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Atascadero denies warming shelter at Armory 

On Nov. 27, the Atascadero City Council declined a nonprofit's request to utilize city property as a temporary warming shelter for homeless individuals during the winter months.

The proposal came after the Atascadero Warming Center's current hosting site, St. Williams Church, notified the group that it would not be able to accommodate the shelter after Jan. 21, 2019. The Atascadero Warming Center, a group made of volunteers, merged with Transitional Food and Shelter to provide services for medically fragile homeless and the warming center last year.

Transitional Food and Shelter proposed entering into an agreement with the city to jointly provide an overnight warming center at the Atascadero National Guard Armory Jan. 22, through April 15, 2019.

At the Nov. 27 meeting, community members expressed concerns about the location as it is adjacent to the Atascadero Printery, Colony Park, Youth Center, and is across the street from the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy.

Resident Madalyn McDaniel sent the city a letter stating that she believes the proposed location is too close to young students.

"It is inconceivable that anyone would consider exposing children to a multitude of unknown adults without any restrictions or consideration to the adults' drug additions, criminal history, or anger management issues," it read.

In Transitional Food and Shelter's proposal, the city would have been responsible for all the costs of providing shelter in the state armory, including minor repair work, utilities, building maintenance, administrative costs, the cost for national guardsman (required for the security of military equipment), a security guard, janitorial service, and transportation for homeless individuals.

The council unanimously denied the proposal on account of a short timeline, the location, not enough information, and a lack of funding.

The nonprofit provided a no-barrier warming shelter—no requirements are necessary to stay at the shelter—last year. The center was an option for people experiencing homelessness who did not qualify to stay at the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO).

According to the staff report, ECHO requires its clients to meet criteria such as sobriety, non-violence, working to break the cycle of homelessness, and being employed or the willingness to work toward employment.

The warming center was open for 101 nights during the winter of 2017-18, according to the staff report. Δ

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