Guerneville homeless shelter sites down to eight

A Russian River area task force has identified eight potential sites for a permanent Guerneville-area homeless shelter.

After a year of debate, the choices were winnowed from a list of 200, said John Haig of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.

"We evaluated old sites as well as new," Haig said. "We weren't able to come up with one super-site that would work. They all have things to recommend them and things that are problematic with them."

The River Area Shelter and Downtown Task Group, which released the list Monday, will hold a public workshop Thursday to preview the alternatives. The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision, Haig said.

The shelter would be open all year as a drop-in center offering assistance, showers, mail, laundry and meals. It would be open with 30 to 40 beds as an emergency winter shelter.

"There isn't a perfect site, but all of these could be made to work," Haig said.

At the top of the list is the Guerneville Community Church on Armstrong Woods Road, where a temporary homeless shelter is scheduled to open Dec. 1.

However, it is adjacent to the Guerneville Elementary School, which has 387 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"What do I need to do to communicate my concerns?" said Elaine Carlson, school principal and district superintendent.

She said she is afraid the shelter would expose children to vulgar language and coarse behavior, and possibly drug and alcohol use.

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