Grass Valley to fund overflow homeless shelter | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley to fund overflow homeless shelter

Hospitality House opened an overflow shelter with 15 extra spaces for Nevada County's homeless population this month, which the organization plans to keep open every night throughout the winter.

"There is no other alternative," said Nancy Baglietto, executive director of Hospitality House. "Except when the temperatures drop extremely low, there is no place to send them."

Hospitality House typically accommodates 54 guests, but the Grass Valley shelter is often full, forcing employees to turn away homeless people with nowhere else to go during the cold winter months.

Sierra Roots, another local organization, opens a warming shelter in Nevada City when temperatures drop below a certain threshold established by the city's staff. In recent years, Hospitality House followed a similar operating procedure with its overflow shelter, opening up space for an additional 15 guests on especially cold or wet nights.

But this year, that space will be available regardless of the conditions outside.

The Grass Valley City Council agreed last week to help fund the overflow shelter. The city will pay Hospitality House $37,206 so the organization can accommodate an additional 15 guests from Dec. 15 through Feb. 28 — half of the desired program timeline. The money comes from Grass Valley's general fund.

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Baglietto said the Hospitality House will also solicit help from Nevada County, who she hopes will agree to contribute the same amount, to fund the overflow shelter from Nov. 15 to Dec. 14 and Feb. 28 to April 15.

In the meantime, the shelter is up and running.

"We have every hope that the county is going to help," Baglietto said.

According to Alison Lehman, Nevada County's assistant executive officer, Hospitality House's proposal is expected to be discussed by the county's Board of Supervisors at its Jan. 9 meeting.

County staff members are in support of the board approving the request, she said.

Looking forward, county officials say they hope to launch an expanded homeless shelter program through Hospitality House, which would operate 24 hours per day. The shelter currently closes its doors each day between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"I want to recognize the board and staff of Hospitality House for their willingness to expand shelter services to meet the needs of our most vulnerable population during winter months," Lehman said.

Hospitality House operates its overflow shelter in the dining room at Utah's Place, the organization's headquarters on Sutton Way, where tables and chairs are moved aside to make room for additional guests.

Baglietto said the organization is taking steps to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the overflow shelter by purchasing cots and hiring a commercial cleaning service to sanitize the area twice-weekly.

"This is really a wonderful opportunity for Hospitality House, the county and the city to work together," Baglietto said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.