San Jose’s largest emergency shelter will be closed

COVID-19 restrictions in the area will be dismantled, as will San Jose’s largest temporary shelter.

South Hall, an 80,000-square-foot space in the downtown San Jose McEnery Convention Center, will close its COVID-19 shelter through July 15. It will be cleaned and handed over to Team San Jose, the city’s visitor and tourist organization. until August 1st

The hall currently serves as the largest temporary meeting place in the city, where families have separate quarters but share rooms such as a kitchen or bathroom.

“We don’t want anyone leaving South Hall homeless,” said Jeff Scott, spokesman for the city’s housing department. “We meet with every guest at South Hall to help them develop personalized living plans.”

Team San Jose employees work on an assembly line preparing three meals a day, including a hot dinner, for people at the McEnery Convention Center and other locations. Photo by Nicholas Chan.

Most nights, South Hall is home to around 200 adults. Guests receive prepackaged meals and have access to on-site showers and laundry facilities. Santa Clara County also offered the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone who lived in South Hall.

San Jose used South Hall as part of its multi-pronged COVID-19 homeless response, including similar accommodation for families at Camden Community Center in South San Jose, placing sinks and portable toilets in homeless camps, and organizing rubbish collection days in camps.

The city came under fire late last year when a report by San José Spotlight revealed that officials had cleared homeless camps at the height of the pandemic despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of the risk of the spread of COVID- 19 not to do.

Homeless activist Shaunn Cartwright believes the South Hall closure will cause an even bigger problem in the city. According to Cartwright, many of South Hall’s 200+ residents have no housing plans after July 15, and she doubts that local services will be stepped up.

“They swear that they will find a place for everyone. Two hundred people? That’s impossible, ”said Cartwright. “We don’t even have a month if you take weekends with you.”

The San Jose McEnery Convention Center, home of Team San Jose’s office, is shown in this file photo.

The city’s housing department has partnered with homeless service provider HomeFirst to coordinate and operate the emergency shelter in South Hall. HomeFirst declined to comment on this article.

Scott said the shelter, which opened in April 2020, helped slow the spread of COVID-19 by allowing unhodged people to find shelter on the spot. The city council decided last October to extend the emergency shelter for the homeless until spring.

Future housing plans for those cared for in South Hall will be determined through an evaluation by HomeFirst and the city with the involvement of the residents themselves. Guests may have multiple lodging and protection options available to guests depending on their circumstances, including motel vouchers, bridge or temporary housing, permanent support housing, quick relocations, Santa Clara County housing, and one-time financial assistance.

By Sunday evening, approximately 1,329,849 Santa Clara County’s residents ages 12 and older – 77.5% – had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 1,135,424 people, or 66.2% of those aged 12 and over, have completed the vaccination. To date, 119,280 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,153 have died.

Other signs that downtown decor is returning to normal: From September 24th to November 14th, South Hall will host Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, a three-dimensional art exhibition featuring the most popular works by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh presented in a walk-in experience. Ticket sales for the event went on Friday.

🌻 PRE-SALE 🌻
Get your presale tickets today for Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, which opens September 24th! 🖼

Now use the code SUNFLOWER – 11:55 pm >> https://t.co/7hWL0CZOpR. Tomorrow the general public will be sold. pic.twitter.com/SYyyGiahtq

– San Jose Civic (@SanJoseCivic) June 3, 2021

“What a great way to start the revitalization and return of events with such an exclusive experience,” said Frances Wong, director of marketing and communications for Visit San Jose, the city’s marketing arm.

While city and community officials are thrilled to see congressional events returning to South Hall, Cartwright said it was too early. She said many of the people detained there had few mental health services and were not trained in everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, which would make daily life difficult. And not all residents have solid post-housing plans.

“South Hall is closing because the city is planning to hold conventions again,” Cartwright said. “So they prefer profits to people.”

If you need temporary shelter, visit the city’s COVID-19 homeless website or call (408) 278-6420.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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