Months before the topic of homelessness came to dominate speeches by California’s governor, the city of Paso Robles moved forward with building a brand new homeless shelter. Located near the city’s water treatment plant, it will be called the First Step Homeless Services Center, and it will be run by ECHO, or the El Camino Homeless Organization.
“The Paso Robles city council and Tom Fruchty—before it was in the headlines every day—they determined last year that this was the way to gon to build their shelter,” said Jeff Al-Mashat, ECHO’s Homeless Services Director for Paso Robles. ECHO currently runs a 24-hour-a-day shelter in Atascadero, serves meals to the North County community and helps people find homes and supportive services.
And soon, at least for part of the year at first, there will be 36 shelter beds available nightly in Paso Robles.
“We will be open every night for dinner throughout the year, and then right now, because of funding, we're planning to be open six months during the winter months,” said Al-Mashat.
The goal for the Paso shelter—expected to be open by mid-2021—is to get funding in the future to be open every night of the year.
“What we're trying to do is we want to provide people food and shelter, but ECHO’s goal is really to provide wraparound services so that we can help people move out of their homelessness,” Al-Mashat said.
ECHO is hosting a series of community forums to engage with the Paso Robles community, starting on Feb. 26. Al-Mashat says it’s a chance for the ECHO staff to introduce themselves and get discussions going about “questions people might have, concerns they might have.”
“We're certainly looking for volunteers, and we have some sponsorship opportunities,” Al-Mashat said. “So it's really just an opportunity for us to get to know the community a little bit, and let them know that we're here to have discussions as they want to learn more.”
The first community forum on the coming homeless shelter in Paso Robles is taking place on Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Paso Robles City Hall.