PASO ROBLES, CA, August 6, 2020 – In order to respond to high fire risk conditions and to follow guidance for providing shelter to those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, the City is providing an emergency, temporary camping area with individual tents basic services, in hopes of relocating homeless individuals currently living in encampments in the Salinas riverbed to a safer, lower fire-hazard area in which security and basic services can be provided.
Paso Robles has experienced over 400 fires in the riverbed over the last three years, many due to cooking and warming fires. In addition, habitation in the riverbed has the potential to contaminate one of our major sources of water.
The outdoor camping area, located at 3501 North River Road, opened yesterday. The 20-space, expandable, camp will be equipped with individual tents and safe parking for those living in vehicles. The City of Paso Robles, in partnership with El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) and Paso Cares, will provide daily services at the site. In addition, private security will be provided to help foster a safe and welcoming environment.
The City is providing restrooms, trash service, hand washing stations, and showers. Paso Cares and ECHO are partnering to provide one meal per day onsite, seven days a week. Additionally, mental health and addiction services will be available.
The site, which is owned by the City and not currently in use, was chosen for its proximity to existing encampments, low cost, and availability. Input from service providers indicates that residents currently sheltering in the riverbed are more likely to relocate to an open and safe area if it is in close proximity to their current encampments.
“Paso Roblans have a proud history of providing a safe and nurturing quality of life for our residents,” says Julie Dahlen, Community Services Director for the City. “While the growing problem of homelessness is not unique to Paso Robles, it runs counter to these core values. The City’s immediate goal in providing this temporary camping area is to minimize fire danger for those residing in the riverbed and for the community as a whole. But it is just the first step in seeking long-term solutions to a complex social issue. The City looks forward to continued collaboration with Paso Cares and ECHO to make sustained progress in achieving our shared goal of successfully addressing homelessness in our community.”
The City continues to work closely with the County and ECHO on developing long-term plans for mitigating fire risk in the Salinas riverbed and long-term plans for the 200+ homeless individuals estimated to live in the Salinas riverbed, 74% of whom are SLO County natives, according to the most recent point-in-time count. A longer-term solution is anticipated sometime in 2021. Community input will be sought as part of that process.
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions about this project, click here.
In addition to the services provided by this collaboration, individuals and families experiencing homelessness can contact their local homeless continuum of care. In SLO County, they can also call 211 for help.
Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief