Tents and belongings along the banks of the San Lorenzo River, a popular location for Santa Cruz’s homeless to find shelter. (Daniel Wu / Peninsula Press)

Coronavirus and winter make it harder to solve Santa Cruz’s homelessness problems

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One day in March, Jeffrey Jerozal got caught in a rainstorm. The sudden coronavirus lockdown put Santa Cruz’s businesses and residents on edge, and wherever Jerozal tried to take temporary shelter, he was met with hostility. A scuffle ensued, the police came, and the homeless man was taken to a hospital, wet and shivering. “It’s a damned state to get hypothermia in Santa Cruz,” he said. Experiences like Jerozal’s are common in a beach town that promotes its legacy of tolerance — “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” is the slogan on T-shirts — but hasn’t been able to solve a persistent problem with homelessness. As city officials, nonprofits and activists struggle…

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