Supervisors Look to Replace North County Homeless Shelter

With the Sunnyvale Armory slated for demolition to make way for permanent low-income housing, north Santa Clara County stands to lose its only homeless shelter.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will talk about finding and funding a replacement.

For 20 years, the armory on Maude Avenue offered 125 beds every night between Thanksgiving and March. But on average, 136 people seek shelter there on a given night. On a quiet night, 100—even in temperate weather. The county supported the venue with a $200,000 annual subsidy.

But developers will tear it all down to build two affordable housing projects, which will set aside 47 units for homeless people.

“While that will be a welcome addition to our housing stock, it will not eliminate the continuing need for access to a cold weather shelter …,” Supervisor Joseph Simitian writes in a memo going before his colleagues on Tuesday.

The county will consider replacing the armory beds with “warming stations,” shelters that would rotate locations in extreme weather, such as the cold snap this past winter that claimed the lives of four homeless men.

Short-term shelter doesn’t stop the problem of low-income housing needs, Simitian adds. As the housing market gets more competitive, it’s increasingly common for homeless people to show up with a housing voucher and nowhere to use it.

“While the county’s efforts to implement a ‘housing first’ approach are appropriate and theoretically sound, they cannot fully address the very real and immediate challenges associated with shelter housing for the north county homeless population,” he writes in a memo. “For this reason, we continue to need a variety of approaches, including an emergency cold weather shelter at a fixed location.”

Finding a new spot isn’t just a Sunnyvale issue, he continues. It’s a regional need, and as such, other cities should step up to help.

The latest point-in-time homeless census counted more than 7,600 unsheltered residents. Even those who obtained a housing voucher are having a tough time finding a landlord to accept them because of the tight rental market, pushing more people to rely on short-term shelters.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for April 15, 2014:

  • To help San Jose cope with a critically understaffed police force, the county will consider offering help of sheriff's deputies. Since 2008, the San Jose Police Department's ranks dwindled from more than 1,400 sworn officers to fewer than 900 now. But the city's budget situation has improved. It has the money to pay for more officers, it just can't attract enough talent because of controversy surrounding pension reform measures. The proposal submitted by Supervisor Dave Cortese argues that San Jose's needs threaten the public safety of the entire region since it makes up more than half the county's population. The sheriff's office already offers temporary help to the Valley Transportation Authority, Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Altos.
  • With South County trying to brand itself as a destination for wine tourism, supervisors are talking about placing signage along routes in Morgan Hill and Gilroy designating a “Wine Trail” leading to various wineries.
  • Restaurants will have to post up their health inspection grades for the public to see. Green for pass, yellow for conditional pass and red for failed.

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Lynn Regadanz, [email protected]

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


  1. Mr. Simitian’s got his work cut out for him.
    The demand for housing won’t be satisfied until China, Mexico, and India are empty.
    What a tool of developers these “progressives” are.

  2. “7,600 unsheltered residents”? As opposed to “sheltered” ones? Like us, the useful idiots who actually pay their property/local/state/federal/SSI taxes and are called names when they even dare to question county’s never-ending quest to “eradicate homelessness”.

  3. The reason there are so many homeless people is because the agencies that have the vouchers are giving them to their family & friends. They are not giving it to the homeless people except for the drug addicts and alcoholics. They give them vouchers and they only abuse the situation and party and get evicted and even some have overdosed in the free housing. The only reason they are giving them housing is they are almost dead. They figure they have to because if they die on the streets people will blame them for their death. I have been here for over 4 years. I have seen it all and I have been to many agencies and they all say they have nothing for me. I have recently been contacting the Federal Agencies that fund California for it’s homeless population. They need to be regulated and also need to stop giving the agencies money that are only using it to pay high salaries and not much giving. I can say all of this because I worked for a social service agency years ago and it was 80% to run the business and 20% giving. They hold onto that money to guarantee their job and pay their own salaries and get their own families into housing. The housing population is increasing because of this abuse. When you look at the demographics you can see that each agency gives to their own kind. Look at the homeless. Most of them are white or black and there are very few whites and blacks running these nonprofit agencies or if so then the workers are foreign. Americans cannot even get help in their own country. I have to write Obama about this!!!

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