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Days away from Christmas, 40 Prado sees uptick in homeless families

Posted at 10:44 PM, Dec 21, 2018

On a single night in 2018, roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States.

Nearly half, 47 percent (89,543), of all unsheltered people in the country were in California. A total of 129,972 people were identified as homeless.

Here on the Central Coast, advocates are also seeing an uptick in families without homes.

On Friday around 5 p.m., dozens of people lined up to check in at 40 Prado Homeless Services Center, shaping up to be another night at capacity of 100 people.

“I’d say we’ve been at or over capacity for the past several weeks now,” said director Mychael Castillo.

In a new report released this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, veteran homelessness decreased by 5.4 percent from last year nationally. Homelessness among families with children fell 2.7 percent since 2017. But it is a different story locally with more families in need of services.

“I think that’s been the most immediate notice that I’ve seen is a lot of new families that have become homeless,” Castillo said. He suggests there are a number of factors, including increases in rent costs and less job availability.

Meanwhile, SLO PD is using its Community Action Team to help the chronically homeless, a number that has gone down over the past several years.

“How can we kind of get them out of this revolving system of arrest, court, jail, and back again to getting them the help they need,” said Capt. Jeff Smith.

As for 40 Prado’s Christmas wish?

“Number one is supportive housing,” Castillo said. “Permanent supportive housing. So a case manager starts with you before you’re housed. And continues with you for awhile after you’re housed.”

The community can help 40 Prado with cash donations, individual hand sanitizers, sleeping bags and blankets for the warming center that are handed out during cold or rainy nights.

You can read the report on homelessness here.