Nevada City buildings unavailable for homeless warming shelter | TheUnion.com

Nevada City buildings unavailable for homeless warming shelter

Nevada City allows Sierra Roots, a local nonprofit, to open a warming shelter for homeless people at designated, city-owned buildings on exceptionally-cold winter nights if those buildings are available.

But according to facility rentals calendars linked to Nevada City's website, the designated buildings are reserved for other events most days in January and February.

According to a memorandum of understanding between Sierra Roots and Nevada City adopted in October, the temperature in Nevada City must be below 30 degrees for a warming shelter to open.

Exceptions are made when rainfall has occurred for three or more consecutive days or when the temperature is below 34 degrees and either snow is on the ground or one inch of rainfall has occurred within a 24-hour period.

Either the Nevada City Veterans Building — the city's preferred venue for the shelter — or the Seaman's Lodge must also be available. Both buildings are available for the public to rent out.

"Renters who are scheduled for either facility will not be asked to cancel their event to accommodate a warming shelter," the memorandum states. "If a group is asked to move locations … this will only be done with 48 hour advance notice to the existing renter."

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In January, the Veterans Building is booked for events on all but four days, according to the Nevada County facilities rentals calendar, which is linked to Nevada City's website. In February, the building is booked on all but three days.

The Seaman's Lodge has slightly more availability, but is still booked most days. All but nine days in January and 11 days in February have scheduled events.

Pauli Halstead, a Nevada City resident and homeless advocate, has asked city and county officials on multiple occasions to designate a building exclusively for a warming shelter during winter months.

"What good is it to have a memorandum of understanding for a warming shelter and it's not available?" she said.

City officials did not return phone calls for this story by press time.

Other shelter opportunities

In previous years, the Grass Valley Salvation Army opened a warming shelter on its property during cold winter nights. But the organization told The Union in October it won't be opening a shelter this year due to a lack of resources and an insufficient facility.

Grass Valley recently agreed to pay for 15 extra beds at Hospitality House, western Nevada County's only year-round emergency homeless shelter, from Dec. 15 through Feb. 28.

The shelter, which typically accommodates 54 guests, is often full. The 15 extra beds provide more room during winter months, but Hospitality House employees still turn away some homeless people looking for a warm place to sleep when the shelter is over capacity.

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

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