As we move into the Thanksgiving season, we want to express our gratitude to all who donated to “Help Open up the Arcata Night Shelter” campaign on GoFundMe or who put a check in the little envelope and sent it back to us.
After extensive evaluation of our programs, the Arcata House Partnership Board and staff made the decision to re-open the facility on Boyd Road using a model that is similar to the family shelters that we have been running in Arcata since 1991.
The facility recently re-opened as the Adult Shelter with a new and refocused direction.
Since it opened in 2001, the Night Shelter offered “one night of shelter and a hot meal” to about 20 people each night.
Clients were driven out to the shelter on Boyd Road and returned to downtown Arcata in the morning. Client “stays” ranged from one night to over a year. Clients were encouraged to meet with a case manager, but this was not required.
Since our loss of funding last spring, we have limited resources. One of the major expenses in running the day-to-day emergency shelter was the high cost of fuel to transport clients from the Annex in downtown Arcata out to the shelter every day.
Four vanloads of people back and forth cost us about $900 a month. We also had large utility bills, think 20 loads of sheets and bedding a week and lots of hot water for showers.
Most importantly, however, we were not sure that the “one night” model was the best way to help clients move out of homelessness into permanent housing.
Eight to 12 clients will now live at the shelter for three to nine months. They will save money for permanent housing in a trust account and participate in a program that is dedicated to helping each person make the necessary steps to get housed.
As in our family shelter, clients will meet weekly with a case manager and set goals intended to help them secure housing. They will also learn basic life skills and connect with local health and human services agencies.
The shelter looks great! Last summer we were gifted with an “extreme makeover” by Arcata Rotary Sunrise. The shelter was spruced up with a bright blue paint job, a fantastic gas heater (for even heat throughout the whole shelter) and lockers for the clients to store their belongings in.
We wanted to start slowly so we moved eight clients in during the summer. The new program is working! Out of the first eight clients, six have found permanent housing, primarily at the new Arcata Bay Crossing.
We have a new shelter case manager who is also working several days a week doing intake and assessment at the Annex (our building near the Arcata Ball Park). She screens adults who are interested in participating in the shelter program and provides them with support once they are enrolled.
She also helps clients who are referred by our CalFresh Outreach program, or just walk in and make an appointment with her, to apply for benefits, find jobs, get ID or other documents, or re-connect with distant family members. She works with our partner agencies to ensure that clients have the opportunity to connect with local community based services.
We appreciate the confidence that the community showed in our ability to recover and move on and provide our most vulnerable residents with the support they need to overcome homelessness.
If you have questions about the Adult Shelter or any of our programs — or suggestions to improve them, feel free to give me a call at (707) 822-4528.
Fox Olson is grateful for the community she lives in, and its generosity.