Update: The Eureka City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to add a retail building across the street from the Betty Kwan Chinn day center to its 2016 Shelter Crisis Declaration, paving the way for its conversion into a temporary shelter for women and families.
Before the shelter opens, the Betty Chinn Foundation must add another restroom and shower to the building. The foundation also has to change the entrance of the building to its C Street side, directly across the street from the foundation’s existing day center so as not to disturb other businesses on Seventh Street.
Chinn says she has to talk to her partners about funding before starting the renovations, adding that as of right now she doesn’t have enough money to proceed with the renovations.
Chinn and the city of Eureka are hoping the shelter opens next month, so families who impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can have a safe place to stay.
Those in need of shelter can contact the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center at 407-3833.
To make a donation to the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation, visit the website here to donate online or mail a check to Betty Chinn’s Homeless Fund, P.O. Box 736, Eureka, CA 95502.
The retail building would be converted into a shelter to allow for “20 people in one bedroom assignments,” according to the staff report, and will be operated by the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation.
Betty Chinn told the Journal that there are quite a few people who have come to her center looking for shelter as they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have nowhere else to go. The new building, she said, would allow them to help people needing a place to stay.
“During this time, people need a safe place to stay, a safe place to be quarantined,” Chinn says. “I want to protect people as best as I can.”
Chinn says that her shelters take serious precautions when it comes to taking in new clients. She says that new residents for her shelters are quarantined for 14 days before they are able to roam the grounds freely, and that she also takes resident’s and staff’s temperature twice daily. If the new shelter is approved, she says she will be taking the same precautions there.
Clients would be able to stay in the shelter as long as they need to get back on their feet, she adds.
“The goal is for them to find permanent housing,” Chinn says. “So they will be able to stay for as long as they need to, to save money and learn to budget themselves for permanent housing.”
If approved by the council, the building will be converted “as soon as possible,” Chinn says adding that she hopes to open the shelter by May 1.
“[The building] is across the street from the day center so it will be easy,” she says. “If it doesn’t, I have to find a new building and new partners. I just hope this goes through.”
The Eureka City Council is also looking to adopt a COVID-19 Assistance Fund Grant Program that will allocate $50,000 in grants to Homeless Service Providers and $200,000 to support mortgage and rent assistance to households who are at 80 percent of area median income (those below 50 percent will be prioritized, the staff report states).
The Eureka City Council meeting will be held April 21, 2020, at 6 p.m. For more agenda items or to watch the virtual meeting remotely, visit the city website here.