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Grover Beach will open emergency temporary housing 

San Luis Obispo County greenlit an emergency pallet shelter program in the city of Grover Beach to temporarily house its growing homeless population.

The proposal led by the 5Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC) would put 20 cabins (also known as pallet shelters) on a lot at 286 16th St. Miriam Shah, a 5CHC board member and former Grover Beach City Council member, listed off statistics at the Sept. 28 SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting that she said underscored the need for the South County shelter.

click to enlarge A SOUTH COUNTY SOLUTION The emergency shelter in Grover Beach is a temporary relief for SLO County's homeless because the main goal is finding permanent housing for them. - SCREENSHOT TAKEN FROM 5 CITIES HOMELESS COALITION'S EMERGENCY SHELTER REPORT
  • Screenshot Taken From 5 Cities Homeless Coalition's Emergency Shelter Report
  • A SOUTH COUNTY SOLUTION The emergency shelter in Grover Beach is a temporary relief for SLO County's homeless because the main goal is finding permanent housing for them.

SLO County ranks third in the nation for people living outdoors in suburban areas, Shah said, adding that since 2016, unsheltered homelessness has grown by 22 percent because of scarce housing aggravated by rising rent, limited wages, and COVID-19.

"This project is not going to immediately end homelessness in San Luis Obispo County. But it's a much-needed resource for [5CHC], for the county, for the city of Grover Beach," Shah said. "The bottom line is if we do what we've always done, we'll get what we've always got, and it's just not enough."

The Grover Beach housing program will operate on a referral-only basis, according to 5CHC. It will house people independently as opposed to in a dormitory-style quarters. Carolyn Berg, a housing and infrastructure analyst with the County Administrative Office, said that it's meant to prevent overcrowding and COVID-19 outbreaks.

"It also incorporates both a compassionate service to the unsheltered residents as well as structured guidance through the 90-day case management program that help lift people out of homelessness and into supportive services and hopefully permanent housing as well," she said.

Berg said that supervisors approved a little more than $1.1 million in federal funds for the emergency shelter in March, contingent on finding suitable space. The proposed site, which the Board of Supervisors approved on Sept. 28, is right beside the Superior Court and the Drug and Alcohol Services and Public Health Clinic buildings.

The emergency shelter approval came hot on the heels of starting a Safe Parking Site on Kansas Avenue that left many homeless residents worried about the availability of resources.

Dena Clark, a homeless person from Los Osos, told supervisors at the Sep. 28 meeting that the Kansas Avenue lot was inhumane.

"I believe that the Safe Parking on Kansas was a little bit discriminative because nobody with a tent can go there, only motor homes or vehicles. That breaks up our community because we do help each other," Clark said. "I think that is just putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Putting a chain-link fence around a field and having a security guard is not housing. It's inhumane, there's no services, there's no electricity, running water. Two Porta Potties and two showers for all them cars is no way enough."

Other residents of Los Osos, like Becky McFarland, also think the Kansas Avenue site was "hastily done," and more well thought-out safe shelters are needed. Officials hope the Grover Beach site will be functional next year. Δ


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