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County Approves Funds to Secure Project WeHOPE Shelter Beds


SAN JOSE –  At its Tuesday, April 15 meeting the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors made a bold statement when it approved a modest $76,650 in funding for East Palo Alto’s Project WeHOPE as part of the Measure A funding process. Bold because Project WeHOPE and its shelter are located outside Santa Clara County in neighboring San Mateo County.

“The point is,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, “that these folks are homeless. And the only large scale homeless shelter we have in northern Santa Clara County just closed its doors for good. We need a Plan B, and we need it fast. Project WeHOPE is only a stone’s throw away from the County line, and they want to be part of the solution. Clearly, this is a win-win.”

The $76,650 in funding will ensure five beds at the Project WeHOPE Shelter are dedicated 365 days a year to residents whose last known address was in Santa Clara County. It will also pay for case management services to help the homeless transition back into the mainstream.

Project WeHope is a 501(c)(3) located in the City of East Palo Alto and run by Pastor Paul Bains. Their shelter has been open since 2009 and provides food, overnight shelter, financial literacy classes and case management services that range from medical and dental care to job placement and assistance with housing or transportation.

Pastor Bains remembers when he first approached Supervisor Simitian in the fall of 2013. Simitian shared with him his previous support for working across county lines to help secure funds for a homeless shelter called Clara-Mateo, then located on the grounds of the Veteran’s Hospital in Menlo Park.

Even though Simitian represents Santa Clara County constituents, he encouraged Bains to apply for funding through the County’s Measure A process – a voter-approved sales tax collected by the County and devoted to specific funding priorities including services for the homeless.

Pastor Bains recalls, “Measure A funding seemed like a long shot at the time, but we made the cut.  I’m so pleased to have this opportunity to serve folks from Santa Clara County. I’m grateful to Supervisor Simitian for realizing that a regional problem needs regional solutions, and grateful to the County for its support.”

Project WeHOPE’s application for support was one of just 17 approved from a list of 98 applicants.

Simitian further observed, “San Jose is the geographic, political and population center of Santa Clara County. I understand that. But I represent the North County. Representing a part of the County that is slightly removed from that center can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to ensuring folks have access to the services they need. The work we’ll be doing with Project WeHOPE will help to ensure the homeless of northern Santa Clara County can get the services they need locally.”