90.1 FM San Luis Obispo | 91.7 FM Paso Robles | 91.1 FM Cayucos | 95.1 FM Lompoc | 90.9 FM Avila
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Renovations and upgrades complete at ECHO’s Atascadero transitional homeless shelter

Angel Russell

A church in Atascadero that was converted into a transitional homeless shelter a few years ago recently got a much-needed upgrade.

Wendy Lewis is president and CEO of El Camino Homeless Organization, also known as ECHO. She said prior to the modern look and feel of the separated rooms, soft lighting, and vinyl floors, the building was a bit rough on the eyes.

“The floors here used to be from the 1970s," Lewis said. "And it just did not feel like we wanted it to feel.”

Through a partnership with People’s Self-Help Housing, ECHO was able to complete Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, repaint the building, and add more privacy and bed space.

Lewis said prior to the transformation, individuals slept in a large room that had curtains to separate spaces.

Now, there are more private living spaces, more rooms for families and a common area for computer and entertainment use.

It’s not the typical shelter people may envision, Lewis said.

“I often have people imagine that shelter of a big open space with just bed after bed," Lewis said. "And not like this home-like environment that we really strived to provide.”

Another big upgrade is the kitchen. What was once a small outdated church kitchen, has now been replaced with a full commercial-sized kitchen and large dining space.

Lewis said they plan to use the kitchen to help people gain skills for the food industry.

“So we would be able to provide restaurant training right out of this facility here," Lewis said. "To not only help the people we serve, but people that just need that next level of employment, so it would be open to the public.”

While ECHO’s project is done at the Atascadero shelter, it’s on to the next as plans to do something similar to the new shelter in Paso Robles are underway. The shelter in Paso was once a Motel 6.

“Right now it’s kind of an asphalt jungle," Lewis said. "And hopefully in about a year that will all be changed.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
Related Content
  • Officials in Hollywood, Fla., have long battled a controversial homeless advocate. Now they've bought his shelter — and made a deal for him and the homeless people who stayed there to go elsewhere.
  • In case you haven't heard, it's really cold in the Northeast. As temperatures plunge, the need for homeless shelters goes up. In Massachusetts this increase in demand coincides with budget cuts imposed because of a state fiscal crisis. Monica Brady-Myerov of member station WBUR reports.