It's been two weeks since the Salvation Army shuttered its homeless shelters in Watsonville and, already, , community leaders say.
More people are sleeping in doorways and under bridges, Watsonville Police Chief and homeless advocate Manny Solano told the Watsonville City Council on Tuesday evening.
The Salvation Army provided approximately 60 beds, mostly to homeless men. —though other services, such as free meals remain—as a cost-saving measure after years of declining income.
A few of those people displaced by the shelter closure have been taken in by other community groups, according to Watsonville city staff.
- The Pajaro Rescue Mission is housing about 10-15 men.
- took in two families and are working to take a third.
- The Church of Nazarene, which runs , took in four individuals.
“It’s encouraging to see a lot of people ready to get involved," said Mike Gordon, executive director of the Pajaro Rescue Mission.
The Salvation Army cutbacks have compounded a need increase that generated from the and the demolition of the old Metro building on Sakata Lane.
A group of community leaders is working to take over administration of the now-vacant Salvation Army shelters. Gordon told the Watsonville City Council that they expeted preliminary agreement from the Salvation Army soon.
"They are on our side and they want to work collaboratively with us," Gordon said. "I don’t know what that’s going to look like.”
Gordon said once an agreement is reached, they will need public support because the Pajaro Rescue Mission is a nonprofit and doesn’t have the budget to operate the facilities alone. He encouraged Watsonville city councilors to think long-term when seeking a solution.
“This is a great opportunity," Gordon said.