Warm Room still searching for this year’s new location in South Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warm Room still searching for this year’s new location in South Lake Tahoe

Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@tahoedailytribune.com
The Warm Room opened for the first time last winter at 981 Silver Dollar Ave. The shelter is still looking for a location for the 2016-17 season.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

South Lake Tahoe’s only homeless shelter, the Warm Room, is still searching for a location for this winter.

The shelter, previously located at 981 Silver Dollar Ave., opened for the first time last winter from Dec. 18 to April 1.

It was open 102 nights, served 107 different guests, and averaged 18 guests per night.

“We continue to look for a space and hope to find one this winter,” said Marissa Muscat, executive director of the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless.

“Many locations, including the 981 Silver Dollar location, are for sale or lease, and most owners hope to sell or lease their space for a long term. Because of the nature of our operation, we are looking for a short-term lease. Therefore, in the next one to two months we will continue to be contacting landlords to see what is available.”

Muscat said it is still possible that they could reopen in last year’s location, or a different location, but it all depends on the availability as winter approaches.

“We hope to open the Warm Room on or around Dec. 1,” said Muscat.

In the winter, the Warm Room is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly. Last season the space could accommodate 20 men and women, 18 years or older, with cots and blankets donated by the American Red Cross.

Families were given a voucher for a motel room for one night, with a maximum of one night per winter.

Around 1,600 volunteer hours went into the shelter’s first year.

The Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless is looking for volunteers for this year, and requires mandatory training for new and returning volunteers. The dates for training are Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. and Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. RSVP to rachel@tahoehomeless.org.

On Sept. 24, the coalition is also hosting a fundraising event called Homebrew for the Homeless, including a homebrew competition, live music, chili cook off, horseback rides, and a poker run. It will take place at the DDRC (Leigh Wayne Miller’s ranch) in Minden, Nevada. Tickets are available online.

The Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless is a subgroup of the Lake Tahoe Collaborative, a nonprofit group of private citizens and public officials from South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County that strives to address issues affecting children and families in the area.

MORE CALLS TO SERVICE

Lt. Brian Williams of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department referred to the creation of the Warm Room as a “double-edged sword.”

“For many well-intentioned, noble efforts, there are potential unintended consequences,” explained Williams, pointing to 66 calls to service for the Warm Room during their first season, plus another 43 calls related to the homeless population around the shelter.

“Many of these were repeat-offender types, from crime to disturbing the peace to unruly people to concerns people had that the Warm Room was close to a children’s bus stop,” said Williams.

“People we know that were at the shelter were defecating in the parking lot of a business by the Warm Room.”

Williams said there were “unquestionably” more calls to service relating to the homeless population than the previous year.

“We just began a system to track these kinds of calls with the inception of the Warm Room,” he added.

According to Williams, there are usually very few homeless people that stick out the winter in South Lake Tahoe, but with the creation of the Warm Room, more have stuck around.

“We encountered other people who came here because of the network of communication between homeless people — they came here because they now know there is this resource.”

Despite the increase in calls to service, Williams said the South Lake Tahoe Police Department is committed to supporting the Warm Room.

“We are fully committed to whatever direction our community decides it wants to take,” said Williams.