people to implement the action. If the church wants to do it that is fine - but most churches do not have the long term budget to subsidize this type effort.

Is there some reason you have an aversion to the city creating a full time house for this type effort? That is what makes the most sense.


2 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Resident1, no aversion at all. I just know that while the decision makers are busy crunching numbers and working through details, time doesn't stop. When talking about using city resources, taxpayer money, and getting permits, approvals all take time that these women don't have. They need help now or they will continue to fall through the cracks, so to speak. An organized effort to keep women safe and help get them off the streets is a good move, regardless of what other efforts are/aren't being made. Even if only 15 women are given shelter here, that's 15 women that are not sleeping outside. These people are not disposable. We, as a society, can not turn our backs on them and then complain that they are a nuisance in our parks, etc. (For the record, they have just as much of a right to sit on a park bench and watch birds as the rest of us do.)


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 6:20 pm

The city should step up to creating the facility for this situation which could add more individuals than fifteen. The city has the resources to do this, as well as expediting the permit process. That should be a long term goal for the city.

Since all cities in Santa Clara County, as well as the peninsula are working the same type issues then the city - with the help of the non-profit agencies which are authorized to work the homeless issues have the requisite skills to make this happen. The county has carved out a budget and assigned people who are county appointed to work this issue.
They need to step up to the plate and organize this ladies house - they can make it a model for the other peninsula cities.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Resident1, that would all be great! But even though the resources may be there, that hasn't yet happened (as far as I know)....


2 people like this
Posted by PBCer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 12:29 am

Of the 14 posts so far, eight appear to be from the same person - resident 1.

At first this poster seemed to be against housing these 15 women at a local church, like PBC, but then seemed to be advocating for a year-round shelter in a city-owned building.

resident 1: What is your actual point? Are you in favor of giving homeless women a safe, warm place to sleep at night in the winter, or not? Are you trying to say the City should step up and provide more homeless services year-round? Are you one of these homeless women?

I truly want to understand you better. At first, I thought you were complaining about PBC offering this accommodation but now I am not so sure.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm

I am pointing out potential financial and legal issues which you all keep avoiding. The organization sponsoring this activity should be working with the city to set up a year around facility that is self sustaining - or receiving funding from the county homeless pool of funding.

This could be done on Stanford property which would give them a brownie point - given that they are now building a low cost apartment complex on El Camino.

Joe Simitian seems to be the head of the homeless coordination for the county so he should be assisting in this effort. This should be a year around facility that is approved by and accredited by the Department of Social Services. The top article is discussing health issues so that is a reason the Department of Social Services should be involved. You are essentially setting up a "motel" which Social Services should be reviewing for safety and health concerns.

You also have children involved - ages not provided - that should be in school somewhere. If a parent gets a job than child-care becomes another cost issue.

If a year-round facility could be set up there is no reason why the church members cannot provide the support - and volunteer for food services, baby sitting, etc. If a year-around facility is set up then all of the churches in Palo Alto could provide a collective of support services to defray costs and give the women a better opportunity to work with more groups to obtain employment.

If you are looking for a better solution for the women then a year-around facility is the answer - and all of the churches can participate is the support system for the facility. Then all of the churches can get brownie points and put in their time to support the effort.

I suggest that you start coordinating with Joe Simitian and other church leaders to provide the momentum for the year-around facility.


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

>Are you in favor of giving homeless women a safe, warm place to sleep at night in the winter, or not?

Implicit in your question is that current homeless centers are not safe for women, presumably because dangerous men use them. If so, then such centers are not safe anywhere near our neighborhoods, where our women and daughters live.

It is very clear that this women's homeless center belongs at Stanford, where it was born. If Stanford won't take it, then let the idea die.


1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm

From what I can tell from the Police Blotter, out of area men come to the shelter in Palo Alto. Therefore, local women may indeed not feel safe around these transients. However, I agree with Craig that Stanford should step up to the plate and manage this effort (to help local women) on their dime and property. Imposing on a church or community center is not appropriate and may pose liability risks, other costs to people other than those who originated the idea.


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Posted by Charlotte
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Resident 1,

Just a quick correction: The Heart and Home Collaborative women's shelter has never housed women with children. It wasn't formed with that population in mind. Instead, after looking at the existing services, Heart and Home determined that single women without children were uniquely underserved with shelter assistance in Santa Clara County.

Childcare isn't part of this conversation.




3 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

I agree with Craig Laughton, why is this Stanford student idea being forced on Palo Alto? It should be based at Stanford, if Stanford wants it. If not, it should be dismissed. Where are those students, now?

Thank you, Craig. It's about time someone stood up for the silent majority in Palo Alto! You have the courage to do it!


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Posted by PBCer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Craig,

There is nothing implicit in my comment - you made that up. [Portion removed.]

Churches are a place of refuge, and there is no danger from having 15 women spend the night in your precious neighborhoods. Certainly these women pose less danger than the thugs that are breaking into cars, committing violent acts downtown, and breaking into homes.

Can someone please list the crimes that have been committed against residents by homeless women sleeping at churches? Or by homeless women in general?


2 people like this
Posted by PBCer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 9:50 pm

resident 1:

Please start a new thread if you want to advocate for a new, fulltime shelter on city property. Your comments are not on topic on this thread about a church reaching out to their nearby community regarding housing homeless women in their neighborhood.


2 people like this
Posted by PBCer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Hey Julie,

Guess what? We have homeless people living in Palo Alto - do you really think they should all be pushed onto the Stanford Campus just because some Stanford students took the time and energy to develop this wonderful program that gives displaced women a safe, warm place to sleep during the cold winter nights?

Palo Alto churches are willing and able to house these women at night, through the generous support and volunteerism of church attendees and Heart and Home staff. There is no need to push these women out of our precious little neighborhoods.

Many of these women are working and trying to get back on their feet after a loss. Imagine if one of these women was your sister, mother, daughter, aunt, or niece, and you couldn't afford to take care of them yourself. Would you want you family family member kicked to the curb?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm

PBCer - there has been countless articles about the homeless everywhere in this city, county and on the peninsula. It is every bodies business. There is no coordination at the top county level and that is just wrong. The organization sought you out after running into issues in its existing situation. So that organization needs some top level help and coordination if it has previously run into problems.
There is no reason why all of these efforts cannot be consolidated into one that is well run and successful. And there is no reason why only one church would be involved since all churches are talking the same subject. If all churches are concerned and willing to help then having one stable location that all can help with is the best FOR THE WOMEN.


6 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:58 am

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>There is no need to push these women out of our precious little neighborhoods.

I like our precious neighborhoods and want to defend them from many intrusions, including homeless centers (women or men or combined). The elite neighborhoods could start to volunteer to open up their large homes and mansions to the homeless...but they won't.

If county homeless centers are dangerous to women, then why would they be placed anywhere near our neighborhoods? Our neighborhoods have our women and daughters (and sons) in them. If the homeless centers are safe, as advertised, then there is no need for gender segregation.

The overarching issue is the magnet effect: Provide homeless services for 100 people, then 200 more will move here to receive them. Our politicians and preachers don't like to address this fundamental issue.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In Palo Alto we have an existing organization coordinated under the Urban Ministries which has a Hotel de Zink which coordinates with the local churches to house homeless individuals on a rotating basis through the supporting churches. Some mention of this is included in the article but it was intimated that the women felt unsafe. That is a bit of an indictment of the work that the organization and churches are endeavoring to support.
Urban Ministries has a long history in support so has experience and connections for county funding.

Review of the home page for the HHC indicates that this is a Stanford coordinated event. It also suggests that this is a "winter/rain" type effort. Hopefully SU can provide a facility year-around so that the students can participate hands on in the running of the shelter. Possibly the Sociology students can get some extra credits if they assists in the upkeep of the facility on SU campus. I am sure that this could be termed a "learning experience" for the SU students. Since this organization originates from the SU campus then one would have to assume that the homeless women have links to the campus.


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Posted by MaryW
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:52 am

MaryW is a registered user.

Hello Palo Alto Online commenters

Thank you for engaging in this conversation which touches so many people. Heart and Home Collaborative would like to make note of a couple of points which may lead to confusion if not corrected

** Heart and Home Collaborative is not coordinated by or affiliated with Stanford. We are a registered non-profit organization, founded by students along with housed and unhoused community members. We work collaboratively to create personal relationships and work for solutions for people who do not have shelter.

** Only women are served by our cold-weather shelter, not children. Those women are not linked to Stanford; they are local women without shelter.

** Heart and Home Collaborative is the operator of the shelter and hires the staff to run the shelter. This is not the responsibility of the host sites.

** Because Heart and Home is a registered non-profit and because the mission of the shelter aligns with their religious purposes, charitable host sites such as churches would not expect a change in tax status.

** Churches who partner with Heart and Home do so not as a burden imposed on them, but as a means of living out their mission to serve the poor.

** The decision to create a women-only shelter reflects only the wishes of the women clients who often feel more comfortable in a women-only space. It was not mean to raise questions about any other shelter model, especially the remarkably successful Hotel de Zink


Three other topics came up which we would like to comment on:


Other models
----
Some commenters have raised suggestions about other entities undertaking larger efforts to house the unhoused. We welcome all approaches to restoring homes and dignity to those in need, but these suggested efforts would be the work of those organizations and their constituents. Our purpose as Heart and Home Collaborative is to offer shelter and support to people in need. Looking at our community, we saw the effective rotating shelter model being offered by Hotel de Zink and chose it as the best available option likely to offer cold-weather shelter. Our winter shelters run in past years have shown the benefit of the approach and we are eager to offer it again for Winter 2016.

Operational details of Heart and Home
----
We could provide many other details of the shelter operations -- for instance, the beds used by Heart and Home are mattresses stored during the day in an out-of-the-way location at the hosting site, or in the Heart and Home trailer in the host site parking lot. Also, we prefer to use reusable plates, not paper plates, whenever possible. :-) These and many other details may be best addressed in one of our upcoming community meetings, which we will announce here and within the neighborhoods where we are engaged.

Thank you again for engaging in conversation on this article. We know that through dialogue and understanding one another, we will be able to better engage in serving those who truly need this simple gift of a safe place to sleep, out of the cold, with access to human company and supportive staff.

MaryW
on behalf of Heart and Home


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Thank you for the update.
1. The HHC site on the Internet states that SU students are the people that are going out into the community to generate interest in the HHC organization. That raises the obvious question as to the relationship with SU.
2. Since this organization was started by SU students and originally started its effort with the SU campus churches then the question comes up as to why this does not continue in that manner. It would seem like a natural progression if students are the people that are doing the leg work here.
3. What is the legal issue that arose related to determining that going outside of the SU campus environment was necessary.
4. What is the typical age group that derives benefit from this service - and what is their legal status so any priors, immigration status, etc.
That is the question as to what group of women are you serving - are these graduated students? If this started on SU campus then it would make sense that SU "people" were directed to this service on campus. How are you finding the people?
5. If SU students are out talking to churches then could it be assumed that you are planning to have many churches housing fifteen women per church across the city.
6. If most of the organized denominations are already supporting Hotel Da Zink then this represents a doubling up on those churches since they already have a commitment.
7. Since it is indicated on the HHC web site that you are assembling a structure required for a non-profit to obtain funding then have you attempted to work with the city to find an existing building that can be used year around. If this service is being portrayed as a winter weather effort then a lot of effort suggests that you are attempting some type of year-around support.
8. Security in facilities across the city varies as to location and proximity to known problem areas. If a building is located in an area in which many of the buildings along side will be closed and dark then security becomes an issue, especially if they have deep parking lots which are not observable from the street. If a building is dedicated to a homeless purpose in a highly visible location then better security measure can be put in place specific to that facility. The security issue then fans out to the neighborhood that is in that location. Has this discussion with the city taken place?
9. Has a discussion with SU to provide a location for this effort on campus taken place? If so what was their response?


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am concerned that the responder - Mary H - is from "another community".
The pull down tab for the city / location of the responders includes every city north and south of Palo Alto, including Stanford.

There is a disingenuous set of circumstances here:
1. Every city / county has homeless people, every city / county has churches, and every city / county has to have a strategy for working that issue within that city / county. Compassion has to work in ALL cities / counties.

2. Palo Alto has a organization and strategy which is successful. The churches who participate in Hotel Da Zink are doing a great job and are safe. To imply otherwise - that they are unsafe - is saying they don't understand how to manage security issues for the people on their property.
The Hotel Da Zinc model can be implemented in any city/county. All of the large, denominational churches who participate also support the homeless in other cities where they have a facility.

3. People and churches who are concerned with the homeless issues are donating time and money to support the Urban Ministry, the churches involved, and the people they are serving.

4. Are People from other communities targeting Palo Alto for the homeless? How does HHC write a web page that cites Palo Alto when the people who are HHC spokespersons do not live in Palo Alto? How does that work?

5. Sounds like complicated funding issues are at work here for all concerned.

6. It is noted that the non-denominational church noted has churches in other cities which could be used for this purpose if they do not already have a similar program.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am concerned that the responder - Mary H - is from "another community".
The pull down tab for the city / location of the responders includes every city north and south of Palo Alto, including Stanford.

There is a disingenuous set of circumstances here:
1. Every city / county has homeless people, every city / county has churches, and every city / county has to have a strategy for working that issue within that city / county. Compassion has to work in ALL cities / counties.

2. Palo Alto has a organization and strategy which is successful. The churches who participate in Hotel Da Zink are doing a great job and are safe. To imply otherwise - that they are unsafe - is saying they don't understand how to manage security issues for the people on their property.
The Hotel Da Zinc model can be implemented in any city/county. All of the large, denominational churches who participate also support the homeless in other cities where they have a facility.

3. People and churches who are concerned with the homeless issues are donating time and money to support the Urban Ministry, the churches involved, and the people they are serving.

4. Are People from other communities targeting Palo Alto for the homeless? How does HHC write a web page that cites Palo Alto when the people who are HHC spokespersons do not live in Palo Alto? How does that work?

5. Sounds like complicated funding issues are at work here for all concerned.

6. It is noted that the non-denominational church noted has churches in other cities which could be used for this purpose if they do not already have a similar program.


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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper, RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Lynn Huidekoper, RN is a registered user.

I just found this article and read the comments. I would be glad to update Resident 1 on the situation about the homeless in Palo Alto. There are quite a few misconceptions in your postings about what is happening both at the city and county levels. I see are passionate about this issue.
I would be glad to meet for coffee and update you on this topic. I have been working on this issue for the past 2 years and was one of the staffers at the Heart and Home winter women's shelter for 10 weeks the winter of 2014. 5 weeks we were housed at PBC and the last 5 weeks at the Stanford University Lutheran Church. Lynn, Member of the Stop the Ban Coalition


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

This activity starts out as a SU project on the SU campus with SU students working the issue. There is no explanation as to why this SU project has moved off campus. Has it lost the SU management approval for a campus activity? If so why? Be specific here. No funding? Personnel problems? Problems with the homeless women?

The insurance issues are very complicated here - who is responsible for what if someone is sick or injured? The church? Who exactly?

The article says that you are using SU students to go out and talk to local churches. Is that an accurate statement?

The homeless are indicated as Palo Alto people - but if homeless then they are not specific to Palo Alto. Responder lives in Menlo Park - San Mateo County - so why not a Menlo Park location to house this effort which is closer to the campus?

Many of the other responders do not indicate Palo Alto as their residence. Are most of the responders living in San Mateo County?

You all have elected Palo Alto to absorb the homeless problems from other cities / counties in which you do not live. Why are you not working the issues within your own cities / counties? Is it because Menlo Park is in San Mateo County is not stepping up to the plate here? Should the churches in San Mateo County be helping more here?

This whole effort looks like a movement to take the problem and move it one step beyond the people who initiated it. In effect the impact is not at the responders location it has been conveniently moved to another city / county. Not on SU campus, not in San Mateo County - no support and funding?

Is there an impact? If you have food and women at a specific location then the rest of the herd is not far behind.

We have at this time a number of churches who are working the issue through existing homeless organizations. Yet their efforts are somehow marginalized by this group as not being "safe". What does that mean? That the other churches who participate are not safe? Has something happened that is indicative of other churches not being safe?

The county has a number of homeless organizations that receive funding to support this activity. My feeling is that to encourage good management and best results then support for the existing organizations and people who are well trained to work these issues should be the focus for support in Palo Alto. Our existing funding is coming from Santa Clara tax dollars.

Each County / city needs to formulate their degree of participation in homeless support - any reading of any paper tells you what the problems are here. We are stepping up to the plate here with existing organizations that receive support and dedicated help. Each city and county needs to work those issues within their existing tax base.

Read up on SF - they re going to get a building. It all takes funding and knowledgeable people to work these issues. What each city and county is doing is well documented in the newspapers. Each city needs to formulate a legal position as to who is responsible for the various elements regarding these issues. There are insurance and legal issues that need to be well defined.




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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper, RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 24, 2015 at 2:30 am

Lynn Huidekoper, RN is a registered user.

Resident 1,
There are 7,613 homeless in Santa Clara County, the 4th largest # in the US. In one of the wealthiest counties in America. There are about 157 in PA a-quite a few are vehicle dwellers. Most of the SCC homeless sleep outdoors and die from winter exposure. The few shelters house some but there aren't enough.

I would love to meet you and let you know what is happening in PA, SCC re: the homeless.

By the way-why should it matter where folks, who really care about our fellow human beings, live?

Many of the homeless have mental health problems or just can't afford the ridiculous price of housing in this area. Very few are homeless by choice.

You might be interested in visiting the Opportunity Center between PAMF and Town and Country. That's where there are low income apts. as well as services for any homeless person regardless where they live. Cities who care about their homeless have built shelters like Novato.

Palo Alto tried to kick out the homeless vehicle dwellers 2 years ago but they had to rescind the ban due to a legal decision and lawsuit. The CC shows no interest in building a shelter. They have donated funds to house the most seriously mentally or physically ill folks. Unfortunately there is NO affordable housing for them currently.

Posted by MaryW, a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:52 am
Mary answered many of your questions including the lack of connection between Stanford University and the Heart and Home Collaborative whose Board includes folks including homeless people who aren't Stanford students. They got their idea from a homeless outreach program that Harvard University students have had for awhile in Cambridge.

Christ was homeless and that is why many churches have come forward to house/shelter the homeless. But they can't do it alone and there are restrictions to how many they can house(15 max.). Volunteering is so rewarding for me.




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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper, RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 24, 2015 at 3:52 am

Lynn Huidekoper, RN is a registered user.

The Urban Ministry no longer exists. It's InnVision-Shelter Network who oversees the Hotel de Zink program in PA. They operate about 18 shelters in both Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. They have a website for info.

Many of the PA homeless are Palo Alto residents, Quite a few of the vehicle dwellers have jobs but can't afford the rents. The reason they lived at Cubberley for so long is there were showers there. The 4 main needs of the homeless are:
1) Showers(they have them at the OC)
2) Laundry facilities to wash clothes(at the OC)
3) Storage for their belongings(many rent storage units)
4) Transportation ( bus passes for those without cars). gas ,registration, maintenance for those with cars.

The shelters only allow them to come around 5-8P and leave at 7AM. They then either go to work or take the bus to the OC or Walmart where it's warm inside and they have newspapers and coffee. They also take public trans. to medical appts,, social workers,etc. They are all on housing waiting lists.

The shelters can only take 15 people every night. They can stay for 3 months then have to find other housing or the streets. In the winter many ride the VTA 22 bus up and down the Peninsula to stay warm. It is called the "Hotel 22".

I live in Menlo Park but there are only about 16 folks(per the census a few years ago). They have food and prayer Tues. Thursday at the train station provided by a church in RWC. One of the CC members had an idea to build a shelter on the VA grounds for the 16 folks but that is on hold probably due to lack of adequate funding. There is dinner and Bingo the last Sat. of each month at Menlo Pres.-they also are in the Hotel de Zink program and house 15 people every November.

The safety issue you keep mentioning is the fact that many co-ed shelters(not in churches where there are only 15 people and strict rules) the women have been sexually harassed, things stolen,etc. Several of the women in the H&H shelter had been raped living on the streets. Having worked in the H&H shelter a year ago I agree that men and women should be housed separately. Some women come from abusive relationships and don't want their presence known.
Women have needs that are unique and bond much more easily if together. However, there aren't enough shelters to do this. That's why the women, many of whom have lived in many different shelters over the years, loved the H&H shelter.
The Sunnyvale Armory housed 130 homeless people during the cold winter months. That was a large space with men, women and children all together. Very little privacy and not enough showers, toilets.

The We Hope shelter in East Palo Alto is helping folks in San Mateo Cty. and EPA. Pastor Bains took in SCC residents this past winter for 4 months because the Sunnyvale Armory Winter shelter(the only cold weather shelter in Northern SCC) was taken down to build low income and homeless housing.

Stop the Ban Coalition feels that this is a regional issue so we follow and assist in whatever city needs help or encouragement to help the homeless. We don't just look at one city to help.

As far as media coverage Sue Dremann, staff writer for the PA Weekly, has been writing excellent articles about the homeless in PA for the past several years. 2 issues had front page photos of the homeless including one on the mentally ill homeless and Momentum, a mental health service that does excellent outreach to the homeless. You can look in their archives for all of her coverage which includes one article about the H&H shelter. Also the Daily Post.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2015 at 8:48 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

No one is answering the direct questions here.
Where is the funding coming from to support the homeless efforts? That is currently - not last year or the previous year.

How is that funding solicited and received?

In the event of a medical emergency who is responsible for the individual if staying at a church overnight?

Who is legally responsible is there is a problem that occurs?

If there is an existing network that has worked out these problems then that is where the funding needs to be going. Maybe you should consider that one organization that can serve a number of situations and has a well defined network is in the best position to work the logistics of coordination with the specific county points of reference for homeless activity.

Running from county to county may nor be productive as each has its own set of protocols and political requirements and funding.

If this activity is spread too thin over too many individual efforts competing for a limited amount of funding and support then it loses it's political ability to function.

That is my suggestion lacking any nuts and bolts response to questions that need to be addressed.


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2015 at 9:54 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The goal here is to use the county fairgrounds during the rainy period. They have extensive parking, large floor space, extensive kitchen facilities, and extensive bathroom facilities. By consolidating the activity the cost can be reduced substantially and it is on county property which is self insured.

Also - any policing can be consolidated to reduce costs. The county has a homeless group that is funded so should start working this issue now - don't wait until it starts raining then try to justify shaky fall-back positions. If everyone waits around then the fall-back positions will not work.


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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper, RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 30, 2015 at 2:56 am

Lynn Huidekoper, RN is a registered user.

Resident 1,
This Mercury article may help clarify what is being done in SCC for the homeless. A comprehensive report has just come out.
Web Link


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Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2015 at 10:25 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I have read the article - you will note that it focuses on the limited funding available. The funding is county by county. As a spokesperson you need to demonstrate management of the political and financial aspects to create a successful effort.

You keep assuming that you are the POC for homeless activity yet the nuts and bolts - the management of same is not evide4nt. Presenting what other people have said - I have read it all.

A women's centered activity is now part of the Social Services on Cambridge in PA. I hope they are successful in their efforts.


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Posted by Lynn Huidekoper, RN
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2015 at 4:24 am

Lynn Huidekoper, RN is a registered user.

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows,

Are you calling me the Point of Contact for the homeless activity? I am not sure why you are saying that. So far I seem to be one of the posters who actually has been working with the homeless for 2 years in Santa Clara County working with both the Palo Alto City Council members and the SCC Board of Supervisors.
You state, "As a spokesperson you need to demonstrate management of the political and financial aspects to create a successful effort." The cities in SCC and the County are doing just that. Each city is trying to help the homelees as their funding allows them. It's all about money. It sounds like you are interested in the issue. Have you thought of joining those org. working to help the homeless so you can be part of the solution?

Some of the activities I have been involved with are:
I worked as night shift staff staff for a homeless women's shelter for 4 winter months in 2 PA churches in 2014. I sat on a Homeless Task Force in Sunnyvale with a large attendance of all the stakeholders(including homeless individuals) interested in finding a replacement for the Sunnyvale Armory Cold Weather Shelter that was torn down to build low-income housing with 47 units specifically set aside for the homeless.

I have done a lot of work learning about the needs of the homeless in this area and how I can advocate for them. I am currently working on pursuing a safe parking program in PA for the vehicle dwellers similar to a successful one in Santa Barbara that has been featured on CNN. PA City Council members researched this program in the past several years and 2 members attended a presentation last year by the SB folks who flew up to PA.
It would be great if you would share your ideas and expertise to help solve this enormous humanitarian crisis. As you saw, if your read the report, SCC has the 4th largest # of homeless in the US-7,613.


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