Auroville – Efforts are underway to open a low barrier shelter in Auroville to accommodate homeless people living on public property.
Auroville Rescue Mission is working with Auroville City Council to open a site called Mission Esperanza that has 30 or more Pallet Brand shelters and overnight trailer parking.
“What is it to help ease the homelessness crisis. And so it’s going to be a less constrained shelter than the (original) shelter,” said Alan Dykes, executive director of the Auroville Rescue Mission.
To be more low-impact, Dykes said the plan is to have space for residents’ dogs, a place to tent camp, and a space for motorhomes or possibly cars.
“It’s a place for the community to send people. Instead of saying, ‘You can’t be here,’ we now have a place to send them.”
Dykes said the site’s plans, its environmental impact report and policies are still in the works. The current planned policy for sobriety at the shelter is that entry into the site is permitted without a restraint requirement, but the use of alcohol or drugs at the site will be prohibited.
“Every community should have a certain amount of rules. But we’re trying to figure out as many reasons as possible for people to say why they can’t be here,” Dykes said.
The location of the shelter is a parcel of land right next to the Oroville Rescue Mission on the 4200 block of Lincoln Boulevard. There are plans to renovate an old warehouse on the property into an office space for employment and social services as well as behavioral health services.
“It is the same model as the others; Get them as many services as possible to get them back on their feet,” Dykes said.
Dykes said the project is still in its early stages and the city council is assisting the Auroville Rescue Mission in obtaining grants to help fund the shelter site.
Annie Terry, a continuation of care representative for the Auroville Rescue Mission, said that various members of the city council are responsible for the idea of selling a parcel of land behind the mission to expand the parking space.
Annie Terry and her late husband Steve Terry pitched the idea of increasing the shelter space two years ago. He approached the city with a proposal to incorporate the mission into the city to create zoning for a shelter.
“Instead of trying to fight against the city to put up a shelter where citizens didn’t want it, the rescue mission already exists. That way we were dealing with the city rather than the city,” Terry said.
The Auroville Rescue Mission has been operating since 1972, and Dykes said he hopes the community will support what the mission is already doing.
“There are a lot of community members who want to help, and they don’t know how to help. But it’s at this point that they’re offering their services and skills to get the job done,” Dykes said.