'We Are Taking People Out of the Park, Off the Street': Walnut Creek's National Guard Armory to Become Homeless Shelter | NBC Bay Area
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'We Are Taking People Out of the Park, Off the Street': Walnut Creek's National Guard Armory to Become Homeless Shelter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Walnut Creek is turning to a controversial new shelter to try and deal with the city's growing homeless problem. Elyce Kirchner reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 30, 2015)

    Walnut Creek is turning to a controversial new shelter to try and deal with the city's growing homeless problem.

    The city, which has shot down the plan to house homeless overnight many times before, plans to use for the first time its National Guard Armory as a shelter. The armor sits a few blocks from the downtown core.

    "They are already here so what we are doing is we are taking people out of the park, off the street," said Donna Colombo, executive director for the city's Trinity Center. "We are making it safer. We are working with people.

    The Trinity Center will run the shelter at the Armory. Homeless will stay at the Trinity Center during the day and will be bused to the Armory at night, officials said.

    Colombo said the 30 people allowed in will register, undergo medical and mental exams, and must be clean and sober.

    "Walnut Creek is becoming an urban center," Colombo said. "So with all the good things that tremendous growth brings to us more shops, more restaurants, it also displaces people."

    Zach is one of those who have been displaced and has been homeless for several years.

    "I was excited about it," Zach said of the shelter. "Really excited about it.

    Zach said he believes the overnight shelter will help address a growing problem.

    "People trying to get their life together, and this gives people a better chance to do that," he said.

    Meanwhile, residents who live near the Armory have raised concerns, including vandalism, over the shelter.

    The shelter has hired security guards to accompany the homeless bused in to the armory. The guards and Trinity staffers will there throughout the night and hope that will ease some of the community's concerns.

    The shelter at the Armory opens in December will remain open for three months.

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