CUPERTINO — After a handful of homeless residents have spent
months in camps along Wolfe Road without bathrooms or running water
in the midst of a pandemic, city officials said they’re taking
steps this week to provide basic hygiene services.
The city will start regular trash pick-up there this week, and
is working on installing a portable toilet and hand-washing station
at the site, City Manager Deborah Feng told council members Tuesday
night, as she gave an update on the city’s COVID-19 response.
Details about the toilet and hand-washing station had not been
finalized — Feng said the city is working with a partner on the
project, but wouldn’t say who the partner is. But Feng hopes to
have both installed by the end of the week.
“We think this is the best way to keep it sanitary and clean
for the duration of the shelter in place,” she said.
The news came a day after the Bay Area News Group published an
article about the encampments, which formed earlier this year
and marked the first time in recent memory that Cupertino has had a
visible homelessness problem. The camps — a cluster of fewer than
a dozen tents next to the Vallco construction site, and one
make-shift shelter across from the Apple campus — were created by
residents who had previously been living out-of-sight along
Cupertino’s highway on and off-ramps and creek beds. Since then,
the city and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office have been
flooded with complaints about the new, more high-profile camps.
Feng’s announcement signals an about-face by the city. Last
week, a city representative told this news organization there was
no room to set up portable bathrooms and handwashing stations at
But Feng said she changed her mind after urging from a local
resident — Better Cupertino member Jim Moore.
“I had taken an initial look at it and didn’t think it was
going to fit,” she said. “But you know, he’s looked at it, he
took pictures and sent them, other people looked at it at his
urging, and we are moving ahead.”
Walter Adam Becker, who lives at the Vallco encampment, said a
sheriff’s office deputy stopped by to tell residents they’d be
getting a bathroom.
“I’m grateful that they want to help,” 43-year-old Becker
wrote in a text message to this news organization. “Even through
the riots. I appreciate them and respect it.”
CALIFORNIA – MAY 26: Walter Adam Becker talks to the Mercury News
at a homeless encampment along Wolfe Road next to Vallco in
Cupertino, Calif., on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay
Area News Group)
Several Cupertino residents called into the virtual council
meeting Tuesday to express concerns about the encampments. Many
referenced the Bay Area News Group article.
Peggy Griffin said sheâ€™s worried about hygiene at the
â€œGive them bathrooms and places to wash their hands,â€ she
said. â€œThese are real people, and they need them. And if they
donâ€™t have them, theyâ€™re going to use something else. And the
stores arenâ€™t open, so the options are not pleasant.â€
City officials and the sheriffâ€™s office have said they will
not disband the Wolfe Road camps while the coronavirus
shelter-in-place order is in effect â€” per federal health
guidelines. But once the order lifts, they plan to clear the tents
from the sidewalk.
Because Cupertino has no homeless shelters, nor has the city set
up emergency COVID-19 housing, itâ€™s unclear what will happen to
residents when that time comes.
Councilman Rod Sinks urged his colleagues to think about
starting the process of building a short-term homeless shelter, as
well as longer-term housing.
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â€œI really appreciate these mitigation measures in a temporary
sense,â€ he said of the trash service, toilet and hand-washing
station. â€œAnd I hope we can move forward and think about where we
could locate permanent supportive housing. Itâ€™s going to take
Feng said the city is working on other options in the meantime,
including talking to local faith leaders about setting up interim
â€œWe are coming up with other solutions that may work more
near-term,â€ she said. â€œBut itâ€™s a complicated matter, so
weâ€™re moving diligently but carefully. And this first step, this
next interim step with addressing the sanitation and trash
collection for them, will help.â€
Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
After months of complaints, Cupertino homeless camp to get a