This Redlands church offers homeless women a safe, warm place after cold weather shelter closure

The Center for Spiritual Living, seen here on Jan. 30, 2019, in Redlands opened its doors to homeless women this winter when the city’s only cold weather shelter was closed due to code violations earlier this month. Organizers hope to keep it open through March 31. (Jennifer Iyer, Redlands Daily Facts/SCNG)

By Jennifer Iyer | | Redlands Daily Facts
PUBLISHED: January 30, 2019 at 3:08 pm | UPDATED: February 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

About 10 homeless women won’t have to spend frigid, dangerous nights on the streets this winter in Redlands after the cold weather shelter closed due to code violations.

After the facility at Set Free Church shut down in the rain on Jan. 16, advocates scrambled to find solutions. A shelter, for the women at least, has since been established at the Center for Spiritual Living, but this one, too, could close, if not enough volunteers step forward.

“If I don’t have a female per shift, then it won’t open,” said Rick Ferguson, the cold weather shelter program manager for the Redlands Charitable Resources Coalition.

Nights are broken into two shifts, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m.

It’s the early morning shift that is hardest to fill, Ferguson said, “because people work, and people aren’t used to staying awake for that period. It’s one that we struggle with getting people, but so far we’re holding.”

There is also usually a male volunteer on duty for each shift.

Those interested in volunteering at the shelter may contact Ferguson at 909-362-2819 by voice or text or email, and should provide a cell phone number and email address.

In addition, there is a need for toilet paper, paper plates, coffee and coffee cups.

The shelter opens at 7 p.m. each night, and a light snack is served as the women arrive. In the morning volunteers make coffee and put out pastries. The plan is to have the shelter open nightly through March 31.

Ferguson said it’s vital to offer homeless women a place where they’re protected.

“It’s the only place where women can get off the street where they don’t have to worry about any type of violence or predators out there,” he said. “It’s the only place available, and that’s why we’re trying to make sure we’re able to continue this, and give them the option to get off the street.”

The public can learn more about homelessness in Redlands by attending the upcoming homeless forums at the University of Redlands, he said.

Topics include “Cities in Crisis, What is Being Done, Where Do We Go from Here?” on Jan 31, homelessness and mental health issues on Feb. 7, employability and other services on Feb. 21 and housing on March 7.

All forums will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Casa Loma Room at the university, 1200 E. Colton Ave.

Following the forums, a city-wide summit is set for April which will then lead to recommendations to the City Council, likely in May.

“We want the pros and we want the cons, because we want to be educated, and we want everybody to be educated from the professionals that we’re bringing in (to speak),” Ferguson said. “If the citizens out there have great ideas, we all need to hear them.”

Original Article | Donate to the Women’s Shelter