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224-person homeless shelter in Anaheim debuts Thursday

Homeless people who sleep in the streets, parks and other outdoor spots around Anaheim will have a safer place to rest and find other services at a shelter the city is opening to accommodate up to 224 people.

Shelter residents are expected to begin moving in Friday, Feb. 1, to the newly christened Anaheim Emergency Shelter that the Salvation Army Orange County has been contracted to operate near its Adult Rehabilitation Center on South Lewis Street.



A ribbon cutting was scheduled for Thursday to introduce local dignitaries and others in the community to the new $13.1 million shelter set on 1.7 acres at 1455 S. Salvation Place.

The first small group of about a half-dozen “guests,” as the Salvation Army refers to the shelter residents, will migrate from the interim emergency shelter that the city fast-tracked in December inside an empty warehouse near Angel Stadium. Six to 10 people are expected to be moved in daily after that.

The goal is to give people a safe place and assistance to find what they need to help rebuild their lives — housing, employment or recovery from substance abuse.

There will be no set time limit for how long someone can stay while they progress toward independence, said Renay K. Panoncialman, the Salvation Army’s director of social services for Orange County.


Unlike other existing and planned shelters in Orange County, Anaheim Emergency Shelter has an open-campus style design.

Freestanding modular units can house up to 20 individuals each or, in the case of couples, up to 10 adults. The units rest on decomposed granite, dotted with shade trees in containers donated through the city’s TreePower Program.

Restrooms, showers and a laundry facility are all housed in separate units; a dining area, lounge and meeting space share a triple-wide module.

Pets will be allowed, with a dog run created for exercise and volunteer veterinary services planned, along with dog training.

A recreation area for the residents will include picnic tables and outdoor games such as corn hole bean bag toss.

A hot breakfast and dinner, along with a sack lunch for those who desire one, will be provided by the nearby rehabilitation center’s kitchen services.

Time to engage

Rosie Littlejohn, program manager of homeless services in Orange County for the Salvation Army, will oversee operation of the shelter.

Littlejohn, 43, said she spent a year on the streets. An addiction to methamphetamine in her early 30s led to losing a good job and damaging relationships with her daughter and other relatives.

It ended with her being jailed, after which Littlejohn says she turned her life around through the Salvation Army’s programs.

Littlejohn knows it may take time for people to engage in services: “They may not want anything when they first get here. But we’ll be that constant in their lives, walking along beside them.”

Access to the Salvation Army shelter will be restricted to homeless people on the streets of Anaheim who are referred by City Net, an organization that does homeless outreach, Anaheim Police officers, Orange County Health Care Agency, or the Salvation Army.

No walk-ups will be allowed. But homeless people can reach out online for a referral through the city-operated

Long term planning

City officials see Anaheim Emergency Shelter as key to providing better services to homeless people and addressing health and safety concerns raised by residents and merchants over the street homeless population.

The facility is intended as a temporary shelter, along with a 101-bed facility expected to open in a few weeks inside what was a piano warehouse across from the Bridges at Kraemer Place transitional shelter near the 91 freeway.

Longer-term plans call for a comprehensive, 600-bed transitional housing complex called Center of Hope that the Salvation Army proposes to have up and running at its Lewis Street property by 2021.

It’s anticipated that the Anaheim Way interim shelter at State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue will close in mid-March.

Opened in a matter of weeks in late December to provide short-term relief in the cold and rain of winter, Anaheim Way soon filled to capacity as the city enforced anti-camping ordinances near several city parks.

Unsanitary issues with plumbing — backed-up toilets that overflowed onto the concrete floor inside the shelter, water that seeped from the indoor portable showers — have since been abated.

Source: Orange County Register

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