Update: Body found in Opportunity Center

Firefighters fill two containers with water outside the Opportunity Center this afternoon. Post photo by Braden Cartwright.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Update, Jan. 14, 8 a.m. — A man who was exposed to chemicals died yesterday (Jan. 13) on the fifth floor of the Opportunity Center, prompting a large hazmat response to the Palo Alto apartment complex for the homeless and poor, police said.

Investigators were unable to determine if the death was the result of a suicide, an accident or a medical emergency. There was no evidence of a crime, police Capt. James Reifschneider said. He wouldn’t say what chemicals were found.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fog and an odor coming from one of the apartments at 33 Encina Ave at 12:30 p.m. Ten trucks from Mountain View and Palo Alto came to the scene.

After two hours of planning, a pair of firefighters entered the room in hazmat suits.

Their gas monitors detected no hazards in the air, fire Battalion Chief Shane Yarbrough said. They opened the windows, decontaminated their suits and handed the investigation off to police, Yarbrough said.

The shower was left on in the apartment, Yarbrough said.

The Opportunity Center is five-story, 88-unit apartment complex run by LifeMoves to house homeless and very poor residents. The first floor has a service center and a medical clinic.

Jan. 13, 2:41 p.m. — A chemical smell coming from the fifth floor of the Opportunity Center, a Palo Alto apartment complex for the homeless and poor, has drawn a significant response from firefighters who are trying to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The odor was reported at 12:30 p.m. today (Jan. 11). At 2 p.m., fire Battalion Chief Shane Yarbrough was still planning how to respond as several trucks from Mountain View and Palo Alto waited outside and residents looked on.

Firefighters filled two portable containers with water on the street in front of 33 Encina Ave.

The Opportunity Center is an 88-unit apartment complex that houses homeless and very poor residents. The first and second floors have two nonprofit service centers and a medical clinic.


  1. It will be interesting to know how this person died. Hope there isn’t going to be a coverup. Can’t let the taxpayers know how their money is being ripped off by people who don’t want to work yet feel entitled to free food, free shelter, free healthcare, etc.

  2. Veronica’s comment is pretty harsh. Yes, I’m sure there are homeless people who are freeloaders, but many others find themselves in poverty due to no fault of their own. Please don’t paint with a wide brush like that.

    • These people were pushed to the streets by corporate greed and Donald Trump. They’re victims of society. A clean place to live is the least we can give them. Don’t blame the victims, fix the root causes.

  3. Re: Veronica … glad somebody had the guts to say that … time for able-bodied people to find jobs and become productive members of society.

  4. Veronica, Brooke, I volunteer at the center. Many of the people do have jobs, but the jobs don’t pay enough for a place to live. Others are disabled. Quite a few are veterans.

  5. Veronica and Brooke, I volunteer at the Opportunity Center and have served people experiencing homelessness for over 20 years. You are making some very broad assumptions about people you don’t know anything about. It is worth getting to know some of these folks and listening to their stories. It’s humbling to realize it could have been any of us in that situation had things played out differently.

  6. Trump made these people love drugs, and to devote their lives to getting high? Wow! I had no idea as to his pursuasive powers.

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