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  • Writer's pictureD Lane

The invisible blogger reappears... and has new stuff to say about homelessness in Santa Cruz County.

I’d like to provide some context.

When one views local news media or social media, one might have the impression that Food Not Bombs is at the heart of our community’s work to address homelessness.

Here’s what’s been happening this past week as best I can put together (clearly not a perfect list!). These are in addition to the housing and rent assistance programs that are preventing homelessness for hundreds of local residents and the hundreds of unhoused people receiving benefits through the County.

Ø About 80 people are living within the County-managed encampment along the San Lorenzo River next to the County Courthouse. Sanitation, canopies, supportive services and food are available for those folks.

Ø About 200 people have indoor interim housing at Housing Matters with safe distancing. And there are two meals per day for all these folks. Showers and toilets for all. Supportive services for all. And many more non-residents receive mail services and can use sanitation facilities.

Ø About 20 people have indoor shelter with safe distancing, meals, sanitation, and support services at the River Street Shelter (adjacent to, but separate from, Housing Matters)

Ø 40 people are staying at the County-managed Vets’ Hall in downtown Santa Cruz and 44 people are staying at the Watsonville Vets Hall. Meals and sanitation and support services are available for each resident. Public entities are funding this.

Ø 95 people are staying at the National Guard Armory site (this includes the former Laurel Street Salvation Army clients who are staying in the Pavilion and those staying inside the Armory building) in DeLaVeaga Park with safe distancing and private spaces with indoor tents.

Ø About 20 transition age youth are staying in state-provided trailers on Old San Jose Road.

Ø About 40 people are staying safely in their vehicles through AFC’s Safe Spaces program.

Ø 30 people are staying at two churches operated by the Association of Faith Communities. Meals, sanitation, and supportive services are available.

Ø Dozens of people are staying Families in Transition’s interim housing with a full range of services.

+++ Over 1000 people that had been among the most vulnerable unhoused people in our county are staying in “permanent supportive housing” -- housing staffed and overseen by the County, The Housing Authority, Housing Matters, Encompass Community Services, Families in Transition and other programs.

Ø About 30 people are staying at Pajaro Valley Shelter. A similar number are staying in their transitional housing. Full range of services provided.

Ø 150 previously unsheltered people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID 19 are staying in motel rooms. Meals, laundry and supportive services are also provided. Public entities are funding this.

Ø About 35 people are staying at the Pajaro Rescue Mission, with sanitation and meals provided.

Ø Hundreds of unhoused people are using the dozens of new portable toilets available

Ø About 200-300 people use the storage facilities at the Footbridge center and a few dozen receive laundry services and showers each week. Scores of people receive clothing and supplies there every week. And dozens of people camping nearby are receiving support.

Ø Between 15 and 20 people are working, earning money and receiving many other services at the Homeless Garden Project.

Ø About 100 people each week get personal assistance from the Encompass downtown outreach workers (These services are publicly funded.)

Ø 32 people are participants with the Downtown Streets Team and are receiving training, work experience, vouchers for food and supplies, and support as they work toward ongoing employment and housing.

Ø About 100 people are receiving meals at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes each day.

Ø Saint Francis Kitchen is providing about 100 meals per day. They also have showers and toilets.

Ø More than 500 people are receiving behavioral health and physical health services – including hygiene supplies, counseling and immunizations - month from the Homeless Persons Health Project, which is a County program.

Ø Dozens of people get information and assistance from Stepping Up Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Free Guide every week.

Ø throughout the community that were not present a year ago.

Ø Countless individuals are being assisted through the kindness and generosity of hundreds of individual volunteers.

Ø Food Not Bombs is providing meals, food, supplies and advocacy for scores of individuals each day.

(if your group is doing work that should be included here, please send me a note and I will include it)

So… It’s really good that Food Not Bombs is helping a bunch of people living on the street. I hope we will also recognize the good and important work hundreds of people and organizations that don’t demand quite so much attention.

By the way, while local government’s work on all of this is far from perfect, it’s clear that it has been doing a lot and devoting a tremendous amount of resources (human and money) to meeting the needs of some our community’s most vulnerable and impoverished people. The vast majority of the programs listed above are fully or partially government-funded. We can be both critical and appreciative of public entities’ work on homelessness at the same time.

Let’s try to find allies and partners in this work rather than finding enemies.

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May 06, 2021

Thanks, Don. The River Street Shelter closure is making matters worse. Why is it closing? - Karen Kaplan


Oct 17, 2020

Thanks for the update Suzanne!

For mo.davidson: I did include the Warming Center under their other name "FootBridge"


Oct 14, 2020

Thank you, what an encouraging summary in the face of a seemingly insurmountable problem. One act at a time. You didn't mention the Warming Center's efforts, which could be forgotten in that they received such a little of public funding and such a lot of effort from it's founding team. Is it true, can we indeed help those on the edge find a stable foothold in these scary times?


Oct 07, 2020

This is great, Don. Thanks! The AFC shower trailer provides showers for the Vets Hall folks, the Benchlands and the Warming Center as well as the two AFC shelters - over 150 showers per week. Also the Mid-County Homeless Coalition supplies showers at Resurrection Church and in Watsonville .

It is worth noting that unlike traditional shelters that provide overnight housing, many, if not most, of the shelters have stepped up to provide 24-7 shelter in place, with constant monitoring for Covid. This has prevented the spread of the virus in this vulnerable population.

Suzanne McLean


Association of Faith Communities

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