Truckee Warming Shelter gears up for another winter season
The Truckee Warming Shelter, which already opened its doors for two nights in late October, is ready for its fifth season operating as the only homeless shelter in the North Tahoe area.
“I’m so grateful our community takes care of each other,” said Cathie Foley, executive director of the warming shelter.
The shelter is only open on nights of severe weather, in which temperatures drop below 15 degrees or there is more than a foot of snow in the forecast. Last season, they opened 39 nights on the most severe weather days, serving a total of 72 guests including six children. Families with children were connected to shelter outside the center in private homes or a motel, Foley said. Guests are allowed to stay as long as severe weather persists.
Last year, they had 45 guests who arrived in a crisis situation, a 50% increase from the year before. They also provided people with bus tickets, gas or other transportation when it was needed so they were not stranded during a winter storm.
Of the 72 total guests served last year, 27 are chronically homeless. Not only does the organization provide shelter, but it also serves to provide opportunities to those with nowhere else to turn. This can come in the form of sleeping bags, warm clothes or necessary supplies to survive on their own or assistance with permanent solutions. Last year, they provided 30 individuals with such supplies, as well as a connection to community resources.
“Our main goal is to get to know people and help them long term,” said Foley. “We’re able to develop a relationship with them and help them, and help them connect with other services whether that’s medical care or connections with family.”
This year marks the second year the shelter is no longer in a pilot stage and can now operate with a minor use permit from the town. In February of 2015, Nevada and Placer counties facilitated a homeless count in which they counted 51 individuals without shelter in area. That same year a subgroup of United for Action, a coalition of faith-based and nonprofit groups formed a partnership with Church of the Mountains, which hosts the shelter at 10069 Church St., to get approval of a temporary use permit from the Truckee Planning Commission.
In order to operate, the shelter relies on grants from Placer and Nevada counties, as well as community support through donations. Foley said two-thirds of the operating budget comes from grants. In the future, shelter staff hopes to have a shower on site along with a washer and dryer to provide clean clothes to their guests.
When operating, the shelter is open from 6 p.m to 7 a.m. and fits a maximum of 16 guests with a rotation of at least eight trained volunteers. In order for the shelter to open and remain open, Foley said, it must be staffed by trained volunteers.
Those interested in volunteering can contact her at email@example.com.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2652.