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Whittier chooses Salvation Army to operate 139-bed homeless shelter

WHITTIER – The Whittier City Council has selected the Salvation Army to operate a 139-bed homeless shelter, a critical step as Whittier attempts to house its homeless and enforce park curfews and anti-camping laws.

The Salvation Army will operate the shelter — referred to by the city as a homeless navigation center — out of its facility at 7926 Pickering Ave.

The shelter will put Whittier in compliance with a federal order that ruled it was unconstitutional for local governments to evict people from parks and public spaces when no other shelter was available.

“Whittier will be able to further meet the needs of the homeless by providing them beds, meals and services for their individual situations,” said Mayor Joe Vinatieri. “And we will be able to institute full enforcement of our no camping, curfew and other quality of life city ordinances when the shelter is established. All of this is going to make a huge difference in the homelessness situation here in Whittier.”

Council members chose the Salvation Army to operate the shelter over three other applicants, citing its experience in working with homeless and long history in Whittier and the local area.

“The Salvation Army can bring a lot to the table,” Mayra Chaidez, director of the Salvation Army’s Santa Fe Springs transitional living center, wrote in a letter to the city.

“Our local presence in Whittier…and throughout Los Angeles County (where our annual budget exceeds $70 million) is enormous and long standing.

“Our program management experience is directly on point – we operate numerous homeless adult shelters and other programs that are similar to the planned Whittier Navigation Center, and we also have extensive capital development experience, with a $1 million renovation currently underway in adjacent Santa Fe Springs and a new multi-million dollar emergency shelter for homeless adults built and opened last year in nearby Anaheim.”

Shannon DeLong, assistant city manager for Whittier, said the new shelter still needs to receive permits and undergo a state environmental analysis, but it could open this fall.

The final costs of operating the shelter will go before the city council at a later date, DeLong said.

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