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Santa Clara County to bolster homeless housing in time for winter storms

Original post made on Sep 23, 2015

Santa Clara County officials plan to massively increase the number of emergency shelter space for homeless people throughout the county, and they're doing it with a sense of urgency.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 2:57 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

"Unconventional" says it all. We are a city with massive parking issues. And Santa Clara County wants cities like ours to designate 'safe parking areas' for homeless who live in their vehicles? This is madness.

Posted by @Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Well, the county could always designate your back yard instead.

Your call.

Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Oregon Ave at rush times would be ideal.

Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2015 at 10:52 am

Every year we see the same story - desperation and fruitless search - despite the fact that everyone knows this is going to happen.

My theory is that "the people in charge" already have a plan and want the "last ditch" effort to prevail. They keep using the desperation factor when they had a whole year to prepare.

The Homeless already have a designated place at Moffett Field / Sunnyvale owned property. A lot of cars and vans were parked at the old Safeway in MV on California.

I keep suggesting that the fair grounds is a huge area that has massive parking, buildings with heat, bathrooms, and food preparation areas. An area at the fair grounds can be sectioned off for the cars and motor homes that need a place to park. So what is the reason that the fair grounds cannot be used for this purpose? Because the county owns it and has the liability for the people once they are on the property?

There is a whole background set of costs that comes with the solutions. They want someone else to absorb those costs within their already limited budgets - like a church or community center.

The problem with people in their cars on your street is that they eventually have to go to the bathroom - and that creates a problem for you if it is your property they chose for that function. And we have a high number now of home break-ins and burglaries - people are typically very vigilant of who is on their street to protect their own property. The police department has classes on local neighborhood vigilance.

Posted by Nancy Lowe
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:07 am

There are so many cute tiny prototypes cottages for the homeless that appear on Facebook or which can be accessed by Googling....What better present could we possibly give ourselves than to house them? It is a necessity!!

Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:19 am

>>> "safe parking program [to] give a safe haven to people who live and sleep in their vehicles"
This is a much better idea than abandoning vehicle dwellers next to the little kids' play area at Boulware Park as Palo Alto has currently done. To make it work (at Moffett or elsewhere), it needs to be coupled with a prohibition to vehicle dwell elsewhere. The City repealed the vehicle dweller ban with promises (backed with funds!) to help vehicle dwellers, but those promises have been unfulfilled to date. Maybe Palo Alto can help the County as a whole get it right this time. Paraphrasing Joe Simitian from Monday's Council meeting: what's needed is a an appropriate structure around this idea and an appropriate site. We can do this.

Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

If the County had not voted to destroy the Armory in Sunnyvale, it would have saved 750,000 last winter and according to this article over $20 million in the two succeeding years. It would be a really good-- and HUGE savings to stop and take a look at these recent decisions,get explanations from the decision makers, GET ACTUAL HOMELESS PEOPLE involved in decision-oversight. Can you say grand jury investigation? There are many things that need to be changed. One if the most important is Homeless Input and its absence. Nothing About Us Without Us.

Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm

The last thing we need is homeless people camped out at school parking lots or community center parking lots in the proximity of children. That is a no go. Also - neighborhoods.

People are talking churches. Churches work on very limited budgets. Their facilities are for the use of their programs attended by their members. Don't make decisions as to how other people want to use their property. If you are in a compassionate mood than take that person into your own home.

We have a function sponsored by the police department - all police departments - called Neighborhood Watch, and Community Crime Watch. If your neighborhood has not had this presentation then they should request the police come out and put on a neighborhood presentation so everyone is working from the same set of basic requirements for community safety.

TS is filled with stories of break-ins, car window breakage, people being hit. We do not need that in our city or neighborhoods.

I just went out to mail a letter - guy parks car - by the time I am coming back he is smoking pot and you can smell it. Told him to move and go down to the park. I do not assume he is homeless - I assume he works in the area and is on his break. He can take his break in the park that has bathrooms and trash cans. Different generations function in different manners- the younger set can go to the park.

Posted by Tongue in Cheek (?)
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm

This is awful. They want to tax us and spend it on people we threw away! [Portion removed]

Posted by Tell It Like It Is
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm

I thought the county and city had an extra $29 Million in the low income housing funds to buy the Buena Vista Trailer Park. Can't that money be used to house the homeless (the lowest of our low income residents) during this urgent time of need ?

Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:57 pm

I think there is a lot of unused space in the baylands. Maybe they need to carve out an area there in the area near San Antonio (cement) where they can park.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:31 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Why hasn't Joe Simitian be in the forefront of this issue?

Posted by Gone On Too Long
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Wow, I'm surprised by the silence on this thread.

Many of us have been talking about the homeless problem in Santa Clara and the highest priority need to create housing for these individuals, groups, and families. Santa Clara has the nations larges homeless encampment, yet claims to lack the funding to make even a small impact. They seek $15+$15M this winter, and claim to not have it ?. "Tell It" above reminds us that there is $30M sitting idle given that the owner of Buena Vista has rejected the recent purchase offer. Why aren't those funds being used right now do address this problem ?

Where is the leadership that fought so hard to take $29M from Palo Alto and Santa Clara's low income housing fund for BV ? Why isn't Joe Simitian out front with a plan to help the homeless this winter ? Where is the FOBV ? why aren't the same lawyers suing the City on behalf of the BV residents offering to sue the County for failing to give the homeless due process ?

It seems the contingent touting compassion as the primary virtue that justifies saving Buena Vista, does not extend that same compassion when it comes to helping the homeless.

For folks interested in helping, here are just some of the organizations in Santa Clara County you can contact to offer support:
Bill Wilson Center
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Center for Employment Training
Community Solutions
EHC Lifebuilders
Family Supportive Housing
Hope for Outdoor People
InnVision the Way Home
St. Joseph’s Family Center
Sunnyvale Community Services
Valley Health Center Gilroy
Valley Homeless Health Care
West Valley Community Services

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Santa Clara County is quite sizable - and wealthy - and Palo Alto is on the northernmost edge. Why do commenters assume that the solutions lay in your town?

As for putting them out on the baylands - during an El Nino winter? Really?

Posted by Gone On Too Long
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2015 at 5:15 pm


The SCC Census estimates are between 7500 and 6500 homeless.
Other Census data can be got here : Web Link

Given that Palo Alto represents 4% of the Counties population, and 2% of the land area, your logic above seems to argue that Palo Alto should only be responsible for between 2% and 4% of the homeless problem. That is between 140 and 280 homeless people allocated to Palo Alto.

Those are pretty harsh limits, IMHO. I'd note that the homeless includes families with children, and we're talking about winter and a possible El Nino.

Perhaps we should base the Palo ALto allocation on the cities per capita income relative to that of SCC. That would allocate more homeless to Palo Alto's and other rich cities (Atherton, Los Altos Hills, etc.) responsibility.

What are you suggesting is the right number of homeless that Palo Alto should help?

Math ref:
Santa Clara: 1.9M people, 1290 sq Miles
Palo Alto: 67k People, 23 square miles

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I'm not advocating for per capita help, which I suspect you realize. What I wrote was, "Santa Clara County is quite sizable - and wealthy - and Palo Alto is on the northernmost edge. Why do commenters assume that the solutions lay in your town?"

It's a regional issue, and for the purposes of this article, a county one, so the county is looking for winter solutions, as it should.

Posted by Gone On Too Long
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2015 at 6:10 pm


Sorry. I just can's see that saying "It's a regional issue, and for the purposes of this article, a county one" means that Palo Alto is not immediately on the line to help address the obstacles and solutions that the article puts on the table and vis-a-vis the cities the article specifically mentions and implies as locations for this needed housing.

The County and it's task force are asking Palo Alto (along with the other cities that make up Santa Clara County) to provide locations and housing. The County for its part, is coordinating and offering to provide the cities with offsetting funds (albeit from taxing the Counties residents - so back to Palo ALto and its residents again).

The bottom line of this article is,
1. The county (that is the cities that make up the county) needs to come up with $30M (the estimate so far)
2. The County (that is the cities that make up the county) doesn't have the housing and Emergency housing needed, in so far as the Cities have not stepped up volunteered adequate space.

I further observe that the champions of low income housing who were so prominent during the effort to save Buena Vista, are notably absent from this article and this discussion thread.

I am puzzled that after standing up as a City and saying that we care about our low income citizens, maintaining a diverse population, and were willing to fight to save Buena Vista for these reasons (an effort for which the county contributed half of the funds), why is our City not voicing the same compassionate support for helping our homeless citizens survive this winter?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Oh. by all means - step up and see who helps. So many in your city think your city does enough. Certainly a well-coordinated county effort can do more than one city whose Palo Alto Process is infamous. Maybe asking your community why they don't want to do more for the homeless is in order at this point. Maybe more can be done if those in power can actually dodge your city's authorities to avoid being slowed by its processes.

Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2015 at 11:27 pm

There was a recent article in the SJM concerning the Santa Clara County Commitment to helping the homeless. San Jose city is heading up a lot of the effort. What concerns me is that we always see articles concerning Santa Clara County but I never see any about San Mateo County. What other counties are working this issue?

The funds are allocated by the county for the county so please report on what the other surrounding counties are doing to support this effort.

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