The El Camino Homeless Organization has received approval to expand to a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week facility and add 10 additional beds.
This week the Atascadero City Planning Commission vote 5-0 to approve the new hours and additional beds.
The addition of 10 beds will bring the facility's total number of beds up to 60.
"Homelessness affects us all, because the folks that are on the street or needing these resources," says Wendy Lewis, ECHO President and CEO. "If we help them have a forward progress in getting to housing, it not only saves the community resources, financial resources, it just creates a healthier environment for all of us to live."
According to a recent report, family homelessness has increased nearly 40% in the county since 2017.
According to National statistics, the majority of homeless families are households headed by single women and families with children under the age of six. The largest increase has been experienced by homeless veterans at 78% since 2017.
With a residency program, clients are provided case management services to assist them in securing a job and finding permanent and sustainable housing within three months of entering the shelter program.
While enrolled in the program, clients learn life skills for employment, budgeting, healthier habits and more. The goal and the result of this practical support is the empowerment of residents to move in a positive direction while assisting them in acquiring the skills and services they need to become self-sustaining, including secure housing.
With case management, 60% of those who came through the program last year found permanent housing, Lewis said.
A force of 1,500 community volunteers provide ancillary support to run the shelter program and the meal program that serves as many as 80 dinners each night to shelter residents and the homeless population.
ECHO also operates a shower program that provides hot showers three nights a week to anyone in need. ECHO supplies the homeless population all the necessary toiletries and offers access to clothing, shoes, blankets, sleeping bags and school supplies for children.