Homeless coalition founder Muscat steps down, Purrington announced as new director | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Homeless coalition founder Muscat steps down, Purrington announced as new director

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After four and a half years of volunteering as Executive Director of Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless, Marissa Muscat has stepped away from that role.

Muscat helped found the organization and volunteered her time as director, on top of her fulltime job at Barton Health.

“The organization has increased capacity and I’m not able to give the time and insight the organization needs,” Muscat said.

Muscat, who will continue to volunteer with the coalition, looks back fondly at her time in that role.

“Getting the project off the ground and the collaboration between everyone in the community has been the most fulfilling,” Muscat said. “The city, the county, corporations, first responders, the faith community have circled around this single issue.”

No group addressing the homeless issue in South Lake Tahoe existed prior to Muscat starting the coalition. One of the major resources the coalition offers is the Warm Room during the winter where the homeless population can sleep inside.

“There have been 10,400 times where people have slept indoors instead of out in the elements,” Muscat said.

The coalition has also worked with El Dorado County to step in and prevent 19 families from becoming homeless and Muscat hopes the coalition can continue building their prevention program in the future.

The coalition recently hired Cheyenne Purrington as executive director and Muscat is helping her transition into the role.

“I’m very fortunate to be joining a high-impact team with a ton of community support,” Purrington said in an email. “Over the past five years, Dr. Marissa Muscat grew Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless from a small group to a broad network of neighbors, volunteers, donors, staff, and board members, all working hard to champion this complex issue. I don’t take that for granted; communities all across California are struggling with the challenge of homelessness, and how to solve it.

“Luckily, the South Shore community has already decided that no one should suffer from exposure, or die outside and alone,” Purrington continued. “That’s huge and gives me hope. With the right strategies and funders, TCH can absolutely lead the way to ending homelessness, and that’s going to feel so good for everyone.”

Muscat is also happy with the direction the city is moving in, including looking for affordable housing solutions.

“We might really see some real, positive change and action,” Muscat said.

Purrington, who has previously worked on homelessness in San Francisco and Santa Clara County, said her long-term goal is to end homelessness in South Lake Tahoe.

“Throughout 2020, we’ll be engaging strategic partners and donors in discussions aimed at ending chronic, veteran, and senior homelessness,” Purrington said. “It’s ambitious but definitely achievable. We’ll need to do things differently: we need to leverage existing funding programs, cultivate local donors who understand this as an investment, and create a range of supportive housing options.”

The coalition will host an open house from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Warm Room located at 989 3rd St.

The coalition will be accepting donations for blankets, coffee and tea and non-perishable foods like ramen. There will also be an opportunity to meet Purrington.

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