The South County Cold Weather Shelter opened in Gilroy on Nov. 17.
Located at the California National Guard Armory, 8490 Wren Ave., the facility provides sleeping accommodations, hot meals, showers and restrooms, and case management support services to 70-100 individuals—including men, women and families—this season on a referral basis only.
In response to the pandemic, service provider HomeFirst Services, the nonprofit agency that operates the shelter, has made some changes to the operations. The usual capacity for this site is more than 130, but due to the social distancing requirements driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, maximum occupancy this year was reduced to 70-100 beds.
Additionally, the facility will be a 24-hour shelter this year. Rather than the traditional arrangement of welcoming guests to the shelter no earlier than 6pm each evening and requiring they leave by 7am, guests will have access to the shelter all day, every day until it closes on April 15.
Mask wearing, hand cleanliness, temperature and symptom monitoring combined with appropriate quarantining and/or isolation will be maintained.
“Being homeless contributes seriously to an individual’s physical vulnerability, and never more so than when extreme weather strikes,” said Andrea K. Urton, HomeFirst CEO. “This year we are all contending with the peculiar challenges of this terrible virus. So, in keeping the shelter open all day and night, we hope to offer protection to those most in need.”
Registered shelter guests at the Gilroy site will be guaranteed a bed through the entire opening period, which closes on April 15. There are no drop-in accommodations.
HomeFirst Services offers shelter and services to more than 6,000 homeless men, women and children a year with nine locations from Gilroy to Menlo Park. Programs range from prevention and street-based outreach to emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing.
To obtain a referral, homeless individuals seeking help and participating agencies should contact the Homeless Helpline at 408.510.7600 or email [email protected]