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News

Nov. 9, 2017 • Volume XXVIII Issue 45 North Coast Journal Inc. www.northcoastjournal.com ISSN 1099-7571 © Copyright 2017

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A homeless camp in the PalCo Marsh in 2015. Photo by Linda Stansberry

The Impossible Possible California fires and winter cold prompt action on 24-7 homeless shelter By Linda Stansberry linda@northcoastjournal.com

W

ith roughly three weeks on the clock, members of the Humboldt Homeless and Housing Coalition are fighting time, weather and the specter of past failures to accomplish an utterly reachable but seemingly audacious goal: A six-month, 24-hour homeless shelter that will shield people from the rain and cold, beginning Dec. 1. Sally Hewitt, senior program manager for the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services and co-chair of the HHHC, thinks it can be done. “It’s an ambitious goal,” she told the Journal in a phone interview. “I think we can do it if everyone throws in what they can.” In her email to coalition members announcing the Nov. 2 planning meeting, Hewitt asked them to bring information about possible locations, staffing, services and supplies. With a tight two-hour allotment for the meeting and a meager budget ($60,000 left over from a public health project), it would take discipline to steer the project

6 NORTH COAST JOURNAL • Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 • northcoastjournal.com

away from some of the common pitfalls that have kneecapped previous efforts. Representatives from a spectrum of organizations, including the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, Partnership HealthPlan, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, St. Joseph Hospital, Arcata House Partnership and Veteran’s Services attended the meeting, along with several community members from Southern Humboldt. After introductions, coalition members delivered an update on the current extreme weather shelters, which open at night during severe cold or rainstorms. Mike Newman, a member of the HHHC executive committee, said the Eureka Rescue Mission will start accepting dogs this winter as long as there are enough crates. Hewitt announced that the Southern Humboldt extreme weather shelter committee would receive a small stipend from DHHS to spend on renting churches or other venues, an attempt to sweeten the pot for potential hosts. Lack of facilities in Southern Humboldt has been an ongoing problem since the closure of the Veteran’s Hall and a fire that burned down

the Community Presbyterian Church (See “Away From the Rain,” Oct. 26). In her interview with the Journal, Hewitt explained she and the rest of the coalition are particularly concerned about an influx of refugees needing shelter this winter due to the recent fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, which destroyed nearly 9,000 structures and displaced many people. The fire also swept through an area where there was a large homeless encampment, Hewitt said. “They’re not going to go south,” she said. “Rents down there have already gone up 36 percent. There’s just not enough housing here to absorb those folks.” Last year it looked as though the coalition might partner with the Salvation Army to run a 14-hour-a-day shelter but, as Roger McCormick of the Salvation Army explained during the meeting, the Eureka corps’ contract with Silvercrest Senior Residences, where its headquarters are located, prohibits the location from being used as a shelter. The corps may still Continued on page 8 »

North Coast Journal 11-09-17 Edition  
North Coast Journal 11-09-17 Edition  
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