The End of Motel Shelter for Our Homeless Neighbors
A Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Dorothy’s Place
by Jill Allen
Dorothy’s Place, with the support of partner agencies, recently sheltered 42 homeless persons that meet the state and federal guidelines for high risk of COVID infection. These particularly vulnerable unsheltered people had no place to shelter inside, isolated from other people. “Project Refuge”, which is akin to the state’s program, “Project Roomkey”, offered safety from the coronavirus for some of the hundreds of people who live on our streets, in tents and cars, in Monterey County, and throughout California.
To accomplish this, we literally moved half our social work office into two rooms in the “Refuge” motel(in an undisclosed location). Dorothy’s Place provided our motel guests with case management, three monitoring visits daily and three meals daily. We also assisted those suffering with addiction withdrawals by partnering with Sun Street Centers and Natividad Medical Center to provide speedy connection with withdrawal medications.
Now, in a recent directive from Governor Gavin Newsom and federal Housing and Urban Development Department officials, we are transitioning as many of our motel guests as we can directly into housing. We were asked to ensure those who are the most vulnerable do not return to living on the streets. Since there is very little permanent housing available immediately (four apartments on Soledad St in Chinatown, to be exact), we are moving 18 people from the motel to Dorothy’s Place transitional housing.
This presents a superb opportunity to push past the red tape and get people housed. It only took a day for Dorothy’s Place to come up with a list of 80 candidates to place into the motel, ranked by health vulnerability, and to contact them. Many of those who sheltered in the motel are regular guests of Dorothy’s – people who live in tents and cars on the streets, who suffer daily from traumatic experiences past and present, who eat at Dorothy’s every day, and who have come to us for help with housing. We know their stories and their needs. They know us.
“Project Refuge” has become a catalyst and a bridge to permanent housing. Our goal is to assist our guests in finding a permanent place to live in just a couple of weeks, but to do that, we offer transitional housing, through our House of Peace Transitional Living Program, not just because there is literally no way to find these folks low-income housing in a couple weeks, but because most of these encampment dwellers need a time of transition to become accustomed to the responsibility of leasing and caring for a new home. We know how to do this, even with its many obstacles, including scarce and limited housing availability.
We are also working with the Housing Authority for the County of Monterey to apply for a limited number of Section 8 federal housing vouchers. This will help people with a documented disability. But even with a voucher, finding a landlord that will accept a voucher is often very difficult.
So how does all of this involve you?
• If you’re a property manager or landlord that can assist at least one of our motel guests by accepting them as a tenant, please let us know. Our commitment to you is to provide active case management, including monthly visitation to this tenant, for a year.
• If you have property that might need repair so that it can house these people, let us know. We might be able to find you some help to do that.
• If you are a person who would like to establish a legacy by funding our transitional housing or maybe something bigger – like rehabbing a building into needed permanent or transitional housing – let us know. We can hook you up with a plan and great advice.
• If you are a person that considers themselves blessed to be housed and comfortable and you wish to assist us, please consider making a tax deductible donation to Dorothy’s Place today.
In order to move our guests from their motel rooms into permanent, sustainable housing, we’re going to need your help.
Please support the work of Dorothy’s Place by donating here. Have more questions? Feel free to call me or my colleague, Lee Hulquist, at 831-578-4198 or 831-9320-8765, respectively.
Everything that we have built at Dorothy’s Place to get people off the streets and into homes came only through your help. Please help us take advantage of an unanticipated opportunity amidst a crisis.
As always, we are very grateful for your kindness and your generosity!
Jill Allen is the executive director at Dorothy’s Place. She stands for grace, acceptance, and respect.
With love, respect and compassion, Dorothy’s Place provides essential services, transitional support and housing assistance to people experiencing the injustice of homelessness and extreme poverty.
Without your financial support, our work doesn’t happen. Join us! Stand with us as we assist people from street life to home life. Your solidarity is humbly and gratefully received.