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Overflow overflows

Despite a million bucks having been thrown at the issue, people are now finding that shelter is unavailable.

Overflow shelter, a place meant to keep homeless people from being forced to disobey city and county law, has now overflowed. Yes, Overflow, also known as Winter shelter, though we are well past winter, has spilled above its brim. Overflow has overflowed.

Last night, with its beds taken, and its couches all claimed as sleeping spaces, Overflow management decided to leave people [Update 5/1/09: the people consisted of "three or four men," I'm now told.] in front of Union Gospel Mission with the expectation or hope that the unaccommodated men would be able to claim beds in the mission's shelter that holds 60.

But all or some of the men, abandoned to their own devises, were not able to secure beds.

This morning, a van from VOA, the administrator of Overflow, pulled up in front of the mission to pick up one displaced man, Vincent, who slept on the sidewalk in front of the mission.

On March 30, VOA Vice President Christie J. Holderegger received a 7-part list of suggestions to make Overflow more accommodating, physically and mentally, for the benefit of the sheltered. This was just one of the suggestions:
We homeless men are aware that sometimes Overflow is full when the mission has empty beds, and vise versa. To better the distribution of beds, it ought to be possible for the Overflow staff and mission to communicate to assure that men needing a bed, when there are open beds, get matched up.

If the Union Gospel Mission is "oversubscribed" for an evening, perhaps it would be possible for men for whom there isn't a bed to be driven to Overflow. The mission staff knows whom it cannot accommodate at ~9:20pm each evening. Is there some way a mission staffer could call an Overflow staffer to place men there if Overflow has open bunks. And then mightn't a mission staff guy drive men needing a place to stay to Overflow?
Apparently, Overflow staff didn't communicate with Union Gospel Mission staff in hopes of benefitting needy homeless men, last night.

VOA needs to do better. And with all the money they are getting from the city and county, we and our city and county officials should demand better.


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