The two National Guard armories in Orange County will open their doors Monday to provide nighttime shelter for the homeless this winter.
The shelters provide up to 400 beds on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open each night at 6 p.m., and close each day at 6 a.m., when all people and belongings must be gone from the sites.
Families with small children will be enrolled in the Mercy House Family Redirection Program and offered shelter at a private, off-site location. When that service is not possible, families are given a separate area in the armories near staff and on-site security, according to Mercy House guidelines.
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The armories tend to slowly fill up at the start of the cold weather season, and generally get close to capacity as winter goes on. With heavy rains predicted from an anticipated El Niño weather system, other emergency shelter plans are being discussed by public officials and service providers.
Occasionally, the armories are closed on "dark nights" when the National Guard conducts drills or training. On those nights, alternate shelter sites are used instead.
The program also provides nutritious meals at dinnertime and for breakfast, a warm shower and donations of warm clothing and other basic needs items.
Mental health services, legal services, referrals for veterans, HIV testing, as well as other services are also provided.
Last year, the program provided 2,077 different people with beds with help from 1,797 volunteers, for a total of 44,032 bed nights.
Free transportation to the shelters is provided from three locations:
N. La Palma Park Way & Harbor, Anaheim
On North La Palma Park Way between Harbor and Homer (Northwest Side of Park)
Flower & Civic Center - near 6th Street, Santa Ana
1901 W. Walnut, Santa Ana
Information on how to donate to the program or volunteer can be found on the Mercy House website, located here.
There is also a wish list for the armories, including warm clothing, hygiene supplies, food and gift certificates.
For more information, contact Lauren Celaya, Community Resource Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org (714) 836-7188, extension 128.