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New shelter for unhoused SLO County residents works to find them permanent housing

Images provided by a local artist are plastered across 5CHC's cabins for the unhoused.
Gabriela Fernandez
Images provided by a local artist are plastered across 5CHC's cabins for the unhoused.

The non-profit 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, or 5CHC, is opening their new temporary emergency shelter in south SLO County today. Its goal is to help unhoused residents in SLO County find permanent housing.

Janna Nichols is the Executive Director for 5CHC. She said the non-profit has been working towards today’s grand opening for a long time.

“We've got 20 residential cabins and community building and a couple of case management offices,” Nichols said.

The shelter has 23 cabins: 20 for residents, two for case managers and one dining hall. Nichols says each residential cabin is about 100 square feet, will not be a shared space and comes with a smoke detector, fire extinguisher, emergency exit, air conditioner and heater.

Plastered outside each space are images of different California beaches.

“The symbolism of the beaches, you know people go to the beach to decompress and meditate, do some introspection and really that's what we're hoping people do is to just pause, not worry about the immediate crisis,” Nichols said.

The inside of a cabin from the 5CHC shelter.
Gabriela Fernandez
The inside of a cabin from the 5CHC shelter.

She said she wants to make residents feel at home during their stay.

“We're hoping to create this very warm and welcoming environment to help them see that there is a path forward,” Nichols said.

To qualify as a resident, Nichols said participants must work with case management on whatever obstacles they’re facing, whether it's income or health.

Nichols acknowledged that people who live near these kinds of developments often have concerns like potential increase in noise and crime. But, she said the site has cameras, a single entrance and staff on site to make sure this doesn’t happen.

“People are going to come and go, but it's going to be the same people every day coming and going. It's not going to be a random group of people coming to hang out and so I think that gives some assurance to the community,” Nichols said.

According to SLO County's Point-In-Time count, there are currently about 1400 people experiencing homelessness in the county.

The 5CHC shelter in Grover Beach is now open to unhoused SLO County residents. To learn more about their waitlist, visit 5CHC.org.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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