By Hunter Cresswell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 06/20/16, 1:08 AM PDT
In the month and a half the Greater Eureka Community Outreach Program temporary transitional shelter has been open, 18 residents found full time jobs, seven found permanent housing, three enrolled in drug abuse counseling services, one enrolled at College of the Redwoods and nine received help getting state identification or birth certificates.
The shelter was started by a partnership between Betty Chinn of the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation and the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights. It uses retrofitted metal shipping containers to temporarily house up to 40 of the about 135 people evicted from the Palco Marsh in early May and is located in the Mercer-Fraser lot at the corner of West 3rd and Commercial streets in Eureka.
“I never expected it to be this way,” Chinn said. “I feel so blessed.”
HumCPR Executive Director Alec Ziegler shared her sentiment.
“I think everyone involved is pleased with the result,” he said. “It is mostly due to Betty Chinn and her day center.”
Chinn said shelter staff and her staff have worked very hard to connect homeless people to services and training that help them gain independence and necessary skills to re-enter society. She added that she credited the program’s success not only to staff, but to community involvement as well.
“It’s just amazing. I have people come to me looking for somebody,” Chinn said about how she finds jobs for people.
Business owners who need staff and are interested in hiring one of Chinn’s shelter residents can contact her at the day center by calling 707-407-3833.
“… .it has been gratifying to see the program be so successful. The results of people getting jobs, paying taxes, and finding direction for their own lives are encouraging, and most importantly residents are being treated in a compassionate and humane manner,” GECOP President Lee Ulansey said in a GECOP press release.
The wait list to get into the shelter is over 30 names long and 19 women and 17 men along with 22 dogs currently reside there. But not everyone in the shelter is a success story: five people left the program on their own terms and two have been kicked out due to rules violations.
“Some people don’t want to change,” Chinn said.
One person left on their own but decided to come back and apologized to Chinn for leaving.
“I let them come back. Why not?” Chinn said. “I say, ‘You don’t do it for me, you do it for yourself.’ ”
Staffing company Express Employment Professionals conducts on-site seminars to provide employment training and skill evaluations for shelter residents. The 22 dogs also get help from ongoing obedience courses given by a professional trainer. A community garden was installed that will be used for flowers as well as produce for residents, the release said.
Getting these few people jobs and off the streets is only the beginning, Ziegler said.
“We’re hoping to continue what we’re doing and moving as many people into better situations as we can,” he said.
The shelter was proposed and approved to be active for six months. Chinn said she plans on keeping it open at least until November but couldn’t say if she would try to extend it beyond that.
“After six months, then I think about it,” she said.
Contact Hunter Cresswell at 707-441-0506.