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A Harsh Winter for the Homeless

Tanvi Siddhaye

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For the homeless in the Bay Area, this winter has been especially difficult. This winter has been cold in the Bay area, both in the north and the south, which has contributed to the crowding of many winter shelters for the homeless. In addition to the cold winter, the Bay Area has also seen a large increase in its homeless population because of the rising housing prices, which are due to the high economic value of the area.
Because of this, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and many other cities in the area have opened shelters to house the homeless from the recent cold weather. Sunnyvale opened its cold shelter in October 2017, after the raging California wildfires, according to Mercury News. The shelter will probably be more crowded towards late winter with La Nina, the cold weather aftermath of El Nino, prompting January and February to be colder and rainier than December.
Inside the special shelters, guests can have reserved beds, showers, as wells as washers and dryers to clean their clothes. Other shelters in the Bay Area have similar utilities but often need support in maintenance. This is because of less volunteers at homeless shelters after the holidays, according to CBS News.
This winter has been cold and dry, and January is expected to be even more cold, according to NBC News. In the beginning of December, the Bay Area had a “cold snap” where temperatures dropped to below-freezing temperatures. Unlike the East Coast, Silicon Valley rarely experiences such cold weather during its winters, and the reason is likely the effect of La Nina.
La Nina is a complex weather pattern that occurs less frequently than El Nino and can cause colder temperatures to extend slightly closer towards the equator than most winters, according to the National Ocean Service. It can often have the opposite effects of El Nino, which include high temperatures and wetter climates. This explains why much of the east coast is facing incredibly cold conditions, while we are facing very cold conditions as well. La Nina also causes dry weather patterns in the southern United States.
Since Thanksgiving, there have been over six cases of homeless deaths caused by hypothermia in the Bay Area, according to NBC News. In December alone, the Santa Clara County coroner’s office confirmed that four middle-aged homeless men died at various encampments in the South Bay. The numbers of cold-related deaths have risen this winter compared to any other one in the Bay Area, making winter increasingly challenging for our community.

Courtesy of Life of Pix
This winter in particular has been especially harsh for the homeless in the Bay Area.

According to Mercury News, housing prices have been going up for sixty eight consecutive weeks. Many people suspect that they are at a peak, but experts agree that they will keep rising because of the large demand that can afford to buy houses, apartments, and townhomes in the Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is home to many large tech companies, like Apple and Google which have raised the value of Bay Area houses considerably through economic growth. The supply of starter homes, or small one to two bedroom houses, dropped fifty five percent in San Jose last year. The housing crisis in the Bay Area is making this harsh winter even more difficult for people in low-income households.
There are many factors that have led to a homeless crisis in the Bay Area, but there are also many ways in which our Wilcox community can help the homeless during the remainder of the winter. The homeless shelter usually needs volunteers, which students at Wilcox can sign up for. Students can also donate money to many organizations in the Bay Area that help the homeless community like Community Housing Partnership and First Place for Youth, help support homeless individuals get education, opportunities, or other necessities to overcome some of the harsh challenges that many face in the Bay Area. Life can be a challenge for people without homes, but our community can help these people bounce back.

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The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California
A Harsh Winter for the Homeless