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Ventura County Roundup / East | SIMI VALLEY

Churches to Resume Sheltering Homeless

October 14, 1998|S.J. CAHN

Churches around Simi Valley next month will begin opening their doors to provide the homeless a warm, safe place to sleep at night.

Continuing a decade-old program dubbed Public Action to Deliver Shelter, churches beginning Nov. 1 will take turns providing beds and meals to those with nowhere to stay. The program will be in effect through March.

With an ordinance set to take effect next month that prohibits the homeless from camping in public places, members of the city's Homelessness Task Force hope to find a permanent, year-round solution.

Until then, the shelter program will have to suffice, said Dianne Hooley, executive director of the Samaritan Center.

"I kind of view it as an option to find other long-term solutions," Hooley said.

More than a dozen participating churches have provided the space and volunteers to keep the program going since 1988.

Every other Saturday, for example, the United Methodist Church opens its community building, Whitman Hall, to 35 or so homeless people, said Chet Hamilton, who runs the program at the church.

Volunteers provide snacks at night, blankets, cots and breakfast in the morning, Hamilton said. Clients are required to abide by rules banning fighting, alcohol and drugs.

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