Homeless families in Santa Clara County struggling to find temporary housing

Advocates in Santa Clara County say this winter’s cold weather is highlighting another issue for people without housing. It’s not just single men and women struggling to stay housed and warm, but families are struggling as well.  

County officials are working with the federal government to immediately address housing needs there but right now, advocates say more and more families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.   

"I believe it’s like at least a three-week waiting list for families," said Shaunn Cartwright, with Unhoused Response Group.    

Unhoused Response Group or URG distributed supplies Monday to people living along local creeks in San Jose. While many of the people they assisted were single and unhoused, Founder Shaunn Cartwright says emergency or temporary housing is limited for a lot of unhoused families. 

"A lot of the families are just trying to scatter wherever they can, other people’s housing, motor homes. You know things like that," Cartwright said.  

The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development or H.U.D. also announced Monday that $5.6 billion will be granted to 1,200 communities across the country including Santa Clara County. The funding will go to affordable housing, community development and homeless assistance. For people like Juanita Picazo the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time.  

"I was lucky today to have a room thanks to a friend of mine. Other than that, we’re out here in the streets too," Picazo said.   

Picazo says she and her severely disabled son Matthew were evicted in December after disturbance complaints about Matthew’s emotional meltdowns and behavior. She says her son turned 18 during the height of the pandemic and since then, she’s struggled to get him back in school and therapy assistance he needs. Because of Matthew’s disability, staying in shelter is not an option.  

"We attempted it, but it was too much for him. He stormed off, and I couldn’t get him back in," Picazo said.   

Picazo says she does receive supplemental security income or S.S.I. to help care for her son but for the last two months, it’s the lack of housing that’s been her hardest struggle.  

"I need help with housing. That’s the main thing I do need. I need a stable place to be able to care for my son and to be able to get him the help that he needs which is the therapy, and the resources that he needs right now," Picazo said.   

Santa Clara County will receive nearly $2.5 million from H.U.D. in this latest round of funding. In the meantime, Picazo says she’ll continue reaching out to the county and other agencies for help.

A GoFundMe account has been sent up for Juanita Picazo and her son Matthew.