San Jose nonprofit serves up early Thanksgiving meals to unhoused residents

Hundreds of people stood in line Wednesday for a hot Thanksgiving lunch in San Jose.

Richard Avila, who's unhoused, said he didn't take the meal for granted.

"I haven't eaten in three days," he said.

"I used to live on the street. And I would dig out of garbage cans for food," said Gina Hale.

Hale now sleeps at a homeless shelter. She said a drug addiction helped land her on the street, but that she's been sober for the past year.

"It's nice to know someone cares. That means a lot," she said.

Opening Doors 2020, the homeless outreach nonprofit that helped organize Wednesday's lunch, estimates there are at least 3,000 unsheltered people just in the downtown San Jose corridor alone.

The homeless population doesn't seem to be going down. City leaders said the pandemic only made matters worse.

"The numbers are getting worse. The economic situation is rough for people. People who were close to that point, most have ended up on the street," said San Jose City Councilman David Cohen.

Cohen said the city purchased hotels for unsheltered residents and affordable housing projects are in the pipeline. But they take years to build and the need for services is immediate.