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City to Close Temporary River Street Homeless Camp

Post Date:10/22/2018


Contact: Eileen Cross, Community Relations Specialist, 831.676.7090 


Santa Cruz (October 16, 2018) – The City of Santa Cruz announced today that it will close the temporary River Street Camp on November 30, in tandem with the November opening of the Winter Shelter at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 7263 post in Live Oak. 

The City opened the temporary homeless camp on River Street in March, in response to a significant number of unsheltered individuals living in Santa Cruz County. The camp was originally scheduled for closure in June, at which time the City planned to transition campers to another site. However efforts to secure another suitable site stalled in response to community opposition to proposed locations and the Camp was temporarily extended. Upon closure of the camp, all camp residents will be offered a space at the Winter Shelter Program, which provides shelter from the elements in a permanent structure rather than tents. 

California as a whole has experienced a significant increase in homelessness. In response to increased needs, the State has made funding available through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) and California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program (CESH) to provide shelter and programs to address both the causes and needs of homeless individuals. Locally, the Homeless Action Partnership (HAP) made up of Watsonville, Capitola, Scotts Valley and both the City and County of Santa Cruz, is scheduled to receive over $10 million in grants in early 2019 which will enable a more regional approach to meeting community needs around homelessness. “Our goal has always been to move toward providing year-round shelter in an enclosed structure,” said Martín Bernal, Santa Cruz City Manager, “with funding now available from the State, the many homeless service providers in the county can work together on bigger picture, regional solutions.” 

The Winter Shelter Program will open at the VFW on 7th Avenue with 60 beds beginning November 15. The River Street Camp, which currently provides tent space for approximately 50, will fully close November 30. In addition to shelter beds at the VFW, the City and County will provide funding to maintain 40 shelter beds at the Paul Lee Loft at the Homeless Services Center. Over the next several weeks, the HAP will continue to fully explore the expansion of existing shelter capacity and day services to maximize support for our community members experiencing homelessness.  

The City of Santa Cruz is the county seat and largest city in Santa Cruz County. The City serves over 63,000 residents with full services including police, utility, waste, recreation, and library programs. Santa Cruz is a Charter City governed by a seven-member Council. 



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