gmhTODAY 21 gmhToday Aug Sept 2018 - Page 32

ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS: PART TWO Life Without A Home Written By Robin Shepherd Destination:Home St. Josephs Family Center Cold Weather Shelter In May, Cisco committed $50 million to help Santa Clara County turn the tables on homelessness. Destination:Home is managing the fund over a five-year period. According to Jennifer Loving, CEO of Destination:Home, “Cisco’s is the single largest tech company donation aimed at homelessness. Their employees are smart, committed, proactively embracing the goal of success for all.” In 2016, voters approved the $950 million Measure A bond to fund housing development. The next batch of roughly six to eight projects goes before the county Board of Supervisors this summer for a vote. (See page 65) “We have to dispel the myths. Most people are not homeless by choice. And most were born and grew up here. We have to address the trauma of homeless- ness. Housing is the best medicine.” In mid-2018, Destination: Home rolled out the Homelessness Prevention System. It began with a public-private partnership including the City of Morgan Hill, St. Josephs Center, and several million dollars to fund solutions for homelessness prevention. David Cox is the CEO of St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy, which has a long tradition of serving the many needs of the homeless and those who may be at-risk of homelessness. “We need TRULY affordable housing. Safe parking programs. Tiny homes projects. Changed attitudes among developers whose small percentage of ‘affordable’ units are for people making 80 to 100 percent of median income. “We’re part of an Emergency Assistance Network with agencies throughout the county collaborating to end homelessness. We touch all aspects—prevention, shelter, referrals, permanent housing programs, case management, and job skills. “We need to lessen the red tape and bureaucracy to identify housing for the homeless,” Cox added. “So far, South County has demonstrated a lack of will to do it. Most housing projects now in development were approved long ago. Fair Market development also creates infrastructure needs. What if 25 percent of new housing development had to be TRULY affordable, and it was easier for private property owners to develop it?” Our unsheltered population is at in- creased risk of illness and death during the winter months. In 2017, Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing extended Winter Cold Weather Shelter operations by about three months, from mid- October to mid-April. In Gilroy, HomeFirst operates the National Guard Armory, and St. Joseph’s Family Center operates the Ochoa Winter Family Shelter. These emergency shelters are often a first step toward stable housing for the homeless. Shelters provide a point of access for needs assessment that helps the county prioritize households for transitional and permanent housing opportunities. Along with hot showers and meals, they may also provide referrals to case management, healthcare and employment programs. 32 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 Compassion Parks The Community Plan to End Homeless- ness, adopted by Santa Clara County, calls for “disruptive strategies and innovative prototypes that transform the systems related to housing home- less people.” One such prototype is the Compassion Parks concept spearheaded Governor Brown’s approved budget allocated nearly $3 billion to homelessness. What fraction will be spent in Santa Clara County is uncertain. Meanwhile, our homeless population is over 7,000. The haves and have nots grow farther apart in terms of their paychecks, homes, and hopes for the future. Fortunately, local organizations are working together to put this crisis in its place.