Homeless find shelter in Hollister

Council receptive to seeking funds for support

San Benito County opened its first-ever year-round emergency homeless shelter two years ago, and a new report shows it has been a big success.

More than 70 unsheltered people found permanent housing and more than 50 found jobs since the H.O.M.E. (Housing, Opportunities, Meals, Empowerment) Resource Center opened on San Felipe Road Dec. 1, 2017, according to Enrique Arreola, deputy director of the county Health and Human Services Department.

In a recent report to the Hollister City Council, Arreola said the new center, funded by city, state and federal funds, served 112 men and women in 2019, with an average of 44 individuals staying each night.

The city allocated $130,000 for the shelter the first year, but provided no funds in 2019, Arreola said. He asked the council to apply for $500,000 in federal grants to help provide three years of funding support.

He got a positive response from council members.

“I would love for this to be an action item in the near future,” said Councilmember Carol Lenoir at a Nov. 18 council meeting. “It certainly is our problem, and it’s the council’s and everybody’s responsibility to address this.

“We’ve got to be compassionate. I want to see them get help. I do support this.”

Vice Mayor Marty Richman complimented the success of the center in meeting emergency housing needs of the city and county. 

“We’ve made a hell of a lot of progress,” he said. “I’m going to support continuing to help.”

He added: “I would like to see the county contributing from their general fund.”

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors allocated $187,000 in state funds to open the center two years ago, but hasn’t provided money from its general fund.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Richman of Arreola’s request. “I believe this benefits the whole population and not just the homeless population, and I’m going to be supportive of it.”

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said he was pleased “we helped make this work.”

“It’s important for the city and county to sit down and make a commitment,” he told Arreola.

The HOME Resource Center is the first-ever year-round emergency homeless shelter in San Benito County, operated by Community Homeless Solutions.

The center has a maximum of 50 beds—28 for men and 22 for women—in separate sleeping areas.

Bus transportation to and from the shelter is available each day. The first pick up is at 4:30pm at Straw Hat Pizza, 191 San Felipe Road; 4:45pm, West and 3rd St., and 5pm, Dunne Park.

All guests receive three meals a day, a bed, showers, activities and supportive services. Security services are provided.

In 2018, the cost of operating the center was $617,000.

In 2020, Arreola said the center is embarking on the third phase of a three-phase roll out: $1.4 million for transitional housing units. He said the money has been secured and expects bids to obtain next year.

The county’s homeless population dropped to 283 in 2019, from 527 in 2017, he said. “I really think our homeless count is higher.”

Of these, he said 40 percent were sheltered in emergency facilities, and 60 percent were unsheltered, living on the streets, in parks or vehicles.

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