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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | EAST COUNTY / SIMI VALLEY

Shelter Shuts Down for Warmer Months

April 02, 1999|TONY LYSTRA

Simi Valley's homeless shelter will not stay open for the rest of spring or for summer, a city councilwoman said Thursday.

Although some members of the city's Task Force on Homelessness had wanted to keep the shelter's doors open past the usual seasonal shutdown--March 31--City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson said Thursday that the program would not continue through the warmer months.

"We talked, and I don't think it's going to happen," said Williamson, who is also a task force member. "People are burnt out. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy."

The program, Simi Valley's only homeless shelter, is expected to reopen in the fall. It refers the homeless to a revolving group of churches that provide them places to sleep and get help until the end of March.

After that, the Samaritan Center, located near St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, offers services to the homeless, but not a place to sleep overnight.

The shelter program's Wednesday closure coincides with the effective date of the city's anti-camping ordinance, which was ratified by the City Council last fall and prohibits sleeping outdoors within city limits.

Anthony Michael, a homeless man who attended Wednesday's task force meeting, said he planned to use the shelter that night, but he wasn't sure what he would do after that.

A local homeless advocate, known as "Preacher" Mike Smith, provides a van for the homeless to sleep in. Michael said he might crash there for a while, but the lack of options was dogging him.

"I feel like I'm being run out of a city that I've lived in for 31 years, and that's not right," he said.

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