Guerneville shelter relocated from church to vets building

Officials have reversed a decision to put a temporary homeless shelter in the Guerneville Community Church because of safety concerns for students in the adjacent elementary school.

Instead, the shelter will be in the Veterans Memorial Building, the shelter site the past three years.

It is scheduled to open by Dec. 1, but will cost $10,000 more than the rental space at the Community Church, said Katrina Thurman, executive director of West County Community Services.

"It is huge, we don't have $10,000 extra" Thurman said. "We will have to fund raise or close early."

The decision to change locations was made after a two-hour meeting Wednesday by a task force set up to address school and parents concerns.

"I was glad they heard our voices and our concerns," said Elaine Carlson, superintendent and principal of Guerneville Elementary School.

The school is next to the Community Church, where the temporary homeless shelter was to open by Dec. 1.

Carlson and parents, however, were concerned about safety for the 387 students, who are in grades kindergarten through eight. Students use the church parking lot as a shortcut and use playing fields and basketball courts on the weekends.

"We felt very respectful of what the shelter does, it is what happens when the shelter hours are closed, it being right by the school," Carlson said.

Carlson said she will try to get students involved in the temporary shelter, possibly by getting groups to help with serving meals or picking up garbage.

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