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Carol Johnson serves a shelter guest

San Leandro Times, November 2014

City, Faith Groups to Provide Place for Homeless
to Sleep on Cold Nights

by Liz Varela

In October, the City of San Leandro formed a Homelessness and Housing Task Force. The task force was convened as a human response to the needs of San Leandro’s unsheltered, chronically homeless residents. Members include the City of San Leandro, Interfaith Task Force/April Showers, Building Futures, and Davis Street Family Resource Center.

Last winter when temperatures dipped several times below freezing, seven Bay Area homeless people—including one Hayward man—died on the streets. San Leandro has about 50 homeless people who live outside. Some are senior citizens. Many have long histories of homelessness and a high level of vulnerability.

This winter, April Showers/Interfaith Homeless Network and Building Futures aim to identify and reach out to these people, and provide overnight shelter in a three­month “Warming Center” during rainy or very cold weather.

Specifically, on nights when the weather is forecast to be 38 degrees or colder or rain is predicted, the warming center would be open. The center would be overseen at all times by the project’s paid outreach coordinator, supervising at least two Building Futures’ staff members associated with the project, and by the community volunteers staffing the warming center. All guests will be pre­screened. This is not a drop­in center.

An important meeting will be held at First United Methodist Church (1600 Bancroft Avenue) on Saturday, November 22 from 10 am to 11:30 am. The meeting will provide an overview of this critically needed initiative, and outreach to prospective volunteers.

Many volunteers are needed to staff the warming center, secure the donation of food, bedding, sleeping mats, jackets, scarves, and socks, collect/cook/serve dinner and breakfast to go. The hope is that the San Leandro faith communities and service groups will embrace this ministry.

Interfaith Homeless Network/April Showers has twelve years of service to unsheltered homeless persons here in San Leandro. The seed that was to become Building Futures was founded by faith volunteers and the community at Saint Leander Catholic Church in 1986. Today Building Futures brings to this project expertise in running three emergency shelters.

Based upon the similar program which has been successfully running in Fremont, we anticipate the warming center being open about 50 nights during the 3­month pilot period beginning in early December. Liz Varela is the executive director of Building Futures for Women and Children.

Liz Varela is the executive director of Building Futures for Women and Children.


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