Nonprofit floating idea of outdoor shelters for homeless as it seeks permit renewal

Nonprofit floating idea of outdoor shelters for homeless as it seeks permit renewal

Clients at Well in the Desert find respite from the desert climate, food, and clothing at the organization’s Palm Springs facility.

As city leaders and others grapple with a rise in the homeless population, one local community service organization is asking the public to make their job a little easier while also exploring overnight shelter options.

Well in the Desert, a Palm Springs nonprofit that provides clothing, showers and a cooling center seven days a week, in addition to hot meals five days a week, is soliciting support for renewal of their conditional use permit to provide some of its services at its downtown location on South Calle Encilla. But they would prefer not to have to go through the process every six months.

“We have asked that we not be subjected to (conditional use permits) every six months,” they posted on Facebook Tuesday. “It would be hard to believe any one of the City Council would vote no, as we are the only organization in town who provides everything but overnight sleeping.”

The most pressing issue, they said, is renewal and expansion of the current permit.

“We are asking you to send a letter of support to the City in favor of a continuance of our CUP, and the changes we have requested— clothes racks by our courtyard so people can get clothes, a smoking section out in back, not seen by the public, (a)nd a tent we could put up out in back when one of the churches we work with (Hope Lutheran) comes for Bingo,” organizers wrote. “We already have the clothes, and smoking area, (we are) just asking to make it legal and sanctioned by the City.”

Discussion of the ongoing need for the permit is on the Council agenda tonight. The permit is scheduled for a public hearing and vote March 25. In the meantime, the organization is working with a manufacturer on a plan to publicly display possible temporary shelters to generate support. A date and time for the display has not been finalized.

“A couple of our wonderful Board members, along with some prominent city business owners and community activists decided to take on the problem of our rising numbers of those who sleep outside and on the streets nightly, in the worst of conditions, and those who are making it difficult for business owners,” the group wrote. “… We believe we have some strong possibilities for having people have security at night and, though not permanent housing, can answer many of our shared woes.  We are hoping to be able to release information in about a month.  We are HOPEFUL, and active.”


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BRIEFLY

FOOD BASKETS: Free food baskets from FIND Food Bank will be available today from 4-6 PM at the James O. Jessie Desert Highlands Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd. The food distribution is part of FIND’s ongoing efforts in the community to distribute free healthy foods to support the creation of healthy meals for individuals and families.  No appointment is needed.

TODAY’S MEETINGS

  • “Read-To-Me Story Time” is presented by the city library on YouTube and Facebook today from 10-11 AM.
  • Book Club: The library’s “Cover to Cover Book Club” meets via Zoom today at 2 PM. Information on the book they will discuss and how to join can be found here.

City Council: The City Council holds its regular meeting at 5:30 PM via Zoom, broadcasting online via the city website, YouTube and on Channel 17 (Spectrum). Information on how to submit public comment is here. Topics on the agenda this evening include:

  • An ordinance establishing “Hero Pay” that would see a temporary increase in hourly wages for some frontline workers, including those at some grocery stores
  • Discussion of how the city is working to address the homeless population. City staff were asked last month to update the Council after Police Chief Bryan Reyes announced that Riverside County was dropping off recently-released prisoners at a city hotel to quarantine from COVID-19. Many of those released prisoners were ending up on city streets. That staff report is here
  • An update on the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program
  • Refinancing bonds first issues in 2012 that could save the city $4.4 million in interest payments

COVID VACCINES: If you qualify for a vaccine you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 8 AM-5 PM today, and all week through Friday. Appointments can be reserved online at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Find community providers such as pharmacies here.

TRAFFIC BOX ART: Neighbors in Desert Highlands Gateway Estates are being encouraged to vote on proposed designs for area traffic boxes to be painted under a city program titled “Stop in the Name of Love Traffic Box Project.” Two boxes in the neighborhood will be painted. To see the proposed designs, turn here. To vote on the designs, turn here. Voting ends March 14.


HELP FOR FOOD SAMARITANS

During this entire month, 20 percent of net USPS, UPS, and FedEx transactions at Postal Palm Springs will be donated to AAP – Food Samaritans. This is the first promotion of its kind to be arranged for the local nonprofit dedicated to providing nutritional support to improve the quality of the lives of low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.


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