I was disappointed in the Beat’s story (April 8, 2020) about Supervisor Cortese’s memorandum regarding a possible emergency shelter in Milpitas. You focussed on the original proposed site near Piercey Toyota, even though you quote Cortese as saying “I’m proposing that this site be considered along with other available parcels so we can set up temporary shelters that will protect them and the community at large.” You say that “Cortese also bandied about other sites in Milpitas, including other county-owned and Milpitas-owned plots, which could possibly leave other sites away from residential areas as possible shelter space,” and that “Supervisors are “hopeful” that Milpitas city officials will work with them to explore solutions.”
This was the real story, that after his initial proposal Cortese spoke to community leaders and other residents and agreed to include other possible sites for consideration for an emergency shelter that is so badly needed, and agreed that County staff should coordinate with the City. You did Councilmember Karina Dominguez a disservice by saying she “broke with some of her colleagues by pledging “100 percent support” at the meeting,’ when in fact, she was supporting the REVISED proposal, which she had suggested to him in advance of the meeting. This revised proposal directed staff to explore the possibility of using existing hotels and the designation of one full time county employee to support our city . This county employee would be assigned to get the unhoused in Milpitas registered on the county waitlist and to receive additional services during their transition period. This referral would be funded by the County of Santa Clara and not the City of Milpitas.
You also ONLY cited community opposition to the idea, whereas I and others spoke in favor of the proposal. According to the 2019 Homeless Census & Survey we had at least 125 homeless people living here in Milpitas. We know that without access to facilities for hand washing and laundry, with no room for social distancing, and no place to shelter at home, this population is unable to comply with guidelines put in place to slow the spread of Covid 19. We also know that there is a high percentage of folks with risk factors for this illness within this population. If they catch it they will be more likely to need hospitalization, ICU, and intubation, putting a greater strain on the healthcare system. Providing temporary shelter for our fellow Milpitans at this time is not only the compassionate thing to do, but is the right thing to do for public health and safety. These folks live here, not sheltering them is the greater danger.
I hope in the future you will tell the WHOLE story, not just one piece of it. Milpitas deserves it. When our City and County representatives work together to come up with solutions they should be applauded.
Yours in Community,