Livermore homeless seek shelter at post office

LIVERMORE (KTVU) -- Some postal customers are voicing complaints about homeless people spending the night in a local post office.

Visitors to the postal center on South Livermore Avenue have reported several encounters with homeless men and women who seek shelter in the facility.

"There's a couple of people I see, including a lady that's in a wheel chair in here late at night," said Chris Wells. "I don't see a problem. She wants somewhere to stay (that's) warm (and that's) the bottom line."

Officials say over the past year the lobby of the post office has been repeatedly used by the homeless as a make-shift shelter.

KTVU FOX 2 News spoke to Anthony Hinojoza, who was sleeping in the lobby Friday evening. Said Hinojoza: "I really don't know where to go (since) there is nowhere go for me in Livermore at the moment. I've tried shelters and there is nowhere to go."

While Hinojoza was sleeping, customers like Tonja Stevens spoke about ongoing problems that result.

They make a mess in the lobby and there is urine and puke," said Stevens, adding that she has seen men with alcohol or having unzipped pants.

Other Livermore residents were sympathetic.

"I've come in late (and it maybe) cold out (and) people need a place to stay," Wells said. "So for me, I understand it."

The Tri-Valley has six homeless shelters and all of them are located in Livermore. Christine Dillman, director of the Tri-Valley Haven, which has 16 beds, said there is a shortage of space for homeless people.

"Were always full," she said, adding that her agency performs outreach missions, provides a food pantry, blankets and counseling to those who need them.

Livermore officials convened a summit on the city's housing crisis two years ago but municipal leaders are still trying to solve the problem. The city is also seeking state and federal funding to develop more affordable housing.

Meanwhile, the city's postmaster plans to limit the Livermore post office's hours so the lobby will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day except on Sunday, when the lobby will close at 6 a.m.

With the restricted hours, Hinojoza said he faces a crisis of his own.

"I know it's going to be closed," he said. "But I don't know where to go. There is nowhere to go".

By KTVU reporter Rob Malcolm.