Local cold weather shelter houses homeless

The Cold Weather Shelter is one of the many local programs that provide services to the homeless. Founded in 1993 as part of Davis Community Meals, the shelter offers homeless men and women a warm, safe place to sleep during the winter months.

Officially opening its doors in mid-November when temperatures begin to drop, the shelter operates daily through the end of March. It has maintained a house at 512 Fifth St. since 2006, a location that is within walking distance of other resources.

There is currently room enough to house eight homeless men and two homeless women per night at the shelter. During the 2008 winter season, it provided 66 different individuals with lodging. In more recent years, the number of individuals has gone down, but the activity of the shelter remains the same.

“People are staying for a longer time,” said Bill Pride, the executive director for Davis Community Meals. “This means that space fills up pretty quickly.”

To obtain a bed at the shelter, individuals must receive a voucher from the Davis Community Meals Resource Center on H Street. Pride also said that it is the policy of the Cold Weather Shelter to allow an individual to stay up to 14 consecutive nights. However, people are able to wait a night and then return to the shelter for 14 more consecutive nights.

The shelter’s hours are 6 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Meals are provided, and those who stay at the shelter sleep on bunk beds. Books, games and a television are available for use. There are usually three volunteers working at the shelter, two of whom spend the night to ensure everything runs smoothly.

While participants who use the shelter are not required to be clean or sober at the time of their stay, there are certain rules that everyone must follow.

“Individuals can’t be argumentative,” said Pride. “They also need to be able to take care of themselves and live in a community setting.”

Many of the volunteers are UC Davis students from clubs on campus, such as H.E.L.P., a  community service club whose mission is to fight poverty.

Danny Fonseca, an intern at the shelter and member of H.E.L.P., said that his favorite part about working at the shelter is talking with the guests.

“We get to talk one-on-one,” he said. “Some of the people there are not used to social interaction because no one really talks to them during the day. They can tell some touching stories; what they did before they were homeless, their families.”

There are approximately 110 to 130 homeless people in Davis according to a recent census that was conducted by the Yolo County Homeless and Poverty Action Coalition. Of these, the census says that 50 to 60 percent are temporarily housed. This leaves 55 to 65 people who are in need of shelter throughout the year, many of whom are picked up by the Cold Weather Shelter in the winter months.

In addition to the shelter, Davis Community Meals offers emergency, permanent-supportive, family-supportive and transition-aged youth housing. Two other programs provide meals and a day resource center.

To donate food or other items to Davis Community Meals, call (530) 756-4008. Those interested in volunteering for any of their programs may call (530) 220-4089.

CHLOE BREZSNY can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

Comments are closed.