Santa Cruz County

New safety measures implemented at Santa Cruz homeless services center

New security measures for Santa Cruz homeless center

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - New security measures are now in place at a Santa Cruz homeless shelter.  The move comes after concerns from the city, residents and business owners about the accountability of homeless individuals.

City officials say there needs to be more structure when it comes to those coming and going from the Homeless Services Center.

"Essentially the issue was there was not a clear entry point for the center and there was concern among residents in the area and also us from the city," said Keith Sterling, spokesman for the city of Santa Cruz.

And nearby business like the Central Home Supply just across the street say it's not just a concern - at times, it's downright dangerous.

"Break-ins, people sleeping on our property - we can't leave a single tool out at night , we've had people break our expensive truck windows to steal a $3 tarp," said Reed Santee, co-owner of the Central Home Supply.

But now through efforts between the city and the Homeless Services Center, new security fencing and a check-in system are being implemented.

"At times there were clients that were on campus off campus and staff at the center wasn't even clear who was there and who wasn't," said Sterling.

The safer structure is going to include two entry points with card readers - one by the drive in fence, and one along the sidewalk with a kiosk.  The cards that will be issued to those who use the center will be used for the purpose of checking in.  This allows staff at the center to know what services are being used and how many homeless people are there, making safer environment for staff and the centers clients.  But for Santee, it's a question of how effective this system will be.

"Is it offering all these services drawing more people in, or is it helping more people rehab and get back into society, I'm not really sure," said Santee.

Some of the center's volunteers say they expect the fencing and check-in system to be completed and functioning by next week.

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