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'Pallet' shelters could be coming to Grover Beach to address homelessness crisis

Five Cities Homeless Coalition

Personal, tiny-home-style shelter units built for individuals experiencing homelessness may be coming to Grover Beach — if the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approves the one-year pilot program next week.

It would be the first temporary shelter project of its kind in SLO County if approved. Jana Nichols, executive director for Five Cities Homeless Coalition, said they are proposing to install 20 small sleeping cabins, also called “pallet houses” on county-owned property on South 16th Street in Grover Beach. 

“So we’ve been looking at this model for awhile," Nichols said. "This is really a model we can work with, and will be very successful and well-received in the community.”

Nichols said the plan is for each cabin to house up to two individuals for up to a 90-day program. While people are living at the temporary shelter, they will be provided case management to address whatever their challenges may be that left them living on the streets.

“The intent of the program is to help folks get off the street, get sheltered, get focused and get them into housing,” Nichols said.

While businesses and residents may object to the pilot program idea, Nichols said they have a plan for security and safety measures to ensure this shelter doesn’t become a troubling area for the surrounding neighborhood. 

“The facility is going to be fenced with restrictive access," Nichols said. "We will have staff on site 24/7, we will have video monitoring.”

There are currently no shelters available in South County, so Nichols said the site would fill a desperate need. Homelessness in SLO County has grown by 22 percent in the past five years, and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. 

“This is a new piece to the spectrum," Nichols said. "But we have a long ways to go in terms of really making an impact. While I’m very optimistic about this program, I certainly know we have a lot more work to be done.”

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve the installation as a one-year pilot program, with the option of extending the deadline if it proves successful.

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