Warming shelter options looking scarce for homeless in Nevada County | SierraSun.com

Warming shelter options looking scarce for homeless in Nevada County

The Salvation Army in Grass Valley won’t operate a cold-weather warming shelter this year, leaving western Nevada County’s homeless population with fewer places to find refuge during winter nights.

The Salvation Army’s Major Ray Yant said the organization doesn’t have an appropriate facility or enough funding to open a shelter.

Sierra Roots, an organization that serves Nevada County’s chronically homeless population, renewed its agreement with Nevada City on Wednesday to use city-owned facilities to operate a warming shelter for up to 33 individuals.

Hospitality House also operates an emergency shelter in Grass Valley, but is often full.

Catrina Olson, Nevada City’s interim city manager, agreed to open either the Nevada City Veteran’s Memorial Building or Seaman’s Lodge for Sierra Roots to use as a shelter when temperatures dip below 30 degrees, so long as those buildings are available.

The shelter is also permitted to open if temperatures dip below 34 degrees with snow on the ground, when at least one inch of rain has fallen over a 24-hour period or when it has rained for three or more consecutive days.

If both buildings are scheduled for events, event hosts will be asked to reschedule, Olson said. But if rescheduling isn’t possible, Sierra Roots will have to seek alternative options.

Janice O’Brien, president of the organization, said she is working on an agreement to use the Odd Fellows Hall in Nevada City as a shelter when other facilities are unavailable.

O’Brien said allowing a maximum 33 people to use the shelter was appropriate to meet the needs of Nevada City’s homeless population last year, but, “we have yet to see what’s going to happen this year with the Salvation Army closing.”

Sierra Roots volunteers will keep an eye on weather forecasts, O’Brien said, and, whenever possible, will give Nevada City at least 48-hours notice when low temperatures are predicted to ensure a building is available.

“I applaud all the work that’s been done. We’re making little steps,” said Councilmember Evans Phelps.

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