Santa Barbara County approves funds for daytime warming center t - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Barbara County approves funds for daytime warming center to help homeless

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Santa Maria -

With more El Nino storms on the way, Santa Barbara County says it's working to help the homeless stay warm and dry. The Board of Supervisors has approved nearly $130,000 for warming centers.

Penny Robertson, 69, has spent more than 45 years in Santa Maria. Since November, she's gone to the nighttime warming center at the Salvation Army each time it's opened up.

"I like it. I'm glad there is one," Robertson said. "And I'm glad it's close to where I usually am, but the thing is we have to get up so early, 5:00 in the morning, and supposed to be out by 5:30."

The Salvation Army has to serve lunches during the day, so those who stay overnight during inclement weather have to leave early in the morning, when often times it's still cold or raining.

During those times, Robertson doesn't have anywhere to go.

"(It's) really hard on us to be able to be in the dark and the cold, when this is a warming center," Robertson said. "They should keep us in there until at least sunlight, you know."

Now, the Good Samaritan Shelter is in contract talks with the California National Guard to use its armory building on Thornburg Street as a daytime center.

"We're waiting to see when the next storms come in and hopefully get it going over there," said Kirsten Cahoon, Good Samaritan Shelter representative. "We've still got some logistical stuff to work out and supplies that we need to kind of get it up and running."

Cahoon says the current warming shelter has held up to 65 people in one night, a huge jump from the 15-20 people it housed last year.

"Thank God Salvation Army has been so wonderful in letting us use their facility," Cahoon said. "We've just kind of outgrown it with the number of clients that we have."

The contract to use the armory has not been signed yet, but Good Samaritan hopes to activate the daytime center within the next week.

Good Samaritan also plans to move the nighttime warming shelter from the Salvation Army to the National Guard Armory as well, essentially making the building a 24-hour warming center.

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