County officials: More needs to be done to help South Bay homeless amid unhealthy air conditions
POSTED: NOV 16 2018 07:04PM PST
VIDEO POSTED: NOV 16 2018 07:01PM PST
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - As smoke settles over the Bay Area, the advice from health experts is to stay inside. But for the homeless that’s not so easy.
Bernard Giles, who is homeless says, “If you don’t have nowhere to go, you can’t help it. You just forced to be out here.”
Anthony Leon, who is also homeless says, “I notice it in my lungs. Yeah. I’ve got COPD.”
Many living on the streets of San Jose, already have health issues. The smoke just makes them worse.
So advocates used an already planned free health fair to try to help.
In addition to health screenings, shots, and haircuts, they handed out masks too.
Still, Santa Clara County officials say it isn’t enough.
Santa Clara Co Supervisor Dave Cortese says, “We’ve got 5500 people tonight who will be out there in the smoky conditions, unsheltered, struggling… and most of them just need a leg up to know how to get themselves enrolled in some of these programs and resources.”
While libraries and community centers are open for people to get out of the smoke, county officials want more overnight options. They’re trying to get extra warming shelters to open their doors.
They also want more masks. Advocates gave away 300 masks before running out.
Scott Wagers, of CHAM Deliverance Ministries says, “And we didn’t have enough masks today for the people that are compromised. So we need to treat it like a crisis. And we always keep missing that the homeless are the priority.”
Wagers, a homeless advocate, had planned to bring masks out to the encampments too for the people who couldn’t make it to the health fair.
But when they ran out, he brought blankets instead.
He says, “There’s thousands out there and they’re not being reached.”