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Aussie officers part of homelessness solution in California

Aussie officers part of homelessness solution in California

Aussie officers part of homelessness solution in California

Australian Salvation Army Officers, Captains Cheryl and Nesan Kistan have been part of the opening of a 224-bed temporary homeless shelter in Anaheim, southern California, where they are currently serving.

By Hillary Jackson

Australian Salvation Army officers Captain Cheryl and Nesan Kistan have officially opened a temporary homelessness shelter in Orange County, Southern California, which is stage one of a large-scale Salvation Army response to combatting the issue.

As well as being the Corps Officers of Tustin Ranch Corps, Cheryl and Nesan hold the titles of Orange County Coordinators, County Coordinator [Cheryl] and Divisional Secretary of Orange County [Nesan].

The temporary shelter is a response to the homeless “emergency” in the city of Anaheim, and the start of The Salvation Army’s proposed response to further combat homelessness in Orange County through its forthcoming Centre of Hope campus.

In 2017, the Orange County Register reported homelessness in Orange County rose nearly eight per cent since the last census taken two years prior. The report shows 4792 people experiencing homelessness were living in the county, with more than half living without shelter. The same year, 193 of those people died while on the streets – marking the second deadliest year on record.

The ribbon cutting ceremony officially opens the temporary shelter.

For Nesan, the cause is personal. He was homeless in Sydney 30 years ago when his parents fled political oppression in South Africa. When his family were down to their last dollar, a woman approached them on the street and said, “The Salvation Army can help people like you.”

“It gives me and the team great privilege to be in partnership with the city of Anaheim to bring hope again to the lives of men and women who are today – currently at this very hour, at this very moment – on the streets of Anaheim, desperate for finding hope,” Nesan said. “We are committed to transforming lives, one life at a time across this city, across this county, across this state, across this nation.”

The Salvation Army and the city of Anaheim held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 31 January for the 224-bed temporary homeless shelter on the property of The Salvation Army Anaheim Adult Rehabilitation Centre (ARC).

The low-barrier temporary shelter is made up of more than 20 portable units adjacent to the ARC, with designated housing units for men, women and couples among other units for meeting needs, including case management and dining.

The 24-hour, trauma-informed shelter runs on a referral basis. The length of stay depends on each case, with individuals utilising job and housing services during their residency.

Each day, breakfast and dinner is served out of the cafeteria, with food brought over from the ARC. Sack lunches are provided as well. It is planned for ARC graduates to become shelter attendants.

The shelter also allows pets, a common barrier preventing individuals from seeking shelter service – and the facility includes fenced off dog areas. For now, the plan is for the temporary shelter to remain open for two years, until the Centre for Hope opens.

A number of local dignitaries were present for the ribbon cutting, including Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, who commended the City and the Army for “taking another bold step.”

“Breaking the cycle of homelessness is never easy. Operating shelters is never easy, but it’s worth it,” Mayor Sidhu said. “From this campus [will emerge] amazing stories of triumph and restored lives.”

* This has been adapted from an article which first appeared on newfrontierchronicle.org

 

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