As winter approaches and the weather gets colder, thousands of homeless people will now be able to seek shelter at three locations in Santa Clara County.
Starting today, the Milpitas-based nonprofit EHC LifeBuilders is operating its Cold Weather Shelter Program, which will be in effect through March.
Under the annual program, which has been in place for two decades, shelters providing nightly emergency beds are opening at the Boccardo Reception Center in San Jose and at the National Guard armories in Gilroy and Sunnyvale.
EHC representatives said the program serves about 2,800 people each year, with a portion of the beds reserved for veterans and people who
have been living in homeless encampments.
This year, EHC is implementing a new strategy to help keep homeless people off of the streets by reserving 200 beds nightly for those enrolled in programs at the Boccardo Reception Center, geared toward setting people up with employment and permanent housing.
"The Cold Weather Program provides life-saving shelter to thousands during the winter months and his absolutely critical," Jennifer Niklaus, CEO of EHC LifeBuilders, said in a statement.
"However, I am pleased by the change in the ratio of beds at the BRC this year because it allows our clients to more successfully gain self-sufficiency and permanent housing," she said. "By focusing our resources on those that are most effective, we are providing a pathway for our clients to end their homelessness permanently."
Organization officials said more than 7,000 people countywide find themselves homeless on any given night.
The EHC shelters are located at the Boccardo Reception Center at 2011 Little Orchard St. in San Jose, the National Guard Armory at 8940 Wren Ave. in Gilroy, and the former National Guard Armory at 620 East Maude Ave.
--Bay City News Service