Dozens of homeless people lined up outside of the North County's new cold weather shelter Monday night, seeking a meal and a warm place to sleep.
The new facility is run by the homeless services agency HomeFirst, and is seen as a much-needed replacement for the old Sunnyvale Armory. The armory provided 125 beds to homeless people in the North County during the cold winter months before it was closed down in early 2014. There was already little in the way of shelter space in the northern end of the county, and homeless people looking for a warm place to stay had to be referred to the Boccardo Reception Center down in San Jose.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian spearheaded an effort, starting in April 2014, to find a replacement for the armory. Options were pretty limited, Simitian told the Voice in June. The hot real estate market meant trying to find a new location for a shelter in the North County had been nothing short of a "Herculean task."
The facility itself is a portable building, pieced together in about a week, consisting of a single giant room full of bed rolls for people to sleep on. In the back is a kitchen area with tables for breakfast and lunch, where HomeFirst staff began serving up mashed potatoes to the people trickling in.
Simitian said the portable building is ideal for the temporary location, and can be easily taken apart and put back together. While the facility itself appears modest, with no partitions, Simitian said the very open floor plan makes it easier to handle changes ratio of men, women and families who show up. Overall, he said, it's an improvement over the Sunnyvale Armory, even though it will only last through March.
"The armory had seen a lot of years of wear and tear. In many ways, this is an upgrade," Simitian said.