News


County activates cold-weather shelter services

Palo Alto offers limited help, greater services lie south or in East Palo Alto

Plummeting temperatures have prompted Santa Clara County officials to open additional bed spaces to help shelter homeless people through next week.

The county's Office of Supportive Housing and the Office of Emergency Services activated its inclement-weather shelters on Friday, Dec. 28, and plans to keep them open through this Tuesday, Jan. 8 officials said.

The Inclement Weather Plan, which supplements the regular, ongoing cold weather shelter program, activates the shelters under three forecasted conditions: an overnight low temperature of 40 degrees or lower with a probability of rain of less than 50 percent; an overnight low of 45 degrees or lower with a probability of rain of 50 percent or greater and a period of rain for 48 hours or more that is likely to result in flooding. This week, overnight temperatures through this Thursday are forecasted to be in the 30s and are forecasted to be in the low- to mid-40s through Sunday.

A considerable number of people would likely be exposed to the cold without shelter this winter. In North County, defined as Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Mountain View, about 1,002 individuals were found to be experiencing homelessness, according to the county's 2017 Homeless Census and Survey, which is taken every two years. Eighty-four percent were living outside of shelters, compared to 74 percent countywide.

Moreover, the county's greater 2017 Homeless Census and Survey identified 7,394 homeless people Santa Clara County. Of all who were homeless, about one-third were unaccompanied children and transition-age youth, 96 percent of whom were unsheltered; one-third were chronically homeless individuals, with about 86 percent unsheltered. About 660 individuals were veterans, with 68 percent being unsheltered, and 294 were families comprising of 1,075 members with 28 percent unsheltered.

But despite these numbers, there aren't enough beds to go around, and the shelters always see more people during freezing-weather nights.

"Typically, when they come in at this time of year the shelters are full to capacity," said Pastor Paul Bains, director of Project WeHOPE, which operates an emergency shelter in neighboring East Palo Alto.

Palo Alto has only the 15-bed Hotel de Zink, operated by the nonprofit organization LifeMoves, and the 15-bed shelter run by Heart and Home Collaborative. The next closest shelter supported by the county is Project WeHOPE in neighboring San Mateo County. The shelter serves residents of both counties and has on average about 50-54 beds.

About 30 of those beds on any given day are occupied by homeless clients through referral programs. But Bains said that currently all of the beds are used for inclement-weather emergency housing. Because of the predicted freezing temperatures, the shelter will accommodate a total of 60 adult men and women, he said. The organization puts families in need into hotels.

Most of the homeless served by Project WeHOPE are female. With an especially limited supply of women-only shelters, the Heart and Home Collaborative, a grassroots volunteer organization, runs its women's shelter out of three rotating Palo Alto churches: Peninsula Bible Church, University Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church. This week, the shelter has been set up at Peninsula Bible, said Aparna Ananthasubramaniam, the organization's secretary. The collaborative operates the shelter for six weeks at each location. This year, the shelter opened Dec. 8 and will remain available through April 8, she said.

"We've had no trouble filling the shelter," she said, noting there aren't any spaces currently available, but the organization needs volunteers.

Officials for LifeMoves Hotel de Zink, which operates a rotating shelter at a different church each month in Palo Alto, could not be reached, but clients are referred through the Opportunity Center's case-manager program, said an Opportunity Center staff member who declined to be named. The center, which offers comprehensive services through its drop-in center, refers homeless clients to the 140-bed North County Winter Shelter in Sunnyvale and the 105-bed Armory in Gilroy.

But 725 of the 925 inclement-weather, emergency-shelter beds available to Santa Clara County residents are located in south Santa Clara County. In addition, four overnight warming shelters, some of which have places to sleep, are all located in San Jose. Daytime warming shelters are available throughout the county. In Palo Alto, the site is at the Opportunity Center.

Patty Eaton, spokeswoman for the county's Office of Emergency Services, said that it is possible the county would extend the extra beds based on the weather forecast. Officials look at weather reports and hold a conference call to decide on the days to open the shelters. The county Office of Supportive Housing makes the decision, she added.

RESOURCES:

People in need of services and emergency-shelter resources and those who wish to volunteer or make donations can contact the following organizations in Palo Alto:

Heart and Home Collaborative: sleeping mats, meals — by referral. hhcollab.org; info@hhcollab.org

Project WeHOPE:, 1854 Bay Road, East Palo Alto, daily 4:30 p.m.-7:30 a.m. — by referral and drop-in. 650-779-4635.

The Opportunity Center:, 33 Encina Ave., Palo Alto, Monday-Friday 8 a.m-4 p.m. Closed on Jan. 1, 2019. Refers to different locations for shelter; offers comprehensive services. 650-853-0321.

Hotel de Zink: Contact the Opportunity Center — By referral.

North County Winter Shelter: — Operated by HomeFirst — 999 Hamlin Court, Sunnyvale, 5 p.m.-8 a.m. daily — by referral. 408- 854-4670.

Anyone in need is encouraged to call the following county hotlines for services:

2-1-1: For health and human services in Santa Clara County.

Homeless Helpline: County Office of Supportive Housing, 408-793-0550 to ask for assistance or report a homeless person in need in Santa Clara County (excluding San Jose).

HomeFirst Homeless Helpline: 408-510-7600 or email the HomeFirst Helpline at Outreach@homefirstscc.org.

A complete list of warming shelters and overnight emergency shelters can be found here.

Homeless individuals can register to receive text messages about services by sending a text to 888777 with BADWEATHER in the message.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by Most PA Residents Don't Care
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 1, 2019 at 3:48 pm

It would be feasible to use the gym at Cubberley but apparently no one has considered this possibility.

Simply put, most Palo Altans don't care. They would rather the homeless go somewhere else and freeze to death or perish from pneumonia. Welcome to nouveau PA where the elite only mingle amongst themselves.

I've allowed some homeless individuals to spend the night in my garage but now some neighbors are complaining. Apparently they think they are going to get burglarized and/or their residential property values will go down. Such shallow people.

Kudos to the above listed organizations for doing what they can.


12 people like this
Posted by Homeless in PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2019 at 7:55 am

A homeless 'tent city' at the PA City Hall Plaza would certainly draw some media attention. Perhaps this is the next step in generating further awareness.

The majority of Palo Alto residents are not known for their compassion and would just as soon look the other way in regards to the homeless issue...this is par for the course.

It seems that most Palo Altans only get up in arms over homeless issues like the President Hotel when the apparent 'victims' meet a certain social standard and the scenario is viewed as a direct infringement on specific and individually-based Palo Alto quality of life perspectives.

Despite its reputation as a progressive and liberal-minded city, Palo Alto residents can be very judgemental on their own accord...especially when it comes to social issues of a broader scale. Money and self-importance is their blinder.










Like this comment
Posted by Facebook User
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 3, 2019 at 8:32 am

There was an interesting meme doing the rounds on Facebook about all the hype over the song "Baby it's cold outside". It seems people are more concerned about the song offended than being offended by the fact that there are people who are sleeping outside in the cold.

If everyone who complained about the song thought about what it really means to sleep outside overnight in the cold and did something practical to help them, it would make a much bigger difference to the world than the outrage about the song.


2 people like this
Posted by RE Agent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2019 at 2:26 pm

> The majority of Palo Alto residents are not known for their compassion and would just as soon look the other way in regards to the homeless issue...this is par for the course.

How about if 1 out of 5 adult Palo Alto residents bought either Patagonia fleece-wear, a North Face down sleeping bag (or down jacket/vest), or even a nice dome tent and distributed them to the first homeless person they encountered on a particular day?

Wouldn't that would go a long ways towards showing community concern + it would maintain a certain upscale appearance among our city's homeless population? People could even distribute take-out orders from some of Palo Alto's finer restaurants as well.

In Palo Alto, there's no need for the homeless to look so downtrodden. We can all help by improving their outwards appearance.

This consideration will also be of value to those who happen to have vagrants in their respective PA neighborhoods. If prospective home buyers see nicely attired homeless people, they will not question the safety or investment value of the respective homes being listed for sale.

We can all do our part for both the homeless population in Palo Alto and residential property values as well.

Like a house, looking good goes a long ways in terms of overall perceptions.


1 person likes this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2019 at 9:22 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

The sarcastic and accusatory posts here are despicable. The fact is that Palo Altans are among the most generous and helpful people toward the homeless in the entire world. Homelessness is a nationwide problem and it's not possible for one town of 60,000 residents to solve it, but that doesn't mean we don't have compassion and care for the downtrodden. Meanwhile the President of the country is more interested in shutting down the government and building walls than helping Americans get back on their feet.


13 people like this
Posted by Amazing Grace
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2019 at 9:27 pm

> The fact is that Palo Altans are among the most generous and helpful people toward the homeless in the entire world.

Which world are you living in or referring to?

Inquiring minds want to know.


16 people like this
Posted by Amazing Grace
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2019 at 9:41 pm

> In Palo Alto, there's no need for the homeless to look so downtrodden. We can all help by improving their outwards appearance.

^^^Was this your prime example of Palo Alto generosity?

Instead of 'spare change' we'll just hand-out gift cards to Macy's and Nordstroms.


11 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2019 at 8:10 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: The fact is that Palo Altans are among the most generous and helpful people toward the homeless in the entire world.

^^^A bit of stretch, wouldn't you say? Most Palo Alto residents (along with their NIMBY persuasions & sensitivities) are not very welcoming to transient RVs parked along the streets...even if parked far from their own neighborhoods of actual residency.

Many are 'helpful' from the standpoint of complaining to the PAPD or the PA Weekly over these RVs and 'generous' when it comes to editorial support of the homeless who meet specific criteria (i.e. the soon-to-be displaced residents of the President Hotel).

Then again, this so-called support of the evicted President Hotel residents might simply be predicated on anti-development sentiments rather than any actual concern for a homeless individual.

Touching.





3 people like this
Posted by RV Dweller
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2019 at 12:47 pm

> The majority of Palo Alto residents are not known for their compassion and would just as soon look the other way in regards to the homeless issue...this is par for the course.
> Most Palo Alto residents (along with their NIMBY persuasions & sensitivities) are not very welcoming to transient RVs parked along the streets...even if parked far from their own neighborhoods of actual residency.
Lastly,
> In Palo Alto, there's no need for the homeless to look so downtrodden. We can all help by improving their outwards appearance.

Which is why me and my 'downtrodden' family will continue to park our run-down looking RV wherever we darn well please in Palo Alto. You got it?


27 people like this
Posted by to RV dweller
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2019 at 7:53 pm

I'm curious why you prefer to park your RV illegally in Palo Alto rather than legally in an RV park with proper facilities in one of the surrounding communities. A friend of mine resides in a mobile home park in Santa Clara, which seems lovely.


8 people like this
Posted by The Patriot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:27 am

The Patriot is a registered user.

"I'm curious why you prefer to park your RV illegally in Palo Alto rather than legally in an RV park with proper facilities in one of the surrounding communities. A friend of mine resides in a mobile home park in Santa Clara, which seems lovely."

**A typical smug PA resident NIMBY response. FYI...Some transient RV owners/dwellers cannot afford to rent the space in a 'lovely' RV park. Care to take up a collection and contribute? I thought so.

"The fact is that Palo Altans are among the most generous and helpful people toward the homeless in the entire world."

**Yes. They most certainly are....not in terms of any money but in terms of self-serving suggestions.






2 people like this
Posted by RV Dweller
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:56 pm

>> I'm curious why you prefer to park your RV illegally in Palo Alto rather than legally in an RV park with proper facilities in one of the surrounding communities. A friend of mine resides in a mobile home park in Santa Clara, which seems lovely."

How 'lovely'. Would they still be your friend if they parked their RV in front of your house or somewhere else in Palo Alto where it really doesn't concern you?


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Posted by RV Dweller, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> How 'lovely'. Would they still be your friend if they parked their RV in front of your house or somewhere else in Palo Alto where it really doesn't concern you?

Honestly, if we had a well-accepted generally-recognized algorithm for determining who really is a long-term resident of Palo Alto, I would happily contribute additional tax dollars to pay for apartments for all needy long-term Palo Alto residents. Likewise, a home somewhere in California of all needy long-term California residents, and, likewise, a home somewhere in the US for all long-term US residents. I would like to add "the world" to that equation as well, but, nobody has figured out how to do that efficiently and effectively.

That said, I don't recognize your right to park your RV on public streets, in Palo Alto or anywhere else. Or, for RVs to be used generally in lieu of either housing or hotels/motels. RVs are blight, akin to biblical mildew, locusts, and grasshoppers. RVs are a terribly inefficient method of creating housing. They also are contribute to employers unfairly exploiting taxpaying residents. Why should Stanford employees be allowed to park RVs on El Camino. Stanford should house its own employees, or, pay them enough to find their own places.

In short, I hope you find a nice apartment soon.


2 people like this
Posted by Waving Bye-Bye From Ross
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2019 at 5:35 pm

> RVs are blight, akin to biblical mildew, locusts, and grasshoppers. RVs are a terribly inefficient method of creating housing.
> A friend of mine resides in a mobile home park in Santa Clara, which seems lovely.
> In Palo Alto, there's no need for the homeless to look so downtrodden. We can all help by improving their outwards appearance.
We can all do our part for both the homeless population in Palo Alto and residential property values as well.
> The fact is that Palo Altans are among the most generous and helpful people toward the homeless in the entire world.

And the kicker...

> How about if 1 out of 5 adult Palo Alto residents bought either Patagonia fleece-wear, a North Face down sleeping bag (or down jacket/vest), or even a nice dome tent and distributed them to the first homeless person they encountered on a particular day?

Wouldn't that would go a long ways towards showing community concern + it would maintain a certain upscale appearance among our city's homeless population? People could even distribute take-out orders from some of Palo Alto's finer restaurants as well.

Excuse me while I go upchuck dear Palo Altans as your 'typical' heartfelt concern for others less fortunate is truly touching and magnanimous...not.

Nice to be living somewhere else now. A nice (and presumably wealthy family from overseas purchased our former residence in PA) and they can deal with this pervasive mentality...incredible.


1 person likes this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jan 11, 2019 at 11:34 am

If the estimated 3 million plus illegal Aliens in this state were deported. I’m sure the RV dwellers could find affordable housing.


15 people like this
Posted by self-deportation conservative
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jan 11, 2019 at 11:53 am

" in this state were deported "

Or we could just amnesty them like Ronald Reagan did.

The republicans had the house and senate for two years - why didn't Trump deport them? Just too busy getting his family and the corporate tax cuts? Or too impudent of a politician to get anything accomplished?

Republican donors/owners/masters (billionaires) love low wage labor. They don't care about actually helping anyone but themselves.

Man, that's really sad, the way they used conservative voters. Low energy, too.


13 people like this
Posted by Cisco
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:06 pm

I am not an illegal alien from Mexico but some say I look like one. Born in Jalisco and legally immigrated to the United States at 4 (with my parents).

I am also an anti-illegal immigration registered Republican voter. These Honduran refugees need to go through proper channels prior to entry. In the meantime, they should be repelled at the borders. I do not like (and resent) being compared with them by strangers who do not know me personally. I am a union tradesman (welder) and pay my federal/state/county taxes accordingly. I do not pay these taxes to support undocumented refugees or their kind through entitlement social services.

The borders need to be secured as some Middle-Easterners also look Hispanic and even speak Spanish. My Iranian friend is sometimes mistaken for a Mexican as he resembles Cheech Marin o Cheech and Chong. He is also an American citizen.

^^^^Some terrorists will be able to sneak into the USA if borders are not secured.
While a wall may be excessive and expensive, perhaps the National Guard can assist and support the US Border Patrol for added manpower coverage.

Our system cannot support and has no obligation to assist illegal immigrants from anywhere. That is their home country's responsibility.





6 people like this
Posted by A Prerequisite For Entry Into the USA
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 12, 2019 at 2:05 pm

We need more Cisco's & fewer wall-bangers as seen on the TV news.

A high school education and/or a viable trade should be a minimum prerequisite for entry into the United States.

Social services and ESL classes are already overburdened.


Like this comment
Posted by Warm patio for all
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 12, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Nice. Take a thread about helping homeless and turn it into racist rants filled with lies (middle eastern terrorists are not crossing the border, etc.)

What would Jesus do?


4 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2019 at 5:18 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: Take a thread about helping homeless and turn it into racist rants filled with lies (middle eastern terrorists are not crossing the border, etc.)

What would Jesus do?

Jesus would probably try to express compassion for all. On the other hand, he did get the short end of the stick for sticking to his convictions.

Curious. What is the point of asking what he might/would do? Nobody on Earth lives up to his standards so it is a moot point at best.





Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 6,423 views

Environmentalists will soon be fighting housing advocates over what to do with the SF Bay locally
By Diana Diamond | 25 comments | 1,320 views

On Metaphor and Mortality
By Aldis Petriceks | 0 comments | 1,158 views

Premarital and Existing Couples: Marriage Rules: Yours, Mine, or Ours?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 898 views

Big Island Food Party!
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 605 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details