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Homeless Shelters Should Be Moved From Downtown Area

Original post made by Resident, Crescent Park, on Jan 11, 2008

It's a new year, new City Council and time for all of the homeless shelters to be moved out of Palo Alto's downtown area and away from all the local schools. Let's get it right this year. It's not fair to the homeless, the kids, local businesses or residents to simply allow this situation to continue. Look around Palo Alto and wake up. This is the year and now is the time. Let's protect the kids, local residents and businesses while still helping those in need. Let's also recognize that many of those who beg for money downtown are not interested in doing anything else. It's a good deal for them to have homeless shelters in the downtown area where begging for money is possible and where drugs and alcohol are readily available. It's a bad deal for everyone else.

Comments (28)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2008 at 10:02 am

I am with you on this one, but where do you propose to put them? The Baylands by the duck pond may be a possibility.

Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Near the Palo Alto airport?? No! That's a great place for people to walk/jog.

Yes, something should be done. Maybe this year?

Posted by Protecting Who?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Proposing this, would you make an exception for any homeless families with schoolchildren in our schools to be able to stay in currently existing shelters near the schools?

(And yes, I think that homeless families with children should be able to seek shelter away from the "vagrant" and "suspicious" types. If you think that kids with homes are "at risk", what do you think about the risks to actual homeless children?)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 11, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Protecting Who - I have never seen a homeless families downtown. Are there any? How many? Where are they staying in the downtown area?

Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 11, 2008 at 8:53 pm

I thought one of the reasons for locating the Opportunity Center where it is was accessibility to public transportation (VTA 22, mainly).

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2008 at 8:50 am

WilliamR - There are many other locations that are not a block away from a local high school, a few blocks away from an all female high school and the downtown area of Palo Alto that would still be accessible to a VTA line. It is not in the interest of the residents of Palo Alto to place homeless shelters in the downtown area and close to schools. Palo Altans can be compassionate without threatening the safety of kids and without ruining a vibrant downtown area.

Posted by Irvin
a resident of University South
on Jan 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Help me out here, folks.
It's my understanding that Palo Alto has no homeless shelters other than the rotating "Hotel DeZinc" Web Link - a system of churches, synagogues, agreeing to let homeless people stay the night - but as it rotates among them, and the locations are spread out throughout town, they are not exactly traditional shelters.

As for the Opportunity Center, while functioning as a much needed "drop-in" during the limited hours they are open, it doesn't allow for homeless people to stay the night
Web Link

I am somewhat familiar with traditional homeless shelters.
I often go to Sacramento and stay at motels along Jibboom St.
(I can offer recommendations, BTW)
Before I discovered the ped/bike path along the Sac' River that is parallel to it, I just followed a road map and stumbled across the Union Gospel Mission (Web Link

It is located in an industrial area for good reason - you have no idea of how many people line up to get a room, and even camp out near it.

I think we, Palo Alto, clearly have a homeless problem, downtown, but we don't have homeless shelters - anywhere. Perhaps that's one of the reasons for the problem?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2008 at 7:34 am

Part of Sacramento's problem is Roseville sending indigents to Sacramento as city policy. Skid row, first through 4th st, tracks to M street was home to hundreds of flop houses, and the area East of 16th street between the SP and the American River had th world's largest hobo jungle.
We need hostels and caravanseries in all cities both from compassion and as a public health measure.

Posted by Done Deal
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2008 at 7:56 am

Resident, the Opportunity Center ended up being located on Encina Street after a long and protracted examination of all possible sites in the City.

I recall that no one wanted it in the Downtown area East of the railroad tracks, not the residents or retail shop owners. It had to be built close to where many of the homeless hung out and away from residences; the only place available was on Encina Street.

Anyway, the Opportunity Center is built now, and it's a done deal.

Posted by sharing the neighborhood
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2008 at 12:06 am

Get a life, stop trying to change something that the professionals who are trying to run the OC are doing....that's THEIR job...

There are homeless people here in Palo Alto, there HAS been for years and years. Many way back when arrived in the area on Southern Pacific boxcars!

No doubt, there will ALWAYS be homeless people. AND there will ALWAYS be complainers, too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by sharing the neighborhood
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2008 at 12:18 am

to "resident of Crescent Park"...So what do you think, we should put salt peter in the food at the OC because the OC is close to the all girl's school?? Redundant.
Yes, there ARE young children at the OC. But they are incognito. They walk around he streets, just as other youngsters do. They just don't have the money to hang out at Town and Country at Kirk's or Cold Stone Ice Cream store though. But they ARE around. And watching you watching the neighborhood goings on.

Posted by Done Deal
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

Resident from Crescent Park, the location of the OC was debated thoroughly during several Agenda items before the City Council. Where were you? Why didn't you come forward back then and tell Council what you thought of the idea.

I have learned over the years that it is pointless to protest a decision of Council after the decision has been made. You must get organized, do your homework, and express your views before the vote taken.

Posted by Alyssa
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2008 at 9:28 am

It's right that it is difficult to change decisions once they are made. But in the case of the OC, a strong case can be made that we can make a new decision - based on the facts as we know them now, not on the facts apparent when the OC was built - that would benefit both the City and the homeless.

It is clear that the OC has drawn even more homeless to our city than ever. The dangerous and deleterious effects on our city, neighborhoods and schools are documented in this and other threads, even discounting for a bit of exaggeration and hysteria. The quality of life for residents is suffering, and the wandering mentally unstable people who make up a large proportion of the homeless do seem like a tragic incident in waiting.

But much less has been said about the plight of the homeless drawn here to this expensive area, where the contrast between their existences and the lives of the prosperous and educated people in whose midst they find themselves could not be starker. This cannot make their lives seem even more hopeless than they are. How can they ever pretend that they can "make it" here - even if they do clean up their acts. It's no wonder they are aggressive and hostile so often. It's no wonder they commit so many petty crimes.

Think of the higher expenses it costs to minister to the homeless here, as opposed to a lower cost area - where they'd fit into the community and local economy! It's surely an order of magnitude.

The real estate the OC sits on is VERY valuable. If that were sold and a new facility were built in some low cost area in the valley, for example, much more aid could be offered to those in need. MUCH MORE! And for those who did manage to be lifted out of their dependency, there are cities where they could find employment and housing that matches their skills and income levels.

It is cruel to attract the homeless here where they cannot succeed. Those who really care about the homeless should argue for the closing of the OC, and its relocation to a place more conducive to REALLY helping the homeless. They don't need to be kept around here as object lessons for those wishing to make a statement about the heartlessness of modern life if the US. That's cruel.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Done Deal - City Council received many emails about this issue and just like the new police station, the people of Palo Alto are ignored if City Council really wants to go forward with a project on their own agenda.

Sharing the Neighborhood - Yes, there has always been a few homeless in the downtown area, but to assert that the number of homeless in town has not increased dramatically is just not accurate. We are being overrun by the homeless and nobody on City Council seems to notice. It's amazing. I'm not going to notice any of their requests for money in the future either.

Irvin - We do indeed have homeless shelters downtown and the Opportunity Center is just one of them. You seem to be very familiar with the center. As you know, one reason that there is such a center is for homeless in the area. There are also several hotels downtown that house the homeless.

We have a major problem at this point and it will increase as time passes. City Council did not do the residents of Palo Alto any favors by attracting homeless to the city.

Posted by Carroll
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 14, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I urge you to visit to learn about a very successful program for the homeless and unhoused. Starting on January 21, there will be an exhibit about this innovative program in the City Hall corridor leading to the Council Chambers.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Homeless people are just people without homes. What makes them any different than those who have homes? Where is your love?

Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 14, 2008 at 4:08 pm

I'm perfectly happy with the Opportunity Center in its current location. It's residents don't seem to be endangering anyone. I haven't noticed a significant change in the homeless population in Palo Alto since the OC was built. While there have been a lot of homeless in Palo Alto for many years, I'm certainly not feeling "overrun" or endangered.

People who reside in the OC or the downtown hotels are not homeless, unless you define homelessness as not owning a home or not paying typical Palo Alto rental prices.

Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Alyssa- I'm curious, can you cite specific exmples of problems or incidents due to the homeless visiting or hanging around the OC? While I agree I'd rather not have homeless in my area, I haven't heard of any increase in crime after the OC opened. But maybe I'm uninformed.

Posted by Lux
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

Step out of your sheltered mind. Take the time to get to know the homeless. Invite a homeless person to join you for lunch or coffee. Listen to his or her life story. He or she could teach you something valuable for you to use in your own life.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I have spoken with many homeless people over the years. Most of them are mentally ill and/or substance abusers. The ones who were reasonably sane were in a short term pinch that they resolved with a little help from relief services like St. Vincent DePaul.
I opened my home on two different occasions to a homless person. It became clear within a short period of time, that they had serious mental disturbances. They could not hold their jobs, stop substance abuse, stay on medications that kept them functional, or keep from hurting themselves.
One young woman would cut herself whenever she felt alone. Our family had to repeatedly rush her to Chope for emergency care. Chope would not hold her or treat her. I had to file for disability for her. It took over a year for her to get covered. Then we had to try to find section 8 housing, a social worker, and a psychiatrist. That took another year. My family and I were exhausted. She did not stay in treatment and no one knows where she went.
This situation is ridiculous. When will we as a compassionate society reopen state mental hospitals?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2008 at 2:44 pm

I agree, but it's not going to happen. There should be state and federal run mental hospitals. It's only fair for those that need the services and for everyone who encounters the frequently aggressive panhandlers when all you are trying to do is walk the dog or spend some time with your kids. It's not fair to anyone to attract homeless to Palo Alto and then just leave them on the street. Having said that, I am not willing to let the downtown area become overrun with rude and loud homeless who choose to stay that way. I don't want them hanging around downtown where kids and the elderly are also present. This situation is just asking for trouble and I can see the lawsuit now against the City of Palo Alto. It's going to be memorable.

Brian - You do not go downtown very often if you have not noticed an increase in the number of homeless downtown. It has grown significantly since the OC opened. Palo Alto is becoming known in the homeless population as a good place to settle. Is that what you want? I don't.

Resident APN - The homeless has been a real problem downtown. There are groups of them that become very aggressive for money. I have watched on numerous occasions when leud remarks are made to young women as they walk around downtown. I have watched young families running down the street away from homeless individuals. I have witnesses small dogs being viciously kicked by the homeless. I have been approached while eating outside at a downtown restaurant by a homeless man who stood there shouting at me. He didn't know me and I didn't know him. I know several hang out on benches by the local all-girl high school, Castellja and I know of many incidents at Town and Country. I also know that recently at least one homeless person approached a young girl from Palo Alto High School and then followed her back to the campus. Not surprising since the campus is only a block away from the shelter. There are many more examples, but suffice it to say that I don't want Palo Alto to turn into another Berkeley. They are still trying to get the homeless out so that they can revive the downtown areas. Palo Alto needs to move homeless shelters from the downtown area and the police need to provide foot patrols in the downtown area. Otherwise, Palo Alto is in for some permanent problems that will not go away and will grow with time.

Posted by Chris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Good thinking. Let's round them up at midnight, drive them out and put them in a concentration camp. We could have two camps, ones for Jewish homeless and one for the rest. By the way, I liked your idea so much, I sent your name onto the Aryan brotherhood, who will be getting back to you shortly. We need more people who think like you.

Those pesky homeless people should never be allowed to bother us. They're only in it for one thing and probably enjoy being homeless or they wouldn't be in that situation. We should probably, to make it official, first formally declare war on them though. Then we could invade Berkeley with a clear conscience, where Bin Laden is likely hiding anyway.

Keep the faith, bro.

Posted by Get Real
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Chris, until our society sees fit to house and treat the homeless (most of whom are mentally ill), I'm sure we can count on you, a good caring person, to house them yourself.

Posted by Fern
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2008 at 9:35 am

Deuteronomy 15:11

"For the poor will never cease from the land therefore I command you, saying, You should open you hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy in your land."

Proverbs 14:31
" He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy."

Posted by woodson
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 18, 2008 at 8:58 am

just give them all quarters and point them to redwood city

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Hey this is just a whisper, would not want anyone to hear.

Palo Alto has HOMELESS...

Quick round them up and put them in a CAMP, with barbed wire and armed guards with the shoot to kill orders.

Do medical experiments on them, Zap them with 10,000 volts of wind generated power, chain them to a dump truck and make them fill pot holes. Just shaking the bush BOSS man FRANK. Put a bottle in front of them, Ok Frank just give them a frontal Labotomy. You are right who needs water. Hey they like to freeze to death in the winter. It is a new sport who can slip into a coma faster? The last one to die wins, I guess.. Its all there faults. They all have eating disorders{ NO FOOD TO EAT}

They are much greener than the asian lady and have a much better carbon foot print then the mayor{joke}.. They are a threat... Of the highest kind.. some might be ex-city employee's scape goats.

When the citizens have to pay to remodel Franks crib. Maybe we could give the homeless his old gold covered toilets?? oh, oops the new toilets are the gold plated ones, he gets them half price.. Sell them to the homeless maybe you can get some of the 67,000.00 back spent on the bike race???

Oh there I go again CRazy fool I am.. Really I think the City Council fears the competition for the open seats come election time?

Just let the DEpartment of HUMAN {aka Inhuman} resources handle it. someone owes payback for a big increase in Salary and decrease in work load???
You will never hear from those homeless things again..... People? is that what you call them???
Get the soap out this is Palo Alto, do not call them people.... Bad person, go do time out with Emily... 15 days should do.

Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Hey lets not forget the American Red Cross, They have been seen talking to the homeless, Some people are saying that they are helping these homeless men,women and children.

They might even be helping them with medical treatment/care or caring about them as people.

They must not know this is Palo Alto and those things, are from some other planet and need to go back..

Where the heck is this planet earth, The City manager does not know where it is. City Council has no clue???
If you go in the direction that staff tells you. YOU WILL FALL OFF THE EARTH.. It is FLAT.
I think those homeless started the round planet cult..

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Escondido School

on Jun 6, 2017 at 3:24 am

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