Sunday, February 26, 2017

Five Connected, Industrial-Style Trailers Used As Church-Operated Homeless Shelter For 20 Years Declared Unsafe, Suffer City Shutdown; Nearly Two Dozen Occupants Get The Boot As Stricter Municipal Code Enforcement Triggered By Deadly Oakland Warehouse Fire Continues

In Buena Park, California, The Orange County Register reports:
  • About a dozen homeless people living in a shelter at First Southern Baptist Church vacated the building Thursday morning [February 9] after city officials declared it unsafe to occupy.

    Police officers, city code-enforcement officers and representatives from City Net, a city consultant for homeless outreach, were at the church at 8 a.m. Thursday taping red tags onto the temporary structure that has been a shelter for about 20 years.

    Wiley Drake, the church’s longtime pastor, stood by, streaming video with his cellphone. He said the city was invading his church’s property and the privacy rights of the homeless.

    At 9 a.m., some men moved their clothes, books and blankets into a hall on the lot. About two hours later, a crew began boarding up the shelter’s doors and windows.

    The city last year found several health, fire and occupancy violations at the building, which is five industrial-style trailers connected.
    City Net case managers in recent months have worked with the church’s homeless. Nearly a dozen chose to relocate after Buena Park officials on Jan. 30 revoked the shelter’s temporary occupancy permit. A dozen others remained. The city provided men and women storage bins for their things, locked in a trailer on the street, accessible by appointment or by contacting an official.

    Drake, 73, said those who slept in the shelter overnight were “devastated” by the building’s shuttering.

    “They’re in shock,” he said.

    Councilwoman Virginia Vaughn said the Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 in December “shed a lot of light on sometimes looking the other way isn’t the best thing to do for everybody.

    “Our first and foremost responsibility is the safety of the residents,” the councilwoman said. “It really has been a group effort to go in there as calmly and as professionally and as caring as possible. Really, that’s what it’s all about.”

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