Three weeks after the flood that devastated several San Jose neighborhoods along Coyote Creek, more than 500 households remain displaced.
To accommodate people who have been unable to return home, the City Council on Tuesday will consider declaring a “shelter crisis,” which would suspend certain housing regulations and allow flood victims to sleep in community centers and libraries.
The Red Cross oversaw the shelters at local high schools and community centers from the time of the flood, Feb. 21 and 22, through last week. HomeFirst, a local housing nonprofit, has managed the shelters since then.
Come Tuesday, the council will vote on paying HomeFirst $247,200 a month to continue operating the shelter at Seven Trees Community Center, which has been housing up to 180 people a night.
The proposed contract includes a $50,000 contingency and the option of extending for an additional two months, which would bring the total cost to $791,600.
Last month’s flooding created a new crop of homeless people, but it also displaced people who were un-housed to begin with. Already, San Jose was grappling with how to accommodate more than 4,000 homeless people. About 2,800 of them are unsheltered on a given night. Nearly 800 live in camps and shantytowns along local waterways.
San Jose declared a shelter crisis in December 2015 to use the Bascom Community Center, Tully Community Library, Washington United Youth Center and Biblioteca Branch Library as warming centers for the homeless. But with the influx of un-housed people from the flood, the city has run out of space.
Many homeless flood victims lost everything they had: tents, clothes, backpacks and shoes. Meanwhile, families flushed from their homes by the flood lost not only their shelter but also their cars. So relocating to a shelter outside of their neighborhood would make it difficult for them to drive to work or take their kids to school. About 20 children are being housed at the Seven Trees shelter each night, according to the city.
HomeFirst will staff Seven Trees with at least seven people at all times, according to the tentative agreement. The organization will also hire onsite security guards. The cost of 24-7 staffing, security, food, supplies and overhead amounts to about $8,240 a day.
Money for HomeFirst will come from the general fund, which includes a $5.2 million allotment for housing the homeless. The city’s housing department will petition for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Click here to read the proposed “shelter crisis” resolution.
HomeFirst has been asking for volunteers to provide additional help. According to the nonprofit, they need people to serve meals and donate towels, laundry detergent pods, toiletries and cash, stock or other financial assistance. To join the service calendar, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 14, 2017:
- The city’s capital improvement budget amounts to $878 million this year and includes major upgrades to the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility as well as the sewage system, parks, cultural centers and public transit. Public Works Director Barry Ng will deliver a presentation on the status of those projects—198 in all.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260