THE SALVATION ARMY HAS WARM BEDS FOR 96 HOMELESS
(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – The Salvation Army has beds to shelter 96 people a night, thanks to some help from the City and County of San Bernardino. The Salvation Army’s mission does not stop there. They also provide meals, case management, tutoring and referral services for shelter families.
In November of 2007, the City of San Bernardino approved a Temporary Use Permit allowing The Salvation Army of San Bernardino to use its Center for Worship and Service at 746 W. Fifth Street as a shelter facility for women and children, as well as cold weather relief for homeless men. This allowed the Salvation Army to strengthen one of its most vital services to the community, that of sheltering citizens with nowhere else to go.
From March through November of 2007, the Salvation Army did not have a shelter. The California Department of Transportation had purchased, through eminent domain, the Salvation Army’s Kingman Street shelter, and tore that building down. This forced the Salvation Army to transition to a temporary motel voucher shelter program.
“It was a difficult time, but the sheltering of homeless families never missed a night,” said Salvation Army Captain Stephen Ball. “The motel voucher shelter is less effective than a facility-based shelter and could accommodate fewer clients, which meant Army leaders needed to come up with an alternative solution.
“We are grateful to the city for allowing us to use our headquarters building as a shelter,” he added. “The motel voucher system was just too expensive.”
This new arrangement is also a temporary solution, as Salvation Army personnel are already planning to permanently relocate shelter operations to a new site in 2009.
At the Fifth Street site, an average of 50 women and children are seeking shelter each night. These families are welcomed by caring staff and volunteers.
“The Salvation Army works with them to help them better their lives,” Captain Ball said. “We help them apply for public assistance, find a job and budget their money so they can live independently.”
For the children in these families, the San Bernardino City Unified School District offers after-school tutoring at the shelter four days a week. On Fridays, the children take part in character development programs.
These programs sometimes include field trips to interesting places such as Knott’s Berry Farm or Big Bear Lake. For the boys and their dads (mentors), a deep-sea fishing trip is in the works.
“Many of these children have never had the experiences we take for granted. There are 17-year-old children who have never seen the beach or been to the mountains. Helping these children to see something better than what they’re used to is most rewarding,” Captain Ball said. “We want to show them the kind of future they can have. We also want them to know people care about them right now, right where they are.”
From the total shelter capacity of 96 beds, 28 beds are designated for homeless men during the cold weather months. This program continues from October 1st through April 30, 2008. The granting of the Temporary Use Permit was right on time for the first cold, rainy weather of the season.
However, the Salvation Army hopes the city will allow the shelter to continue in its present location until a new plan can be worked out. Pending approval by the City of San Bernardino, it plans in early 2009 to move to another shelter at 925 W. 10th Street.
This shelter is presently used by another branch of the Salvation Army, the Adult Rehabilitation Center, which serves the community’s homeless men. This branch is constructing a brand new 126-bed men’s residence on Doolittle Street.
When the men’s shelter moves to its new location on Doolittle Street, the Salvation Army of San Bernardino hopes to purchase the existing 77-bed men’s residence and operate its family shelter there. If approved by the city, this will become the center of the Salvation Army’s homeless ministry in San Bernardino.
The remodeling project could take about three or four months, Captain Ball said. With the city’s approval, he anticipates moving to the new shelter sometime between January and March of 2009.
The Salvation Army San Bernardino Citadel Corps has helped residents of: San Bernardino, Rialto, Grand Terrace, Highland, Bloomington and Colton since 1887.
The homeless shelter and meals program is at 746 W. Fifth St. in San Bernardino. For more information call (909) 888-1336.
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