5Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC), in partnership with the County of San Luis Obispo (SLO) and City of Grover Beach, will soon open a temporary emergency housing model in Grover Beach to help those experiencing homelessness in South County. Known as "Cabins for Change," the program will provide shelter and case management services to help homeless residents achieve the ultimate goal of permanent housing. There are currently no emergency housing facilities available in South County, making this much-needed resource extremely valuable to both those in need and their communities.
The shelter is currently under construction, and is anticipated to open by early October, 2022
Homelessness is a complex and ever-growing challenge that touches all communities, having worsened in recent years due to housing scarcity caused by rising rents, limited wages and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. San Luis Obispo County has the third largest percentage of unsheltered homeless in the nation and we are the second least affordable small metro area in the country with our cost of housing more than 50% higher than the national average. Unsheltered homelessness in SLO County has grown by 22% in just five years. Recognizing this immense and mounting challenge, in 2018 the County Board of Supervisors, along with seven local City Councils, declared a homeless emergency housing crisis. This made SLO County eligible to receive state and federal funding to address the County’s need for additional emergency housing and service options. To that end, the 20 cabin temporary emergency housing in Grover Beach will be funded by CARES Act relief funds from the federal government.
In order to move forward with piloting this new temporary emergency housing model for the region, a temporary County ordinance was approved by the SLO County Board of Supervisors on September 28, 2021to establish minimum safety standards for any subject emergency housing facility located on County owned or leased public facilities. This ordinance serves as the mechanism that has allowed the installation and piloting of the temporary emergency housing on County property in Grover Beach where operations are planned to begin by early October, 2022.
What Makes This Temporary Emergency Housing in Grover Beach Different?
The new temporary emergency housing program in Grover Beach, also referred to as “Cabins for Change,” will pilot the use of modular cabins that have been placed on unused County-owned land located at 16th Street and Long Branch Avenue. This is a non-congregate housing model, which means that individuals will be housed in independent cabins rather than sleeping all together under one roof. With 24/7 support, wrap-around case management, and services providing nutrition, recovery and housing stabilization guidance, 5CHC's Cabins for Change program will help homeless individuals achieve long-term housing stability.
This non-congregate approach has three main benefits. It…
- Provides a new stable living environment in South County that fosters rest, recovery, and hope;
- Is more efficient, from a construction standpoint;
- Has added health benefits since individuals are less susceptible to airborne health challenges like COVID-19 which has limited access to and sometimes even shut down area congregate temporary shelters due to a spread of infection.
This temporary emergency housing pilot will provide a comprehensive system of care that incorporates both compassion and structured guidance via an intensive case-managed, limited-stay program on a restricted campus. It will also take advantage of County services provided on the same campus just hundreds of feet away. In other words, this can truly be a life-changing experience for those in need.
Check out Sergio’s story and how his experience in a similar program changed his life forever.
5CHC, the County of SLO and City of Grover Beach are committed to the safety and well-being of both the on-site clients and the surrounding neighborhoods. 5CHC, which has extensive experience working with individuals to become self-sufficient and productive community members. For example, in the last 12 months 5CHC has helped 200 households move into housing in San Luis Obispo County through its rapid re-housing program. Additionally 5CHC prevented eviction for more than 75 families, and relocated 18 families to communities where they had greater resources and family supports. 5CHC works with many community partners to make this work happen throughout San Luis Obispo county, and is grateful for this collaborative work.
5CHC will operate the Cabins for Change facility with 24-hour staffing and, while issues are not anticipated, is also collaborating closely with the Grover Beach Police Department in addition to implementing safety measures such as the use of curfews, security cameras and more.
How does this fit with the County's recently adopted 5-year Plan to Address Homelessness?
Cities across the country are struggling with the issue of homelessness. San Luis Obispo County is no exception and what we have learned through previous efforts is we need to do things differently. County staff has been working with various city leaders, non-profits and other civic organizations, as well as the unhoused and formerly unhoused to come up with a new approach. In August the County Board of Supervisors adopted a new 5-year Plan to Address Homelessness with a 5-0 vote. This video is an overview of the plan.
Has this method been used in other places?
This housing model has proven successful in assisting those experiencing homelessness in other communities across the Country and throughout California. We look forward to the opportunity to pilot this model and evaluate its results of transitioning individuals into permanent housing here in SLO County. However, it is important to recognize that this initiative is one of many needed to tackle homelessness throughout SLO County, and is just one great example of how success is driven by strong partnerships and willingness of communities, government, nonprofit organizations and many others.
This section will be updated as more resources become available.
SLO County BOS Meeting Materials
- September 28, 2021
- September 14, 2021
- May 4, 2021