Thursday, May 21, 2009

What needs to happen on July 1

The clock is ticking.

Unless something changes, 346 people will be dumped out onto the street on the morning of July 1.

Things may, already, not be as bad as that sounds. Many are likely to get placement in temporary housing. That was the promise of the city for the Tent City evacuees which number, perhaps, fifty. Plus there is stimulus money out there. It's not targetted for the established-homeless, but some funds may come our way, if only as a result of other funds being "released" as a result of usages the stimulus money is directed toward.

In more-normal times, Overflow [aka, Winter] shelter would already have closed. This year it's set to close after the last day in June. Since the weather is already warm and many have tents and sleeping bags, we can expect that closure of Overflow will result in what happens every year: people find a place for themselves on the streets or along the river.

What's unusual this year is that people now in VOA's A Street and Bannon Street shelters will need to leave and find a place to 'sleep and be' elsewhere. Typically in the transition from winter to spring, the population at these two VOA shelters drops from an aggregate 142 to 122.

What we, the Sac'to Homeless, will be losing in shelter space, then, is 122 bed slots. As I've proposed to a VOA executive by email, what ought to happen is that one of the two shelters ought to stay open, operating as a basic, no-frills men's shelter [with the Salvation Army upping the proportion of women they house]. One of the VOA shelters should adequately house all the guys that had been housed at the two shelters before July 1. The shelter ought to operate from 8:30pm to 6:30am -- just eleven hours each night. It should provide a basic dinner meal; a bunk bed to sleep on; a shower; and a muffin and coffee in the morning. Maybe funding can be found for that. Hey, Oprah, are you listening?

Meantime, I am hopeful that the police will enact a "no rousting of the homeless" policy; efforts will quickly go forward to create a Tent City, if only a legal mini-sized one; and Val Jon Farris will find funding and lots of support for his SERV proposal.

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