Word on the street was that a new Santa Cruz storage locker for the homeless was on track to open earlier this month, as mentioned in GT.
We were surprised to learn that opening day—which was originally scheduled for Friday, Dec. 1, according to homeless advocate Brent Adams—never came.
City analyst Susie O’Hara, who’s been working on the program, told us she didn’t even know when a new facility might open, although the Sentinel has since reported that the city’s aiming to move its homeless encampment to 1220 River St. in the Harvey West neighborhood by mid-January, with storage on-site for the campers.
Storage was considered one of the simplest goals within the 20-solution homeless strategic plan approved by the Santa Cruz City Council this past May.
For now, the current encampment at San Lorenzo Park is still something resembling home. But Chief, a 63-year-old homeless man from Moss Landing, says it’s difficult keeping track of all of his personal belongings all of the time—although local services do their best to help out. “It’s still hard biking everything to new destinations every day,” he says.
City staffers were working out the details last month, and contacted the nonprofit Warming Center Program to help facilitate. Adams, the Warming Center’s co-founder, says staffers contacted him for a Dec. 1 launch, slated for after a clean-up of the controversial current encampment at San Lorenzo Park.
Adams says that the camp cleanup ended up going through Monday, Dec. 4, with volunteers like himself pitching in—and then they heard the city had decided to hold off on the next steps.
Adams finds it unfortunate that even though he spent several days cleaning the park with Warming Center volunteers, the nonprofit didn’t hear from the city about the new approach until pretty late in the game. The center had even interviewed candidates and chosen one to run the storage facility, he says.
Adams, who’s toured encampments from San Diego to Seattle, has advocated for more of a sanctuary-type camp that provides a supportive and tightly knit community. He worries that the new emergency-type shelter in Harvey West doesn’t jibe with the recent homelessness recommendations, and that it won’t offer the needed support to help campers transition into more permanent housing. He’s holding out hope that the city commits to a storage setup that’s open to everyone experiencing homelessness—more along the lines of what the City Council approved in its recommendations this past spring.