This coming Tuesday (November 24) at the City Council meeting we have a unique opportunity to support some of our most vulnerable residents as winter approaches.
There are three items on our city council agenda to address various aspects of the critical need for shelter for people living on the streets of Santa Cruz. One item is about the possible City partnership role in creating a program for individuals living in vehicles to have a legal place to park at night and sleep. The second item is a request from the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women that the City play a role in ensuring a safe place to sleep for women without shelter. The third item is a proposal to allocate some time in city facilities to accommodate the Warming Center program.
1) The City Council will be considering adoption of RV parking restrictions at this meeting. As the City moves in that direction, two of us have suggested that the City create some legal parking spots for people that live in vehicles along with a system for working with these people to assist them in finding a more permanent home. The City Council is being asked to support a plan to identify a nonprofit organization partner to put together such a program.
2) After a very positive discussion at their last meeting, the City's Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women asked the City Council to work toward creating some kind of facility or program to provide emergency shelter for women living on the street. The City Council will decide whether or not to move ahead with this process.
3) After a successful "pilot" effort last year, the volunteer-run Warming Center project is gearing up to operate their program this winter. With a wet winter rapidly approaching, the Warming Center team is working to secure commitments for indoor spaces for people to shelter when the weather crosses certain thresholds of danger to human health. A couple of us are proposing that the City commit to providing approximately one quarter of the nights required to meet the space needs of the Warming Center program.
If you would like to express support for any or all of these proposals, please write to your City Councilmembers. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to that same address to express your concerns about these proposals, too. And you can attend the City Council meeting at City Hall. The Warming Center issue will be on the afternoon agenda (some time after 2:30 pm and most likely after 3:30). The women's shelter issue and the RV issue will be on the evening agenda (some time after 7 pm and most likely after 8 pm).