By Deb Murphy

Brett Newman, with Calvary Baptist Church, Douglas Cooper and Tom Downey addressed the Bishop City Council several weeks ago, asking for a discussion on homelessness, specifically the possibility of a winter shelter.

The City responded Monday with a presentation by Elaine Kabala, associate planner. Kabala focused on a directory of services provided by Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action, one of the partners in the tri-valley Consortium of Care.

Under housing services, emergency shelter can be provided with hotel/motel vouchers, when available, through Calvary Baptist Church, Crossroads Church, Inyo County’s Wellness Center, Presbyterian Church and the Salvation Army. Wild Iris provides safe housing for survivors of domestic violence.

According to Kabala, “the demand for shelter exceeds the resources.”

IMACA Director Charles Broten explained the organization’s focus is on families with programs for homeless prevention, rapid-rehousing and placement in affordable housing. “We can’t help if the person has no income,” he said, adding that next year there may be more funding for emergency shelters.

Roughly half of those who have sought help from IMACA have underlying problems—mental health issues, chronic health problems or substance abuse. The County’s Health and Human Services department provides services in those areas.

Members of the public, some who are or were homeless, stepped forward, pointing out that homeless campers in the valley were being rousted and the lack of housing for those trying to work their way out of homelessness.

Downey made a plea for help. “I’ve had hardships,” he said, “but I’m not a beggar.”
“There are gaps” in services, said Mayor Laura Smith. “But I believe the gaps will be filled.”

How to fill them is the question.

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