Inside The Massive Silicon Valley Homeless Shelter The Neighbours Didn't Want Built

With about 180 beds, the Boccardo Regional Reception Center is the largest homeless shelter in the Silicon Valley. And with more than 7,000 people sleeping on the streets of San Jose every night, the need for it is dire.

Boccardo doesn’t just want to provide a bed for a night; its focus is on fighting homelessness through an array of services like assisting with mental illness, addiction, unemployment, transportation, and help securing long-term housing.

Business Insider was invited inside the shelter to see how it all comes together, and to get an idea of what it’s like to actually live in and use centres like this.

Funded by local philanthropist James 'Jim' Boccardo, the shelter serves everyone who needs its services: All first-timers are guaranteed shelter.

20-four hours a day, seven days a week, staff assist an endless flow of Silicon Valley's homeless.

It was designed to look more like an apartment complex than a typical homeless shelter. Guests are provided toiletries and meals, and there is even a medical clinic on site offering basic screening, primary care, immunizations and even dental care.

The neighbours fought to keep Boccardo from opening. Boccardo had to install an electric gate at this nearby trailer park to appease residents.

They also had to increase the height of their walls a couple of feet before opposition eased and the center was granted approval.

Keeping the homeless off the streets means keeping alive those who might otherwise perish from exposure and other dangers.

Officials here know that a place to sleep is not enough; the problem needs to be approached tactically. Boccardo focuses on actually ending homelessness in the area ...

... not just offering a bed for the night.

It offers three meals a day to those who take part in their programs, and two meals a day to those staying on a day-to-day basis.

The center offers help in battling addiction and getting people treatment ...

... and transportation services to get them around the city for job interviews and errands.

The center also helps those with mental illness get the treatment they need in facilities throughout the area, like this mobile medical facility provided by the city.

There's a computer center for staying in touch with family and friends and to remain connected to the outside world.

There are lockers to keep safe the few possessions the homeless have.

They also offer help finding a job. Unfortunately, hardly any unskilled positions offer enough pay to keep people off the streets here.

One of the biggest values Boccardo offers Silicon Valley's homeless community is a guaranteed place to go, any time of the year...

And a staff who have been on the streets themselves, that genuinely cares about the homeless.

Shelters are just one option to homeless residents

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