Santa Clara County trying to thin out homeless shelters during pandemic

Santa Clara County is tackling the homeless crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic by trying to thin out the shelters and prevent further spread.

To do this – they have transformed buildings at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds into temporary housing.

Buildings that are typically used for large events, like weddings, will now be filled with 60 to 80 cots.

”Nothing we do in any building will be packed anymore,” said City Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Chavez said the cots will be spaced at least 6 feet apart for social distancing.

”What we’re trying to do is make sure none of the shelters are so crowded. That if somebody gets sick or has the virus that other people don’t get it easily,” said Chavez.

Officials have been working with some of the county shelters, to move some of the homeless there to the fairgrounds instead. At the fairgrounds, they will have access to clean bathrooms, be able to wash hands frequently, and there’s a COVID-19 testing center on site.

A second building will either be used for overflow or as a place where people can sign up for  benefits.

If someone does get sick, they will be sent to a trailer where they will go into isolation.

”I know people are frightened,” said Chavez. “I know that 25 families lost loved ones in our community and I’m so sorry for those families that are suffering and have family members that are sick. The reason we are out here today is I want people to know we are working really hard to fight this virus and stop its spread in our community.”

Elissa Harrington is a reporter forKTVU.  Email Elissa at and follow her onTwitter @EHarringtonKTVU