San Jose warming centers open as temperatures drop
Don Reese, 58, has slept in the Roosevelt Community Center for about a week to avoid the cold weather. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

    With cold temperatures and pouring rain expected to blow through the South Bay this week, local officials are urging unhoused residents to seek shelter at temporary warming centers.

    San Jose opened up two locations this month, restarting its annual program to help homeless people weather the cold winter. Santa Clara County is also turning a dozen public libraries and community centers into daytime shelters in an attempt to prevent deaths and health risks amid the temperature drops.

    The San Jose warming centers—Roosevelt Community Center in downtown and West Valley Branch Library in District 1—offer overnight shelter and are open until April. The downtown location has 30 shelter beds, and the library has 20. Both locations operate on referrals through the region’s centralized hotline, which will help residents find the nearest shelter, officials said. The 12 county-funded warming centers are open until Sunday.

    According to the city, 39 people have used the Roosevelt Community Center and 24 have used the West Valley Branch Library since Nov. 15.

    Don Reese, an unhoused person of several years, said the overnight warming site at the Roosevelt Community Center has helped him get through some of the recent cold nights. Reese has slept there for about a week.

    “This has been so good, and the workers here have been very attentive and trying to help me in anyway they can,” Reese told San José Spotlight. “I’d have been in a bad situation without this place to sleep.”

    Roosevelt Community Center is one of two overnight warming locations in San Jose this winter. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

    The centers in San Jose have storage space, allow pets inside, provide meals and accept individuals with substance use disorders and mental health issues.

    “Our concern is obviously for people who are unsheltered in the cold and in the rain, but also with people experiencing financial hardship that may not be in a position to keep their home, or (are) living in a car or vehicle,” Kathleen Conley, senior emergency planning coordinator for Santa Clara County, told San José Spotlight. “This weather presents a high risk for hypothermia or other health risks.”

    Those who need to travel to the centers can ride public transportation for free until Sunday.

    San Jose opened its first overnight warming shelter in 2015, and has helped roughly 3,200 people get through the cold and harsh winter conditions with its warming locations, according to city data. In 2019, the city expanded the program to operate every night during the cold months in response to the city’s growing homelessness crisis.

    The warming centers are crucial resources for the unhoused population—many of whom are braving the cold in their RVs, tents or other makeshift structures, advocates said. According to the latest data, 75% of the homeless population in San Jose, or 5,031 people, are living on the streets without any shelter. With only 1,582 shelter beds in the city, thousands are left to brave the winter and rainy season—and some have died due to exposure. At least seven homeless people died from hypothermia last year, according to county data.

    Santa Clara County is also working to add more shelter beds during the winter, Conley said. There are roughly 2,600 shelter beds in the county.

    “The current shelter capacity does not meet the needs of the unsheltered population,” Conley said. “We expand as much as we can and try to encourage people to get respite during the daytime in the morning centers.”

    HomeFirst, a frequent nonprofit partner with the city and Santa Clara County, manages both San Jose sites. Spokesperson Jayson Mejarito said the shelters have been busy, but are not at capacity yet—urging homeless people to call the organization’s hotline for a place to sleep.

    “We have gotten fairly positive feedback (because) the locations this year are pretty easily accessible,” Mejarito told San José Spotlight. “Our staff have also been doing the best of their ability to make sure the environment itself is safe for not only themselves, but also for the participants that are within the space.”

    RJ Ramsey, a former homeless person turned advocate, spent months last year delivering hot meals to the warming locations. He said the Roosevelt Community Center is a great choice. The center has served as a warming location in the past.

    “It’s centrally located and people are familiar with it and they know how to get there,” Ramsey told San José Spotlight. “I still have reservations about the West Valley Library. There are homeless people everywhere, but the majority of them are not in that area.”

    For more information about the overnight shelters, call (408) 539-2105 or email the HomeFirst Helpline.

    For more information about the daytime shelters, call the Here 4 You Call Center hotline (408) 385-2400.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter. 

    Daytime and overnight warming shelters in Santa Clara County

    Daytime Warming Locations—Open until Sunday, Dec. 4.

    Call (408) 385-2400 for assistance

    Cupertino Library

    10800 Torre Ave., Cupertino, CA

    Hours of Operation:

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Friday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Saturday, Dec. 3 – Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Gilroy Library

    350 W. 6th St., Gilroy, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 – Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Los Altos Library

    13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 2 – Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Milpitas Library

    160 N. Main St., Milpitas, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 2 – Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Morgan Hill Library

    660 W. Main Ave., Morgan Hill, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 – Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Saratoga Library

    13650 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Woodland Library

    1975 Grant Road, Los Altos, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 – Sunday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Community Recreation Center

    969 Kiely Blvd., Santa Clara, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Thursday, Dec. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Santa Clara Senior Center

    1303 Fremont St., Santa Clara, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Friday, Dec. 2 from 7:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Central Park Library

    2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Northside Branch Library

    695 Moreland Way, Santa Clara, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday, Nov from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Friday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Mission Branch Library

    1098 Lexington Street, Santa Clara, CA

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Thursday, Dec. 1 from 1p.m. to 5 p.m.

    OVERNIGHT WARMING LOCATIONS—Open until April 30, 2023

    Call (408) 539-2105 or e-mail the HomeFirst Helpline to get a referral

    Roosevelt Community Center

    901 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95116

    Hours of Operation: 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

    West Valley Branch Library

    1243 San Tomas Aquino Rd., San Jose, CA 95117

    Hours of Operation: 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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