Humboldt Housing & Homelessness Coalition (HHHC) members, made up of staff and volunteers from nearly a dozen local service providers, faith-based organizations and government agencies, are planning for emergency weather warming centers for people experiencing homelessness, and volunteers are needed.
The group, which is calling itself the Emergency Weather Community Response Network, meets weekly, is working together to coordinate locations for the upcoming wet and cold days and nights. Currently, the county is being split into regions including McKinleyville/Arcata, Eureka, Eel River/Fortuna, Southern and Eastern Humboldt.
Living outside during prolonged cold and rain can make people more susceptible to chronic illness and in some cases hypothermia, and having a warm, dry place to be is important.
Arcata House Partnership (AHP) Anjali Browning, who serves as the Director of Programs and Services, said extreme weather sheltering is “very staff intensive.”
“We were able to provide 24-hour emergency shelter on 48 nights of life-threatening weather last year,” she said. “Despite the enormous strain of operating on almost twice the number of nights as a normal year, AHP continued providing emergency shelter services to confront the longest stretch of freezing temperatures Humboldt had experienced in decades.”
For every one hour of safety provided, at least four hours of support is needed to operate. Help is needed for:
- Staffing facilities
- Providing showers
- Preparing and serving meals
- Transporting guests
- Cleaning cots
- Mopping floors
- Laundering towels and bedding.
Browning said, having sufficient volunteers will be the most crucial factor in determining if AHP can run when the criteria for extreme weather sheltering are met. She said they were only able to operate so many nights last year because of generous donations from the community, dedicated staff and thousands of hours of volunteer support.
Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services Program Manager Aaron Zell, who facilitates the HHHC, said, “This collaborative effort ensures clear communication throughout the county as well as the ability for smaller organizations to get assistance with training and resources so they can help in providing these needed services. The cooperation between the various organizations allows for improved response to these weather events.”
To sign up to volunteer, fill out the Emergency Weather Community Response Network Survey (surveymonkey.com).
For emergency weather updates, visit humboldtgov.org/WeatherResources.
To learn more about the HHHC, visit humboldtgov.org/HHHC.
DHHS delivered emergency weather warming center supplies to Redway Baptist Church in mid-November, where sheltering services to residents experiencing homelessness have been led. In coming weeks, Redway Baptist will likely be opening its doors to those facing colder temperatures. Among the goods supplied were shelf-stable food, blankets and animal necessities. From left, DHHS Program Manager Aaron Zell hands off canned goods to Redway Baptist Pastor Chris Andrews.
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