“We have different libraries, and community centers and senior centers and sports centers and places like that all throughout the county that open their doors to anybody who wants to come in out of the cold during the day," he said.
Dolci noted that in general it’s been especially difficult lately to connect homeless individuals with permanent supportive housing due to rising costs.
“Even with the most amount of rental subsidies that we have available now -- ever -- in my years of doing this, it is so hard to find housing because it’s so expensive,” Dolci said. “We have a 1 percent vacancy rate.”
Dolci said his agency is in need of more case managers who can work with individuals to help them get off the streets.
Case managers “help the person deal with issues that are related to getting them into, and staying in, housing,” he said. “If they're not connected to mental health services, to get them connected to those. If they need some recovery assistance, help get them connected to a recovery program. Or if they need to get connected to government benefits, to help them do that. Or if they need a rental assistance or deposit assistance, they help them go through those processes.”
On Sept. 15, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved $17.4 million in funding for homeless services. It will go toward hiring case managers, bolstering assistance to individuals threatened with homelessness and aiding five shelters that are struggling to raise money to help them operate at full capacity.
Cold temperatures tonight and Saturday may only be the start of a winter season marked by a higher number of frigid, wet winter storms.
San Francisco city government is also planning for a significant shelter bed expansion in advance of the anticipated El Niño storms. The city's annual emergency winter shelter program began Nov. 22 and is scheduled to operate through Feb. 27.
The St. Anthony Foundation, which provides a free lunch service to people in need in the Tenderloin, is one space that could open up to serve as a temporary shelter in the event of an extreme weather event, said spokeswoman Jessie Brierley. "The official plan is to open our services on a pop-up basis," she said. "We should be able to start responding by the first week of December."
Brierley said that during a Thanksgiving meal at St. Anthony's dining hall on Thursday, she noticed a guest lingering there longer than usual. "He said, 'I just don't want to go outside,' " she noted, adding that it was a reminder that many people have nowhere to go when a winter chill sets in.
In San Francisco, "we're definitely lacking shelter space," Brierley said, "compared to the number of homeless people there are."
East Bay cities are also opening winter shelters ahead of the forecast cold snap that could last through next week.
Oakland opened a winter shelter Nov. 16, with 50 additional beds available until mid-April. The shelter generally requires a referral voucher from one of several agencies that work with homeless people. However, the shelter -- at St. Vincent de Paul at 675 23rd St. in Oakland -- does take walk-ins if it doesn’t fill up.
People seeking a bed who are unable to obtain a voucher should call 510-385-7757 after 7 p.m. to check availability.