Danita Sorenson: It seems the devil is in the details
A statement by Mr. Mike Dent (Director of Housing & Child Support Services) broadcast on KNCO on July 30, that Nevada County had no emergency shelter last winter is technically correct.
Overlooked, however, was the fact that for several years, a yearly memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Nevada City and Sierra Roots, a local nonprofit, has permitted the use of either Seaman’s Lodge or the Nevada City Veterans building to operate as a shelter, financed and operated by volunteers recruited and trained by Sierra Roots.
This past winter, criteria of the MOU were met on 16 instances and Sierra Roots provided shelter on each of those nights. Salvation Army’s decision to not open a shelter in Grass Valley did impact on Sierra Roots by increasing the average attendance of 30 to 35 people to a maximum of 52 people on several nights.
Cost to the county during the years of MOUs has been nonexistent and to the city minimal, primarily in terms of loss of rental revenueand utilities costs for any nights a venue was occupied to shelter.
It appears that Nevada County had no emergency shelter last winter. But there is a discrepancy between appearance and reality. Appearance: no shelter. Reality: volunteers at a nonprofit continued to do the county’s work and shelter the county’s most vulnerable. County officials might do well to take heed.
Danita Sorenson, Ph.D
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