The Warming Center hosted a celebration for the success of the new permanent location of its storage program at 150 Felker St. on Nov. 3, after running the program out of a converted shuttle bus for three months. The program currently serves about 150 houseless residents of the Santa Cruz community, with about 20 coming to and from the new facility on a daily basis.
The program began on June 1 as a mobile storage unit that would pick up and drop off belongings at morning and at night in the parking lot behind Wheelworks. near the Kaiser Permanente Arena.
“The storage program, at its heart, is meant to reduce the difficulty of street homelessness […],” said houseless advocate and Warming Center founder and director Brent Adams.
Without having to lug around all of their belongings on a daily basis, houseless people can more easily access services throughout the city in addition to getting a boost to overall quality of life.
After two months, Adams received notice from the city attorney’s office to cease and desist operations within the parking lot. Though Adams had been trying to get in contact with the city since before the storage program began, that notice ultimately led to a meeting in August between the Warming Center and the city. They subsequently reached an agreement to give the Warming Center two months to find a new, permanent location.
Houseless residents have given Adams overwhelmingly positive feedback, he said. He described multiple instances when a houseless person was moved to tears by being unburdened of carrying around their belongings for the first time in years.
“It’s been an amazing success, we have a lot of people using the program […],” Adams said. “We’re quite proud of it.”