SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 5/31/17 4:30 p.m.: After a month or two on the street, Leiani Dixon was already familiar with the routine.
“When you wake up, you go get your breakfast, get your showers in. (Then) it's lunch time, and after lunch time, you go and you mingle with everybody, and then it's almost dinner time," Dixon said.
But the uncertainty, night after night, has been where to sleep, especially after the only women's shelter in Salinas closed down in April and the warming shelter now gone.
"We are done,” Dixon said. “I didn't know what to do. There's nowhere to go."
For the first time in a month, Dixon had a roof over her head. Tuesday night, she slept at the new shelter in Salinas' Chinatown.
"It just feels good not to worry about the police, you know, trying to cause any problems because we are out here on the streets,” Dixon said. “It's just a big difference."
With local donations, the Homeless Union was able to rent what used to be office space on Soledad Street to help those in need.
"The main priority is the women, and families and couples and even people with pets," Union President Wes White said.
With more people staying in the area, organizations nearby said they are ready to help.
"We are doing it anyways, and we welcome the challenge. You know, we are here to help. That's why we are here," said Javier Rodriguez with Dorothy’s Place.
Dixon said she appreciates the support while she works to get back on her feet.
"I think first and foremost is to stay sober. Once we are past that, we are OK," Dixon said.
The Homeless Union is working with the city to get a permit for the space. In the meantime, it will be open from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
It can host about 40 people
The shelter still needs money to put in beds and other supplies. Those who wish to donate can contact White at 510-274-9275.
PREVIOUS STORY: Tuesday the winter warming shelter closed its doors in Salinas.
Now the Salinas Homeless Union president, Wes White, will conduct the opening of the Union Headquarters and Overnight Shelter at 20 Soledad St. Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The 20 Soledad facility will serve as the Union offices, educational facilities, community center and as an overnight shelter for 50 displaced people.
“We have received support from several committed Salinas community leaders,” says White. “Just because the weather is warming up does not mean that our Union members should be exiled to the streets. People need a legal place to sleep at night, every night.”
The Homeless Union was organized to help those living within encampments throughout the city.
“We are not just about the visible homeless,” says White. “We are about all poor people who are only a step away because they can’t make the rent or they’ve lost their jobs. We are about the 2,000 plus homeless Salinas school children, the disabled and the families doubling and tripling up in substandard housing. We ask you all to join us Tuesday night.”
The public is encouraged to come to the shelter's grand opening.
Donations will be accepted: clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, cots, toiletries, books, food and other necessities.
For more information call: 510-274-9275.