An inside look of the DHS Cooling Center located at 66290 Estrella

Homelessness numbers are in the rise throughout the state of California. It has been well documented that varying factors such as drug abuse and cost of living issues have and will continue to impact those without shelter. Many analysts have forecasted that the numbers will continue to rise, and although our numbers here in the valley are nowhere near as staggering as those in LA county for example, we do have a growing population of homeless here.

As we scramble for solutions, the residents of our great city are not only speaking out, but many can be seen offering a helping hand. One thing about DHS that is unlike any other city that I have lived in… the compassion. Over the last several years I have seen this city rally together to help students who needed assistance with funding for college, seniors who needed help with living expenses, and beyond. This summer however, I have seen unified effort in serving those that lie in our streets daily.

In July, the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission opened the DHS cooling center. Located at 66290 Estrella, the center is open 7 days a week form 7pm-7am and currently averages 27 people nightly. This is amazing simply because without the center, these 27 people (a few children are among them) would more than likely find themselves sleeping outdoors in the middle of multiple heat waves. In addition to a nice cool place to sleep overnight, they are also provided with access to showers, storage for personal items, and peace of mind.

Occupants have access to showers and storage!!!

I asked some questions around town and social media this week, here are a few varied responses:

“I’d describe it [homelessness] as a rising epidemic with no end in sight for the rising numbers because numerous factors, drug addiction, addiction in general, spending habits, mental health and the economy. Without treating the underlying cause it’s hopeless. …It’s sad, problematic for many reasons, unfortunate and heart wrenching for many people to see. No one is perfect, you have to offer them help via programs and counseling or at least provide information on where to receive it…”

“You can’t function properly if you don’t have a stable place to live and steady income you just can’t think! They need housing first then jobs. Many cannot function even with those 2 crucial things and need mental health services first…”

“3-pronged approach… providing housing, provide counseling and support and educate the general public which seems to have so many misconceptions.”

“One family/person at a time. Each situation is unique, and our response must be individualized!!”

“We need a shelter that helps with permanent housing counseling and other mental health services… nothing too big like Coachella rescue mission… but our town does need something… it’s hard… not all homeless people are without jobs they just have to feed themselves and try to make it through… do any of you who are talking crap know how much it is to get a place .. coming from nothing to something is very very hard….”

The compassion shown by our city:

From speaking with CVRM staff and perusing social media, I have witnessed an outpouring of love! Our people, the people of DHS have shown up in a major. Many homeless who utilize the cooling center come with only the clothes on their backs. However, because of the generosity of many of you, they are given a much clothing as they need. Many have donated fresh linens and hygiene products. Lastly, there have been some that have volunteered their time to visit the center and speak with some of the occupants, to keep them company. I am so proud of DHS!!! We are a community of compassion!!!

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