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Concerns About South Bay Homeless As New Year To Begin With Cold Snap, Lows Near Freezing

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Following a winter storm, unseasonably cold overnight temperatures are going to stick around in the South Bay for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, prompting worries about the unhoused.

Relentless rain caused a flood advisory on Wednesday that expired at 8 p.m. Now the concern is the dropping overnight temperatures on Friday and Saturday.

"Imagine being outside and just how cold that is," said homeless advocate Shaunn Cartwright. "That is how people die."

Cartwright and other volunteers plan to hand out hot cocoa, tarps and tents to the unhoused on Friday before the temperatures fall into the thirties.

Two warming centers will be provided by the city of San Jose, but according to Cartwright only 60 beds will be available. The city spokesperson for the department of housing didn't return KPIX 5 request for information and an interview to confirm that number.

There are thousands who are homeless in Santa Clara County.

"It's like there's a ton of starving people and you show up with three packets of top ramen and expect that that's going to feed everybody, it's just ridiculous," said Cartwright. "All the advocates, all of us feel like, 'I have to save a life,' that we are the only lifeline that people have so everyone's been out there trying to get out tarps and tents and things like that."

A Santa Clara County spokesperson emailed KPIX 5 to say they'll also be handing out blankets, hand warmers and beanies to the unhoused. Shelter capacity will also be expanded, but the spokesperson did not provide numbers of how many beds will be made available.

Meanwhile, the winter storm has impacted restaurant owners who continue to provide parklets for their customers amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

But the rain and cold kept many away from sitting outdoors on Wednesday night, and business owners like Megan Kawkab said they felt a chill on sales.

"I would say we're down probably 20%," Kawkab said. "I love it and I hate it. It's a necessary evil that we must have, but it is cold and it's hard to be providing fabulous dining outdoors."

Alex Guilliano, who is the director of food and beverage for Sushi Confidential in San Jose and Campbell, said many customers would rather still dine outdoors because of the threat of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. However, he said the storm has impacted definitely business.

"What happens when it rains really hard, we get more of Doordash and we get a lot of phone calls," Guilliano said. "People still come in and pick up food. Doordash gets very, very busy."

Temperatures are expected to improve after the New Year, however, another round of rain is expected next week.

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