Nevada City renews cold weather shelter agreement
Last week the Nevada City Council unanimously approved a motion to extend the working agreement of the Cold Weather Shelter to May 1, 2017.
The agreement, which was first established in March 2014, will authorize the city manager to open an emergency shelter in Nevada City to accommodate the local homeless population, under extreme weather conditions and when certain criteria are met.
The effort is a collaboration between City of Nevada City, Salvation Army, Sierra Roots, Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency, Nevada County Food Bank, and Hospitality House.
The emergency center would be an addition to the existing Salvation Army Cold Weather Shelter on Alta Street in Grass Valley.
“It was basically opened in reaction to someone who died out in the cold a few years ago,” said Lt. Sidney Salcido, corps officer of the Salvation Army in Nevada County. “The officers before me decided that they didn’t want that to happen again. “
Sarah Eastberg, director of social services at the Salvation Army facility in Grass Valley, said the shelter has been running since 2011 and has accommodated 10 to 20 people in need, per night. Its operation times are from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“We opened 10 to 11 days during winter nights (last year),” Eastberg said, but added that in the four years the shelter has been operating, there were also years when it was in operation for 20 days.
“It’s based on the weather, “ said Eastberg. “Basically we open when it’s 32 degrees and wet, or 28 degrees and dry. Obviously those aren’t extreme weather conditions, but that’s part of our agreements of how to use this building.”
Weather conditions also play a part in the Nevada City emergency shelter contract.
The city manager has the authority to open the center when the following criteria are met: if the temperature is below 28 degrees; or the temperature is below 32 degrees with 1 inch of rain in 24 hours; or the temperature is below 32 degrees with snow on the ground.
Nevada City will also open the shelter if the Salvation Army facility is full, or if transportation to the shelter is difficult under severe weather conditions.
“Under the agreement, we didn’t open very often at Nevada City,” said Janice O’Brien, president of Sierra Roots, “The Salvation Army (shelter) wasn’t full that often.”
Eastberg said the Nevada City emergency shelter didn’t open last year because of the mild winter.
“We had a group of 10 here last year, so there was no overflow. The roads stayed passable,” Eastberg said, adding that it’s possible that the Nevada City shelter would open this year, because of the prediction of a wet winter.
“In years past, there have been a couple of times when they did open, but it had nothing to do with that agreement,” Eastberg said. “Now that agreement kind of ties us all together so that we can work together and really maximizes our resources.”
City officials can also make the decision to open the emergency shelter based on the availability of facilities in Nevada City and whether the partner agencies have followed the operating procedures developed by staff.
Some of the guidelines are: volunteers shall be at least 18 and must have attended a training provided by the Salvation Army or Sierra Roots within the past three years; no alcohol, drugs, weapons or sexual activities are permitted on premises; and smoking is only permitted outside with a chaperone in a designated areas between 6-10 p.m. and 6-7 a.m.
In extreme emergency situations, Nevada City’s city manager will also have the authority to provide backup transportation to the Salvation Army Cold Weather Shelter.
In such instances, pickup will occur between 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Chevron Station on Sacramento Street and the National Hotel bus stop.
To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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