News

Downtown homeless shelter opens doors

Just before Christmas, Trinity United Methodist opens cold weather sanctuary for women and children

For women and families with children seeking sanctuary from the cold winter weather, Christmas came a little early this year.

On Saturday night, Trinity United Methodist Church rolled out fifty beds and laid out long aluminum pans full of hot food, transforming the church in downtown Mountain View into a seasonal homeless shelter for North County residents. A handful of women trickled into the shelter -- a slow start, but that's to be expected, according to shelter staff.

The winter homeless shelter, at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets, marks the latest effort by Santa Clara County to provide badly needed shelter beds during the frigid months of the year. On any given night, about 4,800 people go without shelter and end up sleeping in cars, on the streets and along the creek, according to county estimates.

Homeless residents of Mountain View are given priority for the limited spots in the shelter, followed by the rest of the North County region, according to Bob Dolci of the county's Office of Supportive Housing. The Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos is the primary referral agency, and has already directed two dozen people to the shelter.

Efforts to open the shelter began in January, spearheaded by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Michael Love, the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church. Although the proposal -- a homeless shelter located squarely in a single-family residential neighborhood -- seemed bound for opposition, the Old Mountain View community and the downtown businesses largely embraced the idea. The permit application glided through the city's approval process without resistance.

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Dolci, who faced significant opposition on two shelter proposals in Sunnyvale in recent years, said it's possible that residents in the community already saw the church as a resource for the homeless. The nonprofit Hope's Corner has been operating out of the church since 2011, providing free meals on Saturday morning and showers throughout the week.

"I believe it was because Hope's Corner has been around so long and has done so much for the poor," Dolci said. "There was very little opposition."

It also helped that Simitian's office pulled out all the stops to inform the local community to solicit and address any concerns, Dolci said. Staff from the county housing office held several meetings, met with the business community and reached out to residents on NextDoor, even holding a community meeting in the Opal Nightclub. "The owner was great to work with," Dolci said.

Although the shelter was slated to open its doors on Nov. 27, it was delayed by nearly a month pending the installation of fire safety equipment. But the city did its part to speed things up by sending in staff every day last week to inspect the progress, said Leslie Carmichael, board president of Hope's Corner.

Even with Mountain View's new shelter, the need still outweighs the demand. There are already 70 people competing for the 50 beds, Dolci said, and the waiting list to get into the nearby Sunnyvale cold weather shelter eclipsed 300 as of Thanksgiving.

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What sets Mountain View's shelter apart, however, is that it provides a space specifically for women and children who might otherwise feel uncomfortable in a typical shelter setting.

"We know they are some of the most desperate people we serve," Dolci said.

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Downtown homeless shelter opens doors

Just before Christmas, Trinity United Methodist opens cold weather sanctuary for women and children

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 12:47 pm
Updated: Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 9:38 am

For women and families with children seeking sanctuary from the cold winter weather, Christmas came a little early this year.

On Saturday night, Trinity United Methodist Church rolled out fifty beds and laid out long aluminum pans full of hot food, transforming the church in downtown Mountain View into a seasonal homeless shelter for North County residents. A handful of women trickled into the shelter -- a slow start, but that's to be expected, according to shelter staff.

The winter homeless shelter, at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets, marks the latest effort by Santa Clara County to provide badly needed shelter beds during the frigid months of the year. On any given night, about 4,800 people go without shelter and end up sleeping in cars, on the streets and along the creek, according to county estimates.

Homeless residents of Mountain View are given priority for the limited spots in the shelter, followed by the rest of the North County region, according to Bob Dolci of the county's Office of Supportive Housing. The Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos is the primary referral agency, and has already directed two dozen people to the shelter.

Efforts to open the shelter began in January, spearheaded by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Michael Love, the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church. Although the proposal -- a homeless shelter located squarely in a single-family residential neighborhood -- seemed bound for opposition, the Old Mountain View community and the downtown businesses largely embraced the idea. The permit application glided through the city's approval process without resistance.

Dolci, who faced significant opposition on two shelter proposals in Sunnyvale in recent years, said it's possible that residents in the community already saw the church as a resource for the homeless. The nonprofit Hope's Corner has been operating out of the church since 2011, providing free meals on Saturday morning and showers throughout the week.

"I believe it was because Hope's Corner has been around so long and has done so much for the poor," Dolci said. "There was very little opposition."

It also helped that Simitian's office pulled out all the stops to inform the local community to solicit and address any concerns, Dolci said. Staff from the county housing office held several meetings, met with the business community and reached out to residents on NextDoor, even holding a community meeting in the Opal Nightclub. "The owner was great to work with," Dolci said.

Although the shelter was slated to open its doors on Nov. 27, it was delayed by nearly a month pending the installation of fire safety equipment. But the city did its part to speed things up by sending in staff every day last week to inspect the progress, said Leslie Carmichael, board president of Hope's Corner.

Even with Mountain View's new shelter, the need still outweighs the demand. There are already 70 people competing for the 50 beds, Dolci said, and the waiting list to get into the nearby Sunnyvale cold weather shelter eclipsed 300 as of Thanksgiving.

What sets Mountain View's shelter apart, however, is that it provides a space specifically for women and children who might otherwise feel uncomfortable in a typical shelter setting.

"We know they are some of the most desperate people we serve," Dolci said.

Comments

maguro_01
Old Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm
maguro_01, Old Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm
3 people like this

Good for our neighbors. I notice that Hotel 22 and Diradon Station in San Jose are filling up with mostly men and some women these cold nights. I don't recall seeing children as we did in the late Crash.

It's also a reality that houses in this area sell for 7 digits for the same reasons there are growing numbers of homeless. I know some homeowners are often struggling too though not with such dire stakes.

In the coming months we get to see what happens to the people sleeping around the railroad station. But also anyone of low income or just old on Medicare. We may even see in years to come families who have to make Sophie's Choice and decide whether to try to save their terminally sick child or to save the chances of the others.

Perhaps it's interesting that the new shelter is a church. I'm not personally religious, but must respect and wish the best for people who make such choices from the spectrum of belief.

We have a government in Washington now that takes its instruction from the Parable of the Talents, one not usually remembered in the Christmas season. Many Evangelicals do also:

"...Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  Matthew 25:24–30



Former MV resident
Waverly Park
on Dec 27, 2017 at 6:45 pm
Former MV resident , Waverly Park
on Dec 27, 2017 at 6:45 pm
7 people like this

So happy to see Mtn View stepping up to House our homeless families. If you post needed items for the shelter you will get donations from the community. Now the needy can ride the google shuttle free to places in town and stay over st the shelter.
Thank you Hopes Corner for all your caring.


Waldo
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Dec 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm
Waldo, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Dec 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm
3 people like this

Kudos to Supervisor Simitian and Pastor Love. Special thanks to Pastor Love and the small congregation at Trinity UMC, which provides an outsized service for the women and children of North County. Without this shelter, they would have to go to a shelter in San Jose, disrupting jobs and schooling.


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