FREMONT (KPIX 5) — Michael Sanz became emotional Tuesday night outside a Fremont city council meeting about where city leaders are considering building a homeless shelter.
“So the question I wanted to pose to the council people is, are they accountable for what may happen to the kids as they pass by this place, have they thought about that?” Sanz said.
City leaders want to build a navigation center, which would serve as a shelter and provide services to help clients find long term housing, at Niles Discovery Church off of Nursery Avenue. The center would help 45 people at a time for a maximum of six months each.
Sanz said he lives a quarter mile away from the church, which is less than a half mile away from an elementary school. He said children walk past the church every day of the school year.
“This is not the place for this solution,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen or what could happen?”
The homeless population in Alameda County has increased 43 percent in the last two years, according to a city report. Last month, KPIX reported that several homeless people in Fremont were now living in trees.
Hayes Shair, who is part of the group called “Yes In My Backyard,” set up a table outside the special council meeting to spread their own message to those opposed to the idea of the Navigation Center.
“There’s obviously no perfect site, everything is a series of trade offs, and our response is if not there, than where,” said Hayes.
City leaders said besides the church, they are also considering two other locations, including a future BART station site and the city’s maintenance center. Sanz said he believes that a solution needs to be found to help the homeless, but the church should not be the site.
“That’s really the question. ‘Are you willing to take that risk?'” he said.