By Nancy Needham
Many of Ventura County's homeless find comfort in the warm, dry places open to them for sleeping overnight. Most shelters offer food--a hot meal for dinner, sometimes a pastry or bagel for breakfast and sack lunches for the road. Some facilities have showers. All depend on volunteers. Sometimes volunteers come forward to offer entertainment during dinner--a youth group singing, a bell choir. Or, more practical volunteers give free haircuts. Clothes and toiletries are donated. Each shelter is an opportunity for those with compassion to help men, women and children in need.
Some people find shelter rules too hard to follow and so they live on the street even in cold, rainy weather. For instance. no pets are allowed and some do not want to be separated from their furry companions. But the rules are meant to keep the shelters safe.
Children and adults who sleep in a shelter must show proof of a recent, within 60 days, clear TB test before they will be allowed in a shelter. It's the law. Ventura County Public Health Clinics will provide free TB tests to shelter users. Anyone intoxicated or behaving in a disorderly manner will not be allowed inside any shelter site.
Some shelters, such as the one at the Oxnard Armory, require a one time intake interview and a photo taken upon entry. Shelter I.D. cards are issued. Toiletries and a change of clothes are only allowed when brought inside in a clear plastic bag provided. There is limited, unsecured space for overnight storage of personal items.
Here is a List of Homeless Shelters available in Ventura County (courtesy of County of Ventura Human Services Agency) (Info current as of Sept 2012 and subject to change)
West County Winter Shelter is open from December 1 to March 31 (funds permitting) at locations that can vary from year to year. Call 805.385.1800 for specific location. Families and singles welcome. Hot meals and place to sleep provided beginning at 6 p.m., dinner 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Our Place Shelter, 538 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura, operated by Turning Point Foundation is open year round. Serves homeless mentally ill/single men and women with place to sleep, showers, meals, laundry facilities, mail and phone and case management. Capacity is 10. There is a waiting list. Call 805.652.2151.
Ventura County Rescue Mission, 234 E. 6th Street, Oxnard open year provides place to sleep, hot meal, shower for up to 60 single men for up to 10 consecutive nights. Check-in at 5 p.m. Call 805.487.1234.
Lighthouse Womens & Childrens Mission--Emergency Shelter, 104 N. Hayes, Oxnard, operated by The Rescue Mission Alliance year round. Serves single women, mothers with children (boys up to 10 years old). Provides a place to sleep, hot meals and shower. Capacity for 24. Call 805.385.7200.
Simi Valley P.A.D.S. has rotating meal sites year round and overnight sleep sites from November 1 to March 31 Overnight shelter sites open at 7:45 p.m. with a capacity that varies by site from 30 to 40 people. For dinner sites and other information, call 805.579.9166 Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. only.
Sunday: Knights of Columbus, 1255 Patricia Avenue
Dinner sites by the Samaritan Center of Simi Valley as of Sept 2012 are summed up at thesamaritancenterofsimivalley.org/#/services/dinner-sites. or call 805.579.9166 for details.
Ojai Valley Family Shelter has rotating Church sites with 6 p.m. check in from December 1 to March 31 to serve Ojai residents hot meals, a place to sleep and showers. Up to 25-30 singles and families are welcome. Call 805.804.7094.
Friday: Ojai Valley Grange Hall, 381 Cruzero, Mira Monte
Conejo Valley Winter Shelter locations are open from December 1 to March 31 for families first and working singles next. Each provides a place to sleep, hot meals, breakfast and a sack lunch for 25 to 30 people. Check in begins at 5:45 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Call 805.497.6207. Showers are available on Wednesday. CLICK HERE for specific locations.
Lutheran Family Services of Ventura County, based out of Thousand Oaks, may have additional resources for meals (not shelter). They can be reached at www.lsssc.org or 805.497.6207.