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Homeless in Palo Alto

Original post made by Alice Schaffer Smith, Green Acres, on Jan 13, 2007

With the severe cold impacting all of us this week, I worry about the unhoused in Palo Alto and beyond. What actions have our city officials taken this week to make sure that their unhoused residents have safe, warm and dry place to stay.

Is it the role of a city to care for its unhoused? I believe so? When you consider what it means to be civilized, I believe we owe a duty of care to open up shelters, and to continue to work to provide suitable housing availability for those who can not house themselves.

Comments (15)

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2007 at 7:36 am

From a public health standpoint we need to bring back flop houses where minimum solution housing is supplied on a non-judgemental basis. We would obviously need locations that don't impact residential areas but that have some form of transit to commercial areas. We need to take away the rights of both rich and poor to sleep under bridges, defecate behind bushes and dine from dumpsters*.
[*trademark of the Dempsy Dumpster Co]

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Posted by Hamburglar
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2007 at 6:24 pm

I wouldn't expect the city to do a darn thing about them. It's not like they do anything about the homeless people the rest of the year. I think the city is blind to the problem. Maybe they are too preoccupied with figuring out how to drive more businesses and homeowners away.

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Posted by Ana
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 14, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Hello Alice, Thanks for your concern! But, if the city is not doing anything to help the homeless in this weather, can we, the residents do something? Can we organize something? Do you have any idea of how we can help? Thanks again.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2007 at 6:43 am

Instead of the mindless feelgood of renaming a street after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the city could locate an area for a hostel/shelter in his name.
Naw, mindless is easier.

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Posted by Mindless
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2007 at 7:27 am

Walter, Hamburger - you are the "city" - if you don't like yourselves, change the "city"

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Judging from almost every election since I moved here, I am certainly not the city. I occasioonally point out a problem and/or a possible solution as I did here, but like the slave grown chocolate, if it doesn't come from the usual soources it falls on deaf ears.

You might debate my suggestion instead of me.

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Posted by Realist
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 15, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Dont let these "unhoused" fool you! Most of them are living just fine and want you to think they are "suffering" and give them money. How about the bicyclist who goes speeding down University to East Palo ALto to buy his crack one minute and then pretends to walk around limping with a cane in front of the restaruants and bars later. After speaking to many of them, they choose this lifestyle and dont want to work or help themselves (other than to crack and alcohol.)

The people who need help, know where to find it.

THose who dont want help (other than your pocket change), know where to find help if they need it as well.

Dont let them fool you.

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Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Second hand I did receive this feedback on what the city has put in place for these cold nights: I am assuming that this is a public statement and thus I may reproduce it. However I point out that this is a public holiday weekend and many of the facilities are closed because of Martin Luther King's birthday. I am uneasy about the solution: Sunnyvale is a long way away, even if VTA services are provided free of charge. Let's hope that no one suffers from hypothermia or other ill effects.

From: Benest, Frank []
Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2007 12:37 PM

Last night and this morning I have been in contact with Kathy Espinoza-Howard, our Human Services Manager, as well as the Mayor regarding the freezing temperatures and the homeless. Kathy has had numerous discussions with the County Office of Emergency Services (OES), Barbara Cimino, the local Red Cross, the Opportunity Center and shelter operators. Here is the summary:

1. The shelters are open in Redwood City and Sunnyvale. They have seen no surge in homeless clients coming in due to the cold. County OES does not see the need for more shelters at this time.

2. VTA is offering free bus transportation to the shelters.

3. Our libraries and community centers are open during the day as a warm place to go.

4. County OES will be at Lytton Plaza this afternoon offering blankets and jackets as well as shelter info and other resources to any homeless folks.

5. Our Palo Alto PD has been notified of this assessment and available resources as they encounter homeless people.

Thanks for Kathy and Barbara for evaluating this situation.

Frank Benest
City Manager
City of Palo Alto
650 329-2563
650 325-5025 fax

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Yes, realist, many of the homeless are there because of poor choices. It is not out of pity as much as out of consideration of public health and safety that I suggest we need to make better accomodations available. Very often, well meaning restrictive regulations at available shelters turn away some who really need to be under cover but who are out there just because they "Don't take that crap." I am begining to think we need to bring back flop houses, KOA type facilities for car sleepers, hostels and even camping communes. Shoot for $5 a night. Don't go the subsidized direction, go minimum solution minimum upkeep safe and sanitary. Oversized refrigerator crates with facilities.

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Posted by Ana - I am shocked!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 17, 2007 at 7:51 pm

I am shocked!

"The shelters are open in Redwood City and Sunnyvale," Palo Alto City Manager Frank Benest said to Alice Smith in an e-mail.

WOW... this was really wrote by the City Manager???

The idea is not to help the homeless, but just to try send them away. So, we don't face the problem and take responsability for it!?

There are reasons why they are not in Redwood City, nor in Sunnyvale.


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Posted by shocked too!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2007 at 5:52 pm

Perhaps you should open your house to the homeless if you think the city is not doing enough.

Would you like to elaborate on what are the reasons why you think they are not in Redwood City nor Sunnyvale?

I support the steps that the city has taken in this matter.

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Posted by Abe Karenina
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2007 at 11:12 am

O plangent Smithie
how quaint thy plaint
for the guys that ain't!

The weather there is never very cold, anyway-
they'll be o.k.

How sweet to see
how slim you be.

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Posted by A Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 8, 2007 at 4:34 pm

plangent \PLAN-juhnt\, adjective:
1. Beating with a loud or deep sound, as, "the plangent wave."
2. Expressing sadness; plaintive.

If more effort were spent on solving problems than on distracting poetry, we might have a safer, saner policy on housing the unhoused.

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Posted by Tiger Smithie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2008 at 8:33 am

Alice, why don't you simply invite them all into your own nice home, instead of deciding for us that it is our duty to house them??? What is it that makes you think that you are in charge of assigning the rest of the community responsibility in this area. Do it yourself!!!! YOU help them out.

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Posted by just thinkin'
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Tiger Smithie-
Regardless of what you think, you are paying MORE if they are institutionalized in hospitals or jail than if they were enticed into an apartment. It comes down to how many dollars you want to spend, and who gets them.

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

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