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Warming Shelter Slated to Close

March 21, 2000|STACY BROWN

The Oxnard Warming Shelter will close March 31 after being filled to capacity through the winter.

When it does, employees will help clients, including about 25 children and a number of working women, find other shelter. The warming shelter is operated by the Salvation Army.

"Every year when the shelter closes, the work remains challenging because now we try to place people in other shelters, assist them with employment and other things," said Karol Scholkin, the regional coordinator for adult services in Oxnard.

This year, however, the task appears more challenging because of the record number of people occupying the shelter.

The shelter opened Dec. 1 and during the first two weeks the number of people grew from 60 a night to 100, much more than last year, program manager Mike Ewens said.

Homeless people receive dinner and breakfast at the Salvation Army headquarters at 622 W. Wooley Road in Oxnard and then are transported by vans to the Oxnard National Guard Armory to bathe and spend the night.

The county expense for running the shelter is about $131,000.

Although many who used the shelter will have no place to go, some will be better prepared, Scholkin said.

"Some of our homeless are currently employed and because they are in the shelter saving money they have been able to save enough money for first month's rent and a deposit on an apartment or room," she said.

But that is not the case for most of those at the shelter.

"Many simply don't have anywhere to go and many don't have employment, so the task is greater and our work becomes focused on trying to assist these people," she said. The shelter is the only one available in the Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura area, compounding the problem that faces dozens when the shelter closes at the end of the month.

"There aren't many alternatives," Scholkin said. "There are other shelters such as the Rescue Mission for single men and Turning Point in Ventura for the mentally ill."

But there is no shelter for women and children, Scholkin said.

"So, because we close the shelter March 31, it doesn't mean our work is done," she said. "Our work continues year-round because we must continue to find placement for people that have nowhere to go, and continue to find the proper settings for all homeless individuals and families."

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