Boys & Girls Club: ‘No issues’ with Warm Room at new location
At a recent school board meeting, representatives from the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe and South Tahoe Middle School said there have been “no issues” with the new location of the South Shore’s only seasonal homeless shelter so far.
The Warm Room, run by Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless, moved Jan. 1 to a city-owned building on Rufus Allen Boulevard after temporarily opening on Christmas Eve at the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church.
The location, which is near the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, a school bus stop, the city recreation center and a residential neighborhood, sparked concern from some residents.
In response, the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless implemented a number of security measures, including a security guard, cameras and a key-pad locking system at the Boys & Girls Club.
They also adjusted the release times of the shelter in the morning so as not to coincide with school bus pick-ups.
“We’ve continued to have absolutely no issues at all into the school year with our closing time of 6:30. I have immense gratitude for both the board of the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless and the school board and the city,” said Jude Wood, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, at the Jan. 16 Lake Tahoe Unified School District board meeting.
“I would much rather have to explain to one of the kids or even my own child, who is also in the building at preschool, that that person walking down the street has some issues, but our community is taking care of them rather than have to explain that that person is sleeping on the grass out by St. Theresa’s because our community is not taking care of them.”
South Tahoe Middle School principal John Simons had no issues to report either.
In a presentation to the LTUSD board, Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless board member Annie Davidson said they have started a neighborhood walk where volunteers go around speaking with people in the area to get feedback.
“One of the things we’re doing next week is having training for staff at the rec center as well as the team at the ice rink to talk about protocols and how to handle [situations with homeless people] because they’ve had them in the past, so it’s been a great way for us to use some of our resources to help address these issues that have been there,” added Davidson.
LTUSD board member and clerk Angela Swanson praised the coalition for its willingness to listen and adapt to assuage residents’ concerns.
“I was so struck by how open and willing you were to allow people to have and express discomfort and concerns,” said Swanson.
The Warm Room serves an average of 30 adult men and women every night. According to the most recent point-in-time count in January 2017, there are 82 homeless individuals in South Lake Tahoe, up from 38 in 2015. This is in line with the growth seen across El Dorado County, which had a total of 443 in 2017, up from 247 in 2015.