Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shelter beds for homeless this winter in a state of confusion

It seemed like things were splendid, with a bounty of beds [as compared to prior years] secured for the chilly season for homeless people to sleep in, but now, in the words of Libby Fernandez, "It seems to be falling apart."

An article in the Bee on Veterans' Day "Hotel chain quits talks on winter housing for Sacramento homeless," reports that room for 100 homeless people at Extended Stay America were not secured, as expected, and the Mayor's Winter Shelter Task Force is now, quickly, moving to "Plan B," seeking space at other hotels.

Beliefs and rumours in Homeless World Sacramento run the gamut.

In rules and information told to people attending the Union Gospel Mission sermon the last two nights, the congregation has been told that Winter Shelter at Cal Expo will be openning on December 15.

A "core homeless leader," in line for a lunch ticket with me in Friendship Park, told me that Cal Expo might be used for families and woman, with solo men being sheltered at the detox center.  This was all to begin on November 15.  Later, a friend hearing this information, said that can't be quite right -- November 15 is a Sunday.  They would not be opening shelters on Sunday, for many reasons, including the desire for adequate news coverage.

Everything seems to be in the air, and we are already well into the month of November, when things should have been nailed down, such that shelters could open quickly in advance of any mighty storm abrewing.
A quick review:

On October 23, the mayor held a press conference at City Hall to announce that his task force had come up with funds and venues to house a mighty 269 in shelter for the 4 1/2 month chilly season.

Kathleen Haley, a professional reporter with the The Sacramento Press, reported on Oct 26 that stimulus funds would provide Rapid Re-housing for 151 homeless people which would reduce the strain during the winter to shelter homeless people.  By Heely's computations, that brought the number of chilly-season-relief beds to 419.

But then on Oct. 30, the Bee reported on the problem with 105 beds for homeless families at Mather.  Rancho Cordova officials out there in the east end of the county said the cottages slated for use by the task force were "uninhabitable" due to mold and vandalism.

On Nov 2, the mayor announced that core safe ground leaders, numbering approximately 22, were being given hotel/motel rooms for the winter months, beginning on Nov 15 through Mar 31.  It is believed in Homeless World that these safe ground people got their rooms immediately following the news conference. [UPDATE:  the safe ground people got rooms at the rather luxurious Hawthorn Suites hotel.]

And now we hear that 100 beds have been lost because a contract with Extended Stay America wasn't signed and the hotel has backed out of any proposed deal.  Plan B, replacing the beds with others at other hotels, is in the works with 15 secured so far.
So, where are we?  205 beds (!!) from the 269 announced on Oct 23 are lost, or in dire jeopardy.  If some of the Mather cottages are to be used, they won't be available any time soon. Twenty-two beds at a hotel/motel are now being used, or soon will be used by the 22 unworthy safe ground core group for winter. And storms are coming on November 17 [40% chance of rain] and on November 20 [60% chance of rain].

Things are in disarray.  The winds of chaos are swirling.  NOW is the winter of our discontent.
Update:  A litte after this blogpost went up, an announcement was made in Friendship Park that the former-detox center opened as a winter shelter for solo men, according to information I received 'on the street.'  More information on that shelter will be forthcoming in a blogpost, coming in a few days.

Update #2:  A news item at KCRA tells us this:  "[A shelter] opened Tuesday [11/10], which was once used to treat substance abusers, has been transformed into a dormitory with 32 beds."

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