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Interim shelter programs are heralded as the homelessness solution that California's been waiting for. So why aren't they working?

Original post made on Mar 31, 2023

Underlying the challenges that interim shelters face in getting their residents housed is something that no shelter or city can fix on its own: There's simply not enough affordable housing in the Bay Area for everyone who needs it.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 30, 2023, 9:42 AM

Comments (6)

Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2023 at 9:28 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

Supervisor Joe Simitian views this program as a success, saying "that measuring a program's success isn't black and white. It "depends on what your definition of 'working' is," he said.

"When the temperatures drop down in the 30s and it's pouring rain, giving somebody a place that is safe, warm and dry — I consider that 'working,'" he said.

My definition of "working" is that the women there do not have to accept sexual abuse and harassment as the price of shelter. I think most normal people would agree.

As the companion story to this one documents here: Web Link this program is not "working" when women report being sexually harassed by multiple residents and nothing is done and the residents committing harassment are not removed.

Does Supervisor Simitian think that women should be willing to accept sexual harassment in exchange for temporary shelter from weather? Does he think that is "working"?

OBVIOUSLY this program should not mix random men with DV victims. The County should fund more DV shelters for women fleeing DV with appropriate flexible time of residency allowed, out of funds for homelessness, since such victims are BY DEFINITION homeless. Santa Clara County has never gotten the message that women fleeing DV ARE HOMELESS and deserve safe, separate housing paid for from funds set aside for homelessness. When women are harassed as the price of a roof over their heads it's not "working" Joe.

Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2023 at 9:50 am

Marie is a registered user.

Low income housing is a difficult problem. When the Opportunity Center in Palo Alto opened, the goal was temporary housing until residents could be permanently housed. I notice in the article that it is now considered permanent housing. Until more low income housing is built, “temporary housing” needs to allow longer stays. A good model is the development of Buena Vista Park in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, most of the site is being designed for low density one story housing. It could accommodate far more housing. The other huge problem is disruptive residents who make it difficult for their neighbors with problems such as sexual harassment and filthy bathrooms. Community bathrooms just don’t work if everyone is not committed to keep them clean. And frankly, substance abusers, especially while using, often behave in ways they would not when sober. I don’t have a solution. But forcing people to share community facilities with those unable or unwilling to abide by minimal standards of cleanliness and behavior, is a recipe for failure for the unhorsed.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2023 at 11:15 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I would suggest that not all homeless people are the same, meaning their reasons for being homeless, their standards of living communally, their lifestyle and their desire for somewhere dry to sleep. As a result of these differences, the answer is not one fit suits all.

This is being forgotten in nearly all the shelters/small homes/solutions being touted.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 2, 2023 at 10:08 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

It isn’t a matter of the taxpayers providing (endless) free or subsidized housing.
- It may be in cases of certain motivated unsheltered persons.

But see: “S.F. to pay millions in hotel damages left by homeless,” by St. John Barned-Smith in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 2, 2023, p. A2. Clearly, criminal, behavioral or drug abuse issues were part of this costly situation.

Posted by SE Hinton
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2023 at 11:58 am

SE Hinton is a registered user.

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) mentoring an "out of county" youth, e.g., a foster youth from Santa Clara County who is placed in another county - my youth is in a Central Valley county, I can unequivocally state that there are as many or more homeless people already in the valley and that, simply moving PA homeless, Texas style, to there 1) won't solve anything and 2) might tempt authorities in the Central Valley to send them all back with more added. In other words there is no "magic" location that solves this. A better idea would be to set up trailer or shipping-container mini campuses separated by homeless types - couple, families, singles men-only, singles female-only, etc., and perhaps a mini campus for those needing the highest level of mental or physical assistance. Do this Senator Weiner / Nike-advertising style: Pick the spots and just do it. If that means porta potties, camping style showers and water faucets, and small electric generators, create a new homeless-shelter building code and ... just do it.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 7, 2023 at 8:41 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Advocacy groups keep putting people in locations in which they have no reasonable ability to get a job. Palo Alto does not have a commercial area of any note. Any job seeker here needs to be able to compete on an educationale level with all of the other people looking for jobs. San Mateo County has a more diverse business base - most of the plumbers have a RWC address. They have a commercial area with many job opportunities. They have a major hub airport which requires a lot of labor.
Likewise San Jose has a more diverse business base and more job opportunities.
Do not use Mr. Weiner's approaches to housing - same issues he choses to ignore.

Short term attempts on the problem do not address the long term issues - JOBS.

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