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Paso Robles homeless shelter celebrates second anniversary 

jpg volunteers

Shelter volunteers.

El Camino Homeless Organization’s second campus opened in Dec. 2020

– El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) has been serving those in the community facing homelessness since 2001. But in Dec. 2020, an opportunity arose for ECHO to expand services and open a second campus in Paso Robles. With one-time funding available from the state, a building situated in the city’s Homeless Services Overlay Zone, and a community ready for new services to be introduced, ECHO set to work opening their new campus on a portion of the project offering an emergency shelter program, a residency shelter program, meals, showers, and housing resources available to anyone in the community. Now open for two years what impact has the shelter had on the City of Paso Robles?

“North County is blessed by ECHO. If it wasn’t for ECHO I don’t know where we’d be,” said John Hamon, Paso Robles City Councilmember. On Jan. 17, ECHO reported its quarterly stats to the community at the Paso Robles City Council meeting. Just in the first few weeks of January, the Paso Robles Campus has supported five individuals and families on their journeys back into housing.

What is it that contributes to the high success rate at ECHO’s two campuses? One former resident had the following to say about the services received: “I really can’t put into words how much you employees have done for me these last two years of my life. Seriously, I’d probably be dead if it wasn’t for the shelter and the totally awesome staff that employ it.”letter from echo resident

But what makes ECHO tick? How have they been able to tap into this success in seeing people get back into housing? “It’s the volunteers that want to be part of the solution, and the stability our program offers,” said Greer Woodruff, Board Chair of ECHO. “We fill over 500 volunteer positions monthly that run our programs at our two campuses. It is someone from the community coming in and saying I see you, I am glad you’re here, and I know you can do this. There is nothing more powerful than that.”

“We are serving people that are from this city,” said Wendy Lewis, CEO and president of ECHO. “We have collected the data and 85% of the individuals we serve are from here. It makes it that much more impactful when a volunteer from their community comes in and offers support.”

As for stability, ECHO is the first organization on the Central Coast to adopt a stable shelter model, with individualized housing plans and case management for both individuals and families facing homelessness. That means that once someone becomes a resident, they don’t have to worry about where they will be laying their head, and getting their meals from while they go out and apply for housing, jobs, and resources.

“I am very encouraged by the success of your program getting so many people housed and so many people jobs, … your staff is doing an amazing job,” Councilmember Steve Gregory said at the most recent city council meeting.

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The O’Dell family.

During the city council meeting, Kate Swarthout, Operations and Client Services Manager of ECHO shared the following story from former residents of the shelter:

“The O’Dell family came to ECHO after falling on hard times. They were entered into our 90-day program where Robert (dad) worked diligently with case management to set goals, including help for his mental health issues. After a few months, their case manager was able to help them find permanent housing and find employment. The family loves their new home.”

Visit to learn more about the shelter as well as ways to help.


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About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at