‘Shelter Crisis’ Declaration Would House SJ Flood Victims into April

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 [email protected].

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

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. In our Nieghborhood Association meeting last Thursday it was brought to our attention that the security officers hired to protect the flood refugees were sexually assaulting the women and girls in the Seven Trees Community Center where 160-180 flood victims are staying. A staff member for District-7’s Councilmember Tam Nguyen had assured us that the security personal was replaced due that happening. Can we be assured that the private contractor “HOMEFIRST” will be able to properly screen and hire their employees in the future. Also, the people being “Housed” at the community center have been complaining about rashes, coughing, and infectious diseases being passed around the close population without proper medical attention and separation of the infected. Could this community center be ground zero for a new bug that is infecting the flood victims due to the highly toxic and bacteria ridden flood water that they waded in to escape with their lives and belongings?

  2. It was Sham Lie-hard-oh’s job to declare a mandatory evacuation. He is deflecting and pointing fingers… again. Wasn’t there a point where he took full responsibility?

    The day of the flood he blamed SJFD, a City Department that his political decisions decimated.

    He then blamed SVWD for not giving him information… until emails showed his “people” were warned.

    When no one was left to blame, he kinda sorta, in a way, mostly took accountability partly. Now, when SVWD folks didn’t show up at HIS meeting, he’s mad.

    Does SVWD have some accountability, yes I think they could have better. Sending a talking head was not a way to subside people’s anger and frustration.

    But, should Slick Sammy be called on the carpet for his failures, including this one? Definitely!

  3. What we see at City Hall is disjunction. Instead of Sam Liccardo running things that require his immediate attention in his office, we find him holding onto a shovel scraping muck from the streets and helping hoist a wet mattress into a dumpster. We need leadership at the highest levels.

    We can get a San Jose Consevation Corp employee to take over the shoveling of muck. We elected Sam Liccardo to handle the business end of things at City Hall not the shoveling of mud and debris hauling.

    Unless he feels that he needs a photo opp to show he is actually doing something at City Hall.
    We can save money on the Salary of a Mayor and put a San Jose Coservation employee in the Mayor’s office and the Mayor can have more time on the cleanup detail. Just a thought.

  4. Perhaps the Mayor, City Council, County Government, Governor Moonbeam and 52 other elected Federal Representative of this breakaway Republic would stop pissing off the President and the rest of the country,
    you might get some help for the victims of local stupidity.


  5. What a mess…
    Seems the SJ and SCVWD politicians beleive throwing hard earned taxpayer dollars at the problem will cure everything and they will receive the Mother Thresa award for their actions. Perhaps it helps these hand wringing politicians sleep better at night The fact is the “un-housed” will remain “un-housed” and come summer nothing will be solved. The tent cities will return and Coyote Creek will return to being used as an open sewer. The politicians and money will have moved on and be long gone.
    Good luck transient dwellers.

  6. where is the interest on 22 million mothballed coyote flood project< where is the scvwd reserves? there 1/2 billion investments? what happened to DA, AUDITS SHOW US THE MONEY LINE BY LINE, SHOW US EVERY PC, PENCILS, SWAG( THEY HAVE CLOSET FULL) SHOW THE PUBLIC WHERE SCVWD DID PROJECTS IN LOS GATOS, LOS ALTOS, PALO ALTO, THOSE NAMES SOUND VERY RICH, go there and look and the landscaping, art to bridges, they ask, what do the poor get? oh and google scvwd audi 2012 it will show you how the top staff works and they wonder why not more lawsuits.

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