Palo Alto homeless shelter celebrates a decade of transformation


As rents around the Bay Area remain high, one Palo Alto organization is celebrating a decade of providing affordable housing, medical services and other amenities to the area’s homeless and near-homeless community.

The Opportunity Center celebrated its 10-year anniversary on April 29 with a gathering at its Palo Alto location. Guest speakers, including Sen. Jerry Hill of the California 13th District and Mayor Greg Scharff of the City of Palo Alto, congratulated the center on its achievements. The event was attended by the founders of the Opportunity Center, former clients of the center, volunteers and members of the Community Working Group — an organization formed to plan and create the Opportunity Center.

Singer-songwriters Atkinson, Kincheloe and Cefalu performed throughout the event. To conclude the celebrations, a tour of the center was given, providing attendees with an inside look at its amenities including laundry facilities, a kitchen, a physician’s office and a childcare center.

The center’s 88 apartments are home to single residents and families, who are provided with housing at an affordable rent level that is determined based on their annual income.

Kenneth Pierre was a resident of the Opportunity Center for 10 years before being able to secure his own housing. He hopes to pay it forward and help others in the homeless community get the same support from the Opportunity Center that he has benefitted from.

“I help a lot of homeless people. Civilians and veterans, hes and shes, to get back on their feet,” Pierre said. “If there’s anything I can say to anybody out there that’s homeless … They need to come around here and get on the list to get in here.”

Pamela Law, property manager of the Opportunity Center, shares its value to the Palo Alto homeless community: “It changes people’s lives … The fact of being able to be housed and be safe so that you can start to think about what you want to do with your life … It’s amazing how much difference it makes.”