2015-12-24 / Health & Wellness

City supports Oxnard winter warming shelter

Will provide transportation to and from facility
By Stephanie Sumell

FINDING COMFORT— The homeless count conducted earlier this year identified 1,417 homeless people living within the county— about 35 of whom stay in the city of Camarillo. Those numbers, however, account only for the homeless who were located during the census.

FINDING COMFORT— The homeless count conducted earlier this year identified 1,417 homeless people living within the county— about 35 of whom stay in the city of Camarillo. Those numbers, however, account only for the homeless who were located during the census.

The city of Camarillo will spend nearly $25,000 this year to ensure homeless individuals and families have access to a warm and dry place to stay during what may be the wettest and coldest winter in years.

The city has experienced chilly temps this past week with lows in the 30s and 40s.

The Camarillo City Council voted to contribute $10,000 to operate a temporary winter warming shelter—its typical yearly contribution—and spend an additional $14,170 to provide transportation to and from the shelter using the city transit service.

Its decision on Dec. 9 will enable more homeless people to stay at the shelter, which provides nightly accommodations and meals during the colder months.

They would be picked up in the evening at Constitution Park in Camarillo, driven to the shelter at the Oxnard National Guard Armory, and returned to Constitution Park the following morning.

“I’m hoping that with the bus, we’ll have quite a few more people participating, because it is cold,” said Councilmember Charlotte Craven. “I can certainly support this and I thank staff for coming up with the idea.”

The cities of Oxnard and Ventura, with the help of other cities, agencies and nonprofit organizations, have alternated hosting the shelter at their respective National Guard Armories each year for more than a decade.

The shelters were operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul until this year, when the Ventura Downtown Association took the helm. The temporary shelter in Oxnard opened at the beginning of the month. It will remain open until March 31.

The downtown association hired Steven Karnazes, the owner of a local security business, to run the shelter. Workers who were formerly homeless are trained by the Ventura County Rescue Mission in Oxnard to help him with the day-to-day operations.

Camarillo city staff said the shelter, which will require an estimated $320,000 to operate, will meet an important need within the community.

Although the homeless count conducted earlier this year identified 1,417 homeless people living within the county—about 35 of whom stay in the city of Camarillo—those numbers only account for those who are easily spotted on the street.

Members of the Camarillo Police Department say they believe there are closer to 140 homeless people living in the city, some of whom are staying in cars, at hotels or on couches.

According to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 14 people from Camarillo stayed at the shelter on a regular basis last year, but that number might have been higher if more people had access to the shelter.

Based on conversations with volunteers and police, staff said, most of those people drove themselves to the shelter each night.

They said it is likely that more people would use the shelter if they had a way to get there.

“I can support it too,” Councilmember Kevin Kildee said of the shelter. “I think it’s definitely something that is needed.”

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