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Anna Salas has been going to the county’s homeless shelter every night and uses her car as a refuge during the day when the shelter is closed. Three weeks ago, Salas’ routine changed.
Rather than getting up early in the morning to leave the shelter, known as the H.O.M.E. Resource Center, and driving to a place where she would spend the rest of the day, she now can sleep in and use her crockpot to cook homemade meals.
This happened because Salas, along with other shelter guests, were temporarily placed in the Hollister Inn Sept. 18 while the county completes work on renovations to the shelter.
Salas, 66, started staying at the shelter in June, when her dog died. She was left with one dog and was able to go into the shelter, as guests are allowed one pet.
“We’re happy because we can cook our own food and we don’t have to be out in the elements,” said Salas, who took her crockpot and air fryer to the hotel.
Hotel occupants through the shelter are allowed to stay in their rooms all day—a change from being required to leave from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. because funding is insufficient to operate the shelter 24 hours.
“Being here at the motel is saving us gas,” said Salas, because she doesn’t need to leave and drive around in her car until the shelter opens its doors. “We’re able to stay in and out of the elements.”
Shelter staff check on guests at 9 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., Salas said.
The resource center is hosting 32 guests at the Hollister Inn, Program Manager Eve Mata said on Oct. 3. The current renovations continue work that began in April, which involved repairs to the floors, walls and pavement, Mata said.
In April, the San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency was awarded $1.15 million to renovate the shelter.
Located at 1161 San Felipe Rd. Building A, the shelter is operated by Community Homeless Solutions and can currently serve 44 guests, Mata said.
Though space is limited at the hotel, Mata said, she encouraged those seeking shelter to contact the shelter before 1 p.m each day.
“The earlier the better,” she said, since shelter staff need vouchers from the county to place folks into a room and rent rooms in advance. The county office, which hands out the vouchers, closes at 5 p.m., she said.
As of Oct. 3, the shelter cannot place additional guests in the hotel, but people in need of shelter are encouraged to call the county to be placed on a waitlist, Mata said.
Since the shelter is closed, shelter staff are feeding occupants through Martha’s Kitchen, a San Jose-based nonprofit soup kitchen. Breakfast sandwiches, cereal, muffins, sandwiches and microwavable meals are available for the shelter’s occupants for breakfast and lunch.
For dinner, community members and local churches including the Salvation Army, Sunnyslope Christian Center and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are donating dinners. The Community Food Bank of San Benito County is also continuing to donate food and snacks, said Christina Leon, Community Homeless Solutions Program Coordinator.
Renovations at the shelter are expected to be completed Oct. 6, Mata said. The shelter will resume operating from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.
For those experiencing homelessness, needing assistance, or having any questions, contact Community Homeless Solutions at (831) 256-1852.
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