SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 9/8/2017 6 p.m.:
The city of Salinas has sent a letter to Monterey County leaders explaining why it will not support a winter warming shelter at 312 North Main Street.
In the letter dated September 7, it reads the proposed shelter will not have any support services and will not meet the needs of unhoused residents. They are also concerned about the location being near a busy and potentially dangerous roadway, as well as the costs for the needed improvements to the building.
The city wants to realign its services to emphasize street outreach, housing navigation and rapid rehousing. The letter also affirms its support to a permanent shelter, which would be located at 1220 Natividad Road.
The letter read any temporary emergency shelter services must be tied to establishing a permanent shelter.
"The City proposes working with the County on a scattered-site approach, funding homeless service providers and local faith based organizations to shelter additional unhoused residents during the approaching winter months. The City is also exploring our own facilities to determine if we can shelter additional families or women. The City plans on using our additional ESG (Emergency Solutions Grants) funding to house at least 20 individuals dependent on shelter services over the next six months and deepen the capacity of service providers through street outreach, case management, and housing housing navigation services."
On Tuesday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will take up the winter warming shelter discussion. According to the agenda, it will discuss a two-year lease of 321 North Main Street and a contract with the provider, Community Homeless Solutions.
The fate of a winter warming shelter in Salinas is unknown. While Monterey County is ready is move ahead, the city of Salinas says otherwise.
Last week, the Salinas City Council unanimously voted to send a letter to Monterey County leaders, saying while they support a permanent shelter, they won’t support a temporary one at 321 North Main Street.
The building has major issues that could cost a lot to fix and it would only be used for a year or two. City leaders say that kind of spending goes against best practices and doesn’t solve the problem of homelessness.
“We're talking about a proposal where the county would have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and pay rent for a temporary solution that business owners, property owners and the surrounding community do not want," Council member Steve McShane said.
He said there could be another option for a temporary shelter. 1220 Natividad Road is where the county wants to put a permanent shelter. McShane believes it could be used as a temporary site as well, if temporary structures and modular units were installed.
“That could serve a hundred, 200 different people with real low investment,” McShane said. “The site is available now. It's got water, it's got power and I think within a couple of months, a temporary structure could be put up, it could serve us for two years while a permanent facility is put in place."
In the meantime, the county plans to move forward with the shelter on North Main.
"The county board of supervisors remains committed to finding a permanent shelter solution and while that permanent shelter solution is developed, to identify an interim shelter solution for the short term," said Elliott Robinson, director of the Department of Social Services.
Supervisor Luis Alejo said the Board of Supervisors is expected to talk about approving a contractor to run the shelter and the lease at its next meeting.
"I think we've done so much work and we looked at all the possible sites in Salinas, that now we know these are the most viable, the most affordable places that we could afford to get up and running come November."