County is third worst in nation at sheltering homeless
Estimated 787 are homeless in North County
San Luis Obispo County is one of the worst areas in the nation when it comes to sheltering the homeless, according to the recently-issued federal Annual Homeless Assessment Report. With just 90 percent of homeless people sheltered, the county is third worst county in the nation, the reports says. Only two Florida counties rank worse.
The figures are based a 2013 census, in which 2,186 homeless persons were counted face-to-face in San Luis Obispo County in a 24-hour period. The 2013 report does not break down the figures by area of the county, but the 2011 count found that 36 percent were in the North County. That works out to about 787 homeless people living in North County.
“Paso Robles has no homeless shelter and no warming shelter to keep homeless people warm and dry on very cold and rainy nights,” says Pearl Munak, president of Transitional Food & Shelter, a Paso Robles-based non-profit that helps homeless people.
“Paso Robles police ticket persons found sleeping outdoors or in a vehicle,” Munak says. Paso Robles city ordinance forbids sleeping outdoors or in a vehicle. The county has a similar ordinance.
The overnight homeless shelter in Atascadero is available to those from Paso Robles. But it must often turn away single men because of space limitations, she says. “The Atascadero shelter opens its dining room on very cold and rainy nights, but homeless people from Paso Robles often lack transportation to go there. The busses stop running before the homeless can decide whether to go there on a cold or rainy night.”
Transitional Food and Shelter wants to open a warming shelter in Paso Robles. “Recreational vehicles and a place to store them when not in use have been offered for this purpose,” Munak says. “A place to park the vehicles on cold or rainy nights has not been found yet and no indoor space has been found, she says.
To get involved, contact Pearl Munak at firstname.lastname@example.org.