City takes a look at homeless issue

Mark Allmond

The stabbing of a Gilroy pizza restaurant last week by a homeless man with a criminal record fueled a special public meeting Jan. 17 with city officials to discuss issues with the city’s homeless population.

The hosted the special study session at 6:00 pm at City Hall to study homelessness in the city with guest speakers such as Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee, and Gilroy Compassion Center Board Chair Jan Bernstein Chargin.

“Gilroy accounts for 2.5 percent of the population of Santa Clara County, yet we have 10 percent of the homeless population,” said Councilmember Dan Harney. “I think they come here because of the number of compassionate people and services they can get in Gilroy.”

The stabbing of Pinocchio’s Pizza owner Sal Oliveri occurred Saturday, Jan. 6 around 5:30 pm. Oliveri suffered a deep cut into his arm as the business owner acted to defend his wife and daughter. The assailant waved what was reported by Oliveri, 62, a large switchblade knife, long and hefty enough to cut deep through the tendons of his arm to the bone.

The Gilroy Police Department was on the scene within minutes to arrest Allmond within minutes of the attack. No long after, Gilroy Police arrested a second man who repeatedly harassed the business by pounding on the glass and making threats. The identity of the second arrestee has yet to be identified.

“It was a very traumatic experience,” said Gina Oliveri Polhaupessy, 29, Oliveri’s daughter, who witnessed the attack. “You feel very violated having someone come into your business like that.”

“You’d be surprised how many of the homeless are from Gilroy,” Harney said. “There are a lot of second- or third-generation Gilroyans who are down on their luck and can’t afford to pay $2,000 or $3,000 a month in rent. I understand that, and I think that families from Gilroy should be our first priority.’

In Las Animas Park, in the dog park, on a normal weekend afternoon, a congregation of homeless people rested along the stream. Many of them, in the estimation of many law enforcement officials, are out on the street due in part to the passage of Propositions 47 and 57. Proposition 47, passed in 2014 by almost 60 percent of the vote, reducing the non-violent crimes, such as many drug offenses, to misdemeanors rather than felonies.

In an interview in August, Smithee said that the latest count of homeless in Gilroy was 752.


  1. City residents and business owners say homeless people are a minus not all. People and families are homeless due to hardship of some sort. Different generations are from Gilroy and homeless. We should as a Community should help fix the problem cause its not getting any better just worse. U can’t help or change those who don’t want it, but those who do we can try and come together to house them wherever possible. We got vacant lots, buildings make more affordable housing that those who can afford and can get off the streets