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Local unhoused community takes shelter in libraries, 40 Prado during rainstorm

Unhoused community members shelter at 40 Prado during a winter rain storm
Rachel Showalter
Unhoused community members shelter at 40 Prado during a winter rain storm

The Central Coast saw heavy rains last week and over the weekend. Officials urged some to stay indoors and shelter in place amid flood advisories, road closures and debris flow warnings.

With hundreds of people living unsheltered in San Luis Obispo, Coastal Regional Librarian, Aracelli Astorga, said places like the San Luis Obispo County Public Library offer a place for people to stay dry.

“Everyone is welcome," Astorga said. "We don’t turn folks away.”

She said anyone is invited to come inside during open hours Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The library has free wifi, charging stations, hotspots and restrooms available. Astorga said the library sees a lot of familiar faces from the unhoused community.

“There’s folks that we see everyday and we’ll see them here for many hours at a time,” Astorga said.

But San Luis Obispo’s library closes at 5 p.m. and also closes for the holidays.

Jared Erb is the homeless services manager at 40 Prado Homeless Services Center in San Luis Obispo, which is open 24/7. He said, during a storm, people can go there to get out of the rain.

“It’s pretty important because a lot of our people — they do camp in the creeks — and we had a year, about 2 years ago, where some people came in soaking wet saying that their camp actually got washed away. They were washed away in the creek,” Erb said.

40 Prado has room for 110 people in the dorms. But Erb said they increase capacity to 120 and welcome an additional 15 people to sleep in their dining room when the temperature drops below 38 degrees or there is at least a 50 percent chance of rain.

Erb said 40 Prado typically nears capacity on stormy days. He said they haven’t had to turn people away yet but if they get too full, the shelter has bus passes available to get people to other warming shelters in North or South San Luis Obispo County.

Erb said the shelter is always accepting donations for things like blankets, sleeping bags and tents.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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