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How one South Coast city is preparing to help the homeless in winter months

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City of Ventura
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Colder weather creates questions about what Central and South Coast communities can do to help the unhoused.

As temperatures get colder, the City of Ventura is preparing a winter response plan for unhoused individuals – providing temporary shelter and warm packs.

Rebecca Kofman, the Interim Safe and Clean Program manager, says the plan will be active if temperatures are forecast below 40 degrees or for more than half an inch of overnight rain.

The Winter Weather Response Plan is co-sponsored by the City and the River Community Church and provides stay warm packs and temporary shelter to homeless persons during severe weather events, such as severe rain, wind or low temperatures. The program starts December 1 and runs through March 31, 2022.

“This is the second year the City’s Safe & Clean Program has partnered with local social service providers and nonprofits to provide outreach and support to our most vulnerable population,” said Kofman. “I’m excited to continue with another successful year."

The City is accepting community donations to create 'stay warm packs' for Ventura’s unhoused individuals during harsh weather events. Needed donations include rain ponchos, blankets, jackets, hand-warmers, socks, toiletries, soft snacks, tarps, and carrying bags for items.

People interested in donating can bring materials to the River Community Church, located at 859 E. Santa Clara Street.

Monetary donations are also being accepted by mail. Checks should be labeled “Foul Weather” and mailed to 859 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura, CA, 93001.

The City’s Winter Weather Response Plan also includes an emergency temporary shelter that can accommodate motel rooms for up to 20 individuals. Shelters will be activated at least 48 hours in advance when temperatures are projected to fall below 40 degrees or if weather projections show more than half an inch of rain overnight.

Priority will be given to homeless individuals who are 65 and older or live with chronic health conditions. All remaining motel rooms will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Individuals who receive a room must arrive at the River Community Church between 5p.m. and 6p.m. on the day of the weather event. Those who are unable to secure a room will receive stay warm packs.

To learn more about the Winter Weather Response Plan, please visit the City of Ventura’s Safe and Clean Program website at www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/SafeandClean