Opinion: Winter homeless shelter closing - Where will the Homeless Go?
The nomadic winter homeless shelter will be closing March 31. That is only six weeks from now. There are currently about 40 homeless men and women using the shelter on any given night, but over 80 people have used the winter shelter during this season. There is a core group that come almost every night but there are also a few new people showing up each week, some stay and others move on.
The shelter rotates to a different church each night of the week, being transported by bus or vans. It is run by a core group of dedicated volunteers with many hours needed to coordinate all of the logistics that are involved in running a homeless shelter.
The shelter provides a safe, warm, dry place for the homeless to spend the night; it is their home for the night. Relationships are formed between the shelter guests and the shelter volunteers. It is a wonderful, much-needed program.
The looming date of March 31 and the closing of the shelter for this season causes much consternation, for both the guests and the volunteers. Last spring Hangtown Haven, the homeless camp, was an option for many once the shelter closed. However, this year the camp no longer exists. The Placerville City Council made a decision to close the camp this past November. This March when the shelter closes there will be between 50 and 70 homeless people that will have no place to go. The shelter volunteers usually get asked by the homeless those last few weeks “Where should we go; what should we do now?” We do not have an acceptable answer for them. They have to go somewhere; the shelter will be closed and they have to have someplace to sleep at night.
Many will be forced to set up a camp, which is not legal in most places. As volunteers and concerned citizens we need to ask our county Board of Supervisors what it plans to do for these people.