County expanding services for homeless in partnership


SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — Santa Cruz County and the Homeless Action Partnership (HAP) of Santa Cruz County are teaming up to reduce homelessness.

Among the plan are year-round shelter, and “housing navigation services” to help people find places to live.

Under the plan, shelter services at the Salvation Army Community Corps Center on Laurel Street would remain open year-round, and the shelter at 1220 River Street would be extended through March 15, 2020.

In addition, HAP approved funding to provide mobile hygiene and housing navigation services to help move homeless persons out of shelters and into permanent housing.

“Ending homelessness demands a Housing First approach,” said Santa Cruz County Homeless Services Coordinator Rayne Marr. “Expanding shelter and day services will help stabilize vulnerable homeless persons, and the need for housing resolution services is so great that the HAP is moving forward with a plan to provide them while we continue searching for an appropriate venue to establish a permanent Navigation Center.”

The combined sites would extend availability of 50 beds and 60 tent sites, with both venues previously set to close June 30. Both are operated by the Salvation Army, and include beds, meals, security, transportation, and access to health services.

The Salvation Army also operates the seasonal Winter Shelter Program in Live Oak, as well as the Salvation Army Day Center and 38-bed shelter in Watsonville, which will now operate 24/7 with expanded service capacity.

“The Salvation Army works to assure that all Santa Cruz County residents have a place to access food and lodging, and we are pleased to extend our partnership with the HAP,” Salvation Army Capt. Harold Laubach said. “The Salvation Army has been serving the local community for more than 130 years and we greatly appreciate the support of our volunteers, donors and especially our clients.”

The Homeless Action Partnership plan includes funding that assures the continued availability of the Paul Lee Loft emergency shelter at the Homeless Services Center, which provides beds for up to 40 adults along with hygiene, client assessment, advocacy and other services.

The Housing First model is a recognition that substance use disorder and mental health treatment are most effective when clients first have stable housing, which increases the likelihood that clients remain housed. The model has been endorsed by numerous federal, state and local agencies.

HAP expects to begin providing the services by Aug. 1.

A City of Santa Cruz Water Department project expected to commence in July at the 1220 River Street property is being delayed due to construction schedule changes, allowing the temporary encampment to extend operations under the standard operating procedures previously adopted by the Santa Cruz City Council.

Funding for the plan is being provided through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program. Through its members, the Homeless Action Partnership continues working to identify additional appropriate sites for future navigation and shelter services. No sites have been identified at this time.

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