San Leandro's Homeless Population: Mostly Middle-Aged White Males

San Leandro has over 500 people lacking shelter. Most of them are white males in their 50s and 60s.

FILE PHOTO. Courtesy Flickr user Blodeuwedd. Licensed under Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50999011@N08/4944446921/
FILE PHOTO. Courtesy Flickr user Blodeuwedd. Licensed under Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50999011@N08/4944446921/

According to an East Bay Citizen article, San Leandro has over 500 people lacking shelter. However, they’re not minorities or young people — the typical profile of the homeless are white males in their 50s and 60s, says Rose Padilla Johnson, executive director of Davis Street Family Resource Center.

The closest shelter is Building Futures with Women and Children on Bancroft Avenue, but it’s only for women and children. 

Shelters for men are in Berkeley, Fremont and Oakland. Homeless men in San Leandro and Hayward are out of luck.

Many men would prefer to stay in a familiar area. “Because they have roots in San Leandro, they will avoid those [shelters] as much as possible," says Johnson. 

Last year, Hayward City Council discussed the issue of free food-sharing program in city parks and the lack of options for homeless males. According to East Bay Citizen, the problem is funding. Due to the recession, cities had to cut part of their budgets — this included services for the poor. Just like Hayward, the city of San Leandro is no different.

At the council meeting on Monday, Johnson urged the city to address this problem.

“Ask the people who need help because we always think we know everything,” said Johnson. “If we don’t come up with a strategy, short-term and long-term, then guess what? Every five years we’re going to have this conversation.”

Councilmember Diana Souza questioned if the city had enough money to form a task force. 

The discussion will continue at the council retreat on Feb. 1. 

Theresa Lupo January 10, 2014 at 01:16 PM
Thank you for bringing this subject up because we do need to help the homeless in San Leandro. Without the churches in San Leandro these people would not survive period.Yes because of lack of funds plus i do not think that San Leandro residents want a shelter near their own homes (i may be wrong but maybe not)....the homeless remain homeless sleeping in the creeks , bushes, cars , under the freeways ,on the sidewalks (in which ALL these places are ILLEGAL to be sleeping there).....wow.....they make you a criminal because you are homeless.If i could change one law i would change the law that says "it is illegal to sleep in your car".
Ronald Keeney January 12, 2014 at 12:16 AM
As Ms. Johnson points out, there are several local organizations dealing with various aspects of homelessness, but one missing item is a shelter for men. Unfortunately, we have a good news/bad news situation here. The good news is that there is a program that does end homelessness. Called Housing First, it moves homeless persons into supportive permanent housing with few rules or restrictions, but with intense professional help to deal with the causes of their homelessness. Overseen by the EveryOneHome project, Building Futures and other organizations are successfully ending homelessness for many people. And the bad news? Many agencies, including the State of California, are putting ALL of their funding into this program, and none to “temporary” projects such as shelters. It may take many years to build all the needed Housing First facilities; WHAT ARE HOMELESS MEN (AND WOMEN) SUPPOSEDTO DO UNTIL THEN? It’s up to local communities to find solutions; the ball’s in our court. In 2002, a homeless man, Clement McMenemy, was found dead one morning at a construction site in San Leandro. People were outraged, a public meeting was held, a task force organized, and the April Showers program begun. Twice a month, for over a dozen years, homeless men and women have been able to shower, receive a hot lunch and a bag lunch, select used clothing, get a haircut and a voucher to use at a local laundromat . This is done entirely by volunteers, and funded almost entirely by individuals, churches, and other local organizations Now, a men’s shelter is what is needed. May we not need another death of a homeless person in San Leandro to move us to action.


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