MONTEREY, Calif. - The Monterey Post Office is locking up — a change brought about because of issues involving the homeless.
After an elderly woman complained about feeling threatened by a homeless person, Postmaster Sandi Maria decided it was time to cut off the 24-hour access, beginning Aug. 14.
“I felt like it was time ,with all the constant problems we were having with the homeless, and needles. It's just not, it's not safe,” Maria said. “We've had nothing but problems. They were defecating in our lobbies. We were having to clean those up. It becomes an issue for my custodians and their safety and our employees as well."
Maria said post offices across the country are slashing their hours to keep out the homeless.
With the new schedule, the P.O. Box area will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the hours will be between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Some residents said they are fine with the change.
“Because if I don't get it one day, I will get the next,” Darwin Wandersee said.
“I think that the post office must do what they need to do and that the residents that have a P.O. box must change their hours,” Yvette Mills-Jensen said.
But what's harder to solve is the problem of homelessness in Monterey. This year, the number of homeless people in Monterey County hit its highest point in more than a decade, while the number of homeless in the city remained
“We should start working towards finding shelters for them. Like they talked about the old Fort Ord military housing. It's just sitting out there rotting away,” Wandersee said.
To make it easier for those who want to help and comply with state law, Monterey City Council passed an ordinance in June to simplify the permitting process for nonprofits interested in opening emergency shelters in the city.
“I know that there are definitely not enough resources in our area, in our state, in our country to meet all the needs of people with homelessness. But I also know now more than ever, we have organizations and individuals, churches and faith-based groups who are really reaching out to work together to help,” Monterey Community Services Director Kim Bui-Burton said.