The goal is to reach 50% of the capacity within the first 90 days

PASO ROBLES – Escrow closed Motel 6 in Paso Robles and in less than a week the homeless organization El Camino provided shelter to the residents of the area as the holidays approached.

We were happy, especially for Christmas, to be able to house people and take them out of the cold to celebrate here, says Wendy Lewis, the President and CEO of ECHO. That’s something to be happy about.

The escrow was officially closed on the 2nd. December. Eight days later, 22 people were accommodated in the reception centre.

There were 22 people sitting comfortably in a warm bed, under a hot shower and with people supporting them instead of sitting in the car or outside, Lewis said. Thank you for bringing this Christmas spirit to the people we serve, especially here at Paso Robles.

Lewis said it has been a whirlwind since partners from the San Luis Obispo Housing Authority and People’s Self-Help Housing approached ECHO with the idea of applying for funding for a Homekey project that would bring much-needed housing for the homeless and low-income people to Paso Robles.

In mid-October, HASLO received 15 million dollars from the governor. Gavin Newsom’s homecoming project. The 122-room motel on Black Oak Drive was purchased for $12.4 million.

Ms. Lewis said she’s never seen a project come to fruition so quickly.

The day we got the keys and were able to open the doors to see what we could do seemed surreal, Lewis said. It’s been a long journey to get here. I’ve been working in associations for 15 years and I’ve never seen a project like this come about in such a short time and with so much work.

The site will provide more than 100 emergency shelters for homeless and low-income people to ECHO, HASLO and PPSH.

L’Echo Paso Robles rents out 54 rooms located at the back of an old motel. Lewis said the 42 rooms will be used for a homeless shelter. It will be a mix of emergency and transitional housing.

The remaining space at ECHO Paso Robles will be used for staff and support services.

We look forward to offering programs to help people at home – mental health support, behavioral health support, perhaps working with the food bank and distributing food, Lewis said. All those parts that support people on their way home.

HASLO and PSHH will provide low-income housing in the remaining spaces. His work could begin any moment now.

Mr. Lewis said there would be a clear distinction between a homeless shelter and permanent housing on the facade. It also includes sharing certain services, such as. B. Food programs.

We will bring our nutrition programmes here, and we will offer it to the people who stay with us, to the people who have permanent housing, and then to other people in the community who are food insecure, who just need food to help them cope, Lewis said.

ECHO Paso Robles Room. Photo by Brian Williams

Much of what is currently being offered in ECHO’s Atascadero shelter will also be available in Paso Robles, but capacity will be gradually increased. It is rather a safe haven now that the staff has been trained and the services are available online.

We have a lot of partners who are happy to help us, Lewis said.

ECHO Atascadero offers a program of 90 days and 50 beds and has an emergency shelter in winter. ECHO Paso Robles will offer the same programming, but in a non-compliant environment.

Echo Paso Robles is waiting for a trailer with showers and toilets. When he arrives, they will propose a shower programme similar to that of ECHO Atascadero. It will be open to anyone in need of hygiene.

The staff of ECHO Paso Robles meets people for dinner at the Paso Cares restaurant, located on the corner of 24th Street and Riverside Street. In accordance with the CARES Act, care staff give priority to those who stay in the new shelter – children, families with children and people aged 65 and over.

We give priority because this funding is provided under CARES and is intended to get people off the streets during the life of COWID, Lewis said. Right now, we just take them to a safe place, connect them to case management, and start those conversations, those resource-based conversations. We know these are the first steps and we will continue to develop them. Build our program.

Jeff Al-Mashat is the director of ECHO Paso Robles homeless aid. He said they need to act quickly and easily to meet the 90-day capacity requirement and 50% of the funding source.

There will be changes here almost every day. We’re going very fast. By the end of December we will have a lot of things well in hand. It has been a week and a day and we are very proud of the situation we are in now. Our goal is to open 25 rooms by the end of December.

Al-Mashat and Lewis said they needed the help of the community. ECHO is currently looking for volunteers. Volunteers who can perform a night meditation or someone who is practice-oriented, and people who can provide support through donations.

ECHO is committed to this work and provides as much funding as possible, but it will cost the whole community, Mr Lewis said.

It has been a very busy year for ECHO. A second shelter and two boiler rooms have been set up, the capacity has almost tripled from 50 to 140 people and the staff has been expanded. A year ago ECHO had only six staff and was about to take on a twentieth.

It was a great year, Mr. Lewis said. We could not have done this without the support of the community and our partners. We’re ready to help a lot of people.

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