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I would like to introduce you to the Tustin Temporary Emergency Shelter (TTES). The primary motivation for TTES stems from a legal requirement that states that a city must provide the option of a bed to a homeless person, prior to enforcing any non-camping type laws.
Therefore, the City of Tustin asked if we would help with the design and operation of a 50 bed, low barrier emergency shelter, that needed to be built and opened immediately. As you know Orange County Rescue Missions does not accept government money, so we chose to partner with the City of Tustin through our affiliated non-profit, Temporary Shelter, Inc. (TSI), with myself serving as the President of TSI.
I believe it is wise and strategic to partner with our home city, and through this unique partnership provide dignified and compassionate care for the homeless.
In order to make this process successful, that begins with a referral from the Tustin Police Department, we have developed strategic pathways that lead to ending their homelessness, including transition to and reunification with a family member, connection to housing opportunities and interventions to a higher level of care, including detox and mental health residential opportunities.
I have always believed that we must treat our neighbor in a humane and dignified manner. In order to do this we go above and beyond in the design of our facilities, and this shelter was no exception. We provide semi-private sleeping areas, sanitized bathrooms, clean facilities, healthy food and a security system that operates 24 hours daily and seven days a week, and it includes advanced door control and video cameras.
Because treating our neighbors with compassionate and excellent service is such an important value to us, it is important for me to sleep in the shelter prior to opening it up for others. Ever since I became involved in helping the homeless, I believed that I should not offer a bed to someone that I was not willing to sleep in myself.
So two weeks ago, as I prepared for my stay at Tustin Temporary Emergency Shelter, I found myself in an interesting situation. I had shared my thoughts about sleeping at the shelter with a few friends from the Tustin Police Department. They asked if they could join me, and then before I knew it 42 leaders from the City of Tustin agreed to join me!
With 42 volunteer participants, including 24 that slept at the shelter, we were able to really test the facility out and make some adjustments before our homeless guests were going to move in just four days later. It was an incredibly successful event that taught us a lot, and helped us to improve the campus even more for our guests.
I invite you to take a look at the above article published in the OC Register, (click here), that gives an inside look into this run-through event.
Tustin Temporary Emergency Shelter officially opened one week ago, and we have already seen many people find shelter and support here! I am so appreciative that the City of Tustin chose TSI as the operational partner for the shelter. As always, it is our goal to increase our care and service to our homeless and hurting neighbors.