East Bay Winter Shelter for Seniors Opens Monday

The East Bay's only winter shelter for homeless seniors will open Monday, two weeks early, to meet urgent need in the community, shelter officials said.

Staff at St. Mary's Center, at 925 Brockhurst St. in West Oakland, held a workday on Thursday to ready the facility for opening on Monday.

The shelter can house up to 30 seniors per night, and will be open to unhoused men and women age 55 and older from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week through April 2020.

Shelter officials point to research showing that seniors are the fastest growing demographic among the homeless. The region's increasing rental costs are also driving more seniors into homelessness.

"The tragedy of homelessness is not that people have to see it, but that as a society, we make people live it when there are solutions right at hand," said Sharon Cornu, executive director of the St. Mary's Center.

Last year, the shelter housed 119 seniors and helped find permanent homes for 20, as well as transitional housing for 17 and shelter for 13, Cornu said.

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