Cold-weather homeless shelters open early

Cold weather shelters in Santa Clara County are opening this evening about a week ahead of schedule to accommodate the homeless due to frigid conditions expected over the next few days.

The shelter at the National Guard Armory at 8490 Wren Ave. in Gilroy will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. for adults and families who have to be at the site by 5 p.m. for intake.

The shelter operated by HomeFirst will have 180 beds for people who will also receive two nutritious meals and a hot shower.

Support services will also be available at the shelter including counseling, employment resources, medical care and referrals for other needs.

Other beds will be made available this evening at Bill Wilson Center, City Team Ministries, The Salvation Army, Boccardo Reception Center run by HomeFirst and Montgomery Street Inn operated by Inn Vision Shelter Network, all in San Jose, in addition to Project WeHOPE in East Palo Alto.

Another shelter at the former Onizuka Air Force Station in Sunnyvale is expected to bring 125 additional beds, but won’t open until Dec. 5.

The county’s cold weather shelter program was scheduled to start on Monday, but the county’s Office of Supportive Housing can open the locations in the event of inclement weather.

The shelters can open ahead of schedule if the forecast shows an overnight estimate of 38 degrees or lower and less than a 50 percent probability of rain.

They can also open early if an overnight forecast low is 42 degrees or below with a chance of rain at 50 percent or more.

Showers are likely tonight with low temperatures ranging between the low to mid-30s starting Wednesday night and into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Warming centers are also available throughout the county including the Milpitas Community Center, Mountain View Senior Center and Joan Pisani Community Center in Saratoga.

“Opening the South County Shelter early along with offering more emergency shelter beds means that homeless families and individuals will have a safe place to stay warm and dry,” Supervisor Mike Wasserman said in a statement.

“The long-term goal is to reduce the need for emergency shelters by getting more people off the streets and into permanent supportive housing,” Wasserman said.

“We need to provide shelter to as many people as we can and as soon as we can,” board of supervisors President Dave Cortese said.

“We may be in for a long cold and wet winter, which can be life-threatening to those struggling to survive outside,” Cortese said.

Additional information on shelters and warming locations can be found by calling the Office of Supportive Housing at (408) 793-0550.