Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – With temperatures forecast as plummeting into the 20s on multiple nights next week, and snow even predicted, Arcata House (AH) has gone into overdrive to shelter those with nowhere warm and dry to stay at night.
Starting Monday night, AH’s Extreme Weather Shelter (EWS), will be open for five nights, and possibly longer if the dangerous weather persists. “We’ll be fluid on that,” said Outreach Coordinator Dahl Simms, who oversees the EWS.
The EWS uses rooms in local churches to house up to 16 houseless individuals on especially cold or wet nights. Anticipating high demand during next week's big freeze, AH will open up its shuttered Night Shelter on Boyd Road to double its capacity.
EWS applicants are screened to ensure the safety of participants. Intakes begin at 3 p.m. at the Annex, 501 E St. (at the foot of Ninth Street, two blocks from the Plaza). Those accepted are fed a hot meal, offered showers, given fresh clothing and loaned bedding for the night.
The exceptional effort will take a huge bite out of Arcata House’s limited budget for the special shelters, consuming literally half of it. At $450 per night, AH can afford to put on only 10 of the shelters per winter.
Further, adding a second facility for five straight nights will push up labor expenses, as chaperones are paid a modest stipend to oversee participants. But AH will do what needs to be done, budget consequences notwithstanding.
“We didn’t even look at that,” Simms said. “We went into crisis mode.”
Arcata House maintains a special account for the Extreme Weather Shelter, to which anyone can donate. Cash helps offset costs for staff and related expenses, though food donations are always welcome.
Tax-deductible online donations may be made at arcatahouse.org. If you’d like your contribution to go to the Extreme Weather Shelter or any other Arcata House program, call after you make your donation and let them know at (707) 822-4528. Arcata House utilizes community volunteers, too.
Donations may also be mailed, with a note on the check comment line directing it to the desired program.
Send to Arcata House Partnership, 1005 11th St., Arcata, CA 95521. Still another way to donate to Arcata House is through the Humboldt Area Foundation at hafoundation.org.