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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Salvation Army to Open Interim Shelter

November 16, 2000|KEVIN F. SHERRY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OXNARD — With nighttime temperatures dipping into the 30s, a shelter run by the Salvation Army will open its doors early to homeless people, officials said.

A winter warming shelter at the National Guard Armory is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1, but the recent cold snap prompted city officials to find a short-term solution.

Salvation Army officials say they will open an interim shelter at their center on Wooley Road at 4 p.m. Friday. That shelter will accept people every night until the armory opens its doors two weeks later, the charity's officials said.

The Wooley Road shelter can house 50 people comfortably and up to 75 people when necessary, Salvation Army Capt. Norman Patton said.

For the past week, Patton said, two or three people a night have sought refuge at the center, at 622 W. Wooley Road. The city and other service agencies in the area also have received inquiries on services for homeless people, said Sal Gonzales, Oxnard's housing director.

"We've been getting several calls about the shelter opening sooner than Dec. 1," Gonzales said.

Social service workers in county government also have been handling a large number of calls because of the weather, said Shirley Alloway, manager for adult services.

"It has been especially cold this week," Alloway said. "It's always sad this time of year."

Shelters typically open the week of Thanksgiving, but this year many have set Dec. 1 as a start date, Alloway said. That has led to confusion among homeless people, she said.

On Tuesday night, the Oxnard City Council agreed to ask the county Board of Supervisors for $48,000 to assist with the shelter. The city had planned to ask for $34,000 but increased the requested amount because of the early start-up.

The Salvation Army center needs at least $10,000 to pay staff members and provide meals for the extra two weeks of operation, Patton said. But the group will not wait for local governments to make a decision on funding before opening.

Salvation Army officials will not provide transportation to the shelter from other cities, Patton said. Because of limited space, he said, the center will put a priority on available beds for families and those who are sick.

"Women and children will be our first target," he said. "Our biggest concern is the families."

Patton expects at least 40 people a night to use the temporary shelter. The armory, on K street across from the old Oxnard High School, is larger and can accommodate about 150 people once it opens.

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