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Tahoe homeless coalition has record season, new office space

The Warm Room was relocated to the recreation center this past winter in South Lake Tahoe.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless experienced a record-breaking shelter season.

In response to successive snowstorms and the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition extended emergency shelter operations to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The coalition did this quickly to limit contagion spread, cold weather exposure, emergency room visits, law enforcement interactions and helped support and protect the most vulnerable South Shore individuals.

The coalition’s team of volunteers worked long hours wearing masks, carefully cleaning spaces, educating clients, and giving up personal time with their own families to keep our clients safe, said Executive Director Cheyenne Purrington. She said the outpour of financial and in-kind support from the community and having the city’s help was key.

“This has been possible because of the community outpouring,” said Cheyenne Purrington, executive director of the coalition. “It has been hugely important to have the city’s support.”

The coalition served 148 people, 35 more than last year, and averaged 27 guests per night, with a record high of 42.

The coalition provided 575 showers, cleaned 367 loads of laundry; attended more than 214 support group sessions and 85 individual sessions; secured housing for 13 people and made five rehabilitation referral placements; Provided 16 motel nights for homeless families with children and the motel program helped 31 vulnerable clients shelter in place for five weeks.

While the emergency sheltering programs have ended, the coalition now has permanent office space thanks to Barton Health, Purrington said. The office is located at 1120 3rd Street, Suite B above Christmas Cheer.

The coalition will offer a range of services, including:

– A coffee and snack bar for clients visiting to receive case management services

– A basic needs pantry for warm socks, hygiene supplies, and snacks

– An open, vented meeting space for small group counseling sessions

– A small telehealth therapy room for clients to access service providers remotely

– A computer station for clients to check email, create a resume, or apply for jobs

– A restroom with toilet, sink, shower, and tub so clients can stay clean and dignified

– Several private staff offices for conducting meetings and continuing case management

– Hand-washing kits and information to ensure unsheltered individuals can stay clean

– Training for partners on the coordinated entry system for homeless individuals

– An online training video library on key topics like trauma, boundaries, and harm reduction

– A cell phone program to ensure clients can communicate with us and other providers

– A counseling program for telehealth, one-on-one, walk in, and small group session

– A mail hold program so that clients without a permanent address can receive mail

– A landlord engagement toolkit to help develop strategies for housing access

– Third-party payee services to ensure client rent is always paid to landlords on time

“The ultimate goal is to help people with housing support,” said Purrington. “It’s changing people’s lives.”


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