The first transitional housing shelter for unhoused people in Half Moon Bay is now serving 34 people and expects to be close to capacity in the next month.
That was the report at last week’s Half Moon Bay City Council meeting. Elected officials were told residents come from across the Coastside, from Pescadero to Pacifica. A few rooms are reportedly undergoing renovations. There are one or two couples at the shelter, but there are no families yet, according to Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester.
San Mateo County purchased the Coastside Inn in December and ran a four-month pilot program with Samaritan House. After a bidding process, LifeMoves was selected to run the shelter. In February, the city began taking applications for the Coastside Homeless Shelter Community Advisory Committee to act as a liaison between residents and the city, San Mateo County and the shelter’s operator, LifeMoves.
The committee was established in April and has had three meetings so far. It will now meet quarterly in August, November, February and May. After some deliberation with San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy, the shelter will be renamed “Coast House,” or “Casa Costera” in Spanish. In addition to representatives from the city, county and outreach services like Abundant Grace Coastside Worker and Coastside Hope, the committee includes 10 Coastside representatives who bring an array of experience to the table.
“I think their participation, along with guidance from staff and the county, is going to be really key to the success of this venture,” Councilmember Deborah Ruddock said of the committee.
Half Moon Bay’s Luke Terra sees the committee as an approachable feedback system for the shelter operators and residents to share information and feedback. Terra is an associate director at the Community Engaged Learning and Research, a division of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. While his work focuses on connecting faculty and students with public service projects, including homeless and housing issues, Terra is coming to this committee as a concerned citizen.
“That’s one of the functions of this committee, to be a two-way communications conduit to ensure that the leaders of the shelter are hearing from neighbors, that there’s a way for them to hear those concerns,” Terra said. “And similarly, there’s a way for the shelter leadership to be able to share about the work that’s going on.”
Rebecca Raddon-Jackson of Moss Beach heard about the committee while attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After hearing the concerns about the shelter’s proximity to Hatch Elementary and Cunha Intermediate schools, she decided to volunteer.
“This seemed to be a good way to get involved in the community and pursue both interests of mine, helping the community be safe and addressing the needs of the homeless in our community,” said Raddon-Jackson, who recently joined the board of directors at Abundant Grace.
The committee is considering how to get performance metrics from the shelter to see how the program is changing homeless levels or crime rates. The committee is planning to host a public community forum to take place in late summer or early fall. It’s meant to be an opportunity for LifeMoves to give a status report on the shelter and address questions from the community.
“This isn’t a one-sided committee,” Raddon-Jackson said. “We’re here to advocate for our community as a whole, which includes those experiencing homelessness and those who aren’t.”
The committee also included Kerry Lobel, who served as Puente de la Costa Sur’s executive director for nine years. Natalie Curthoys, a rising senior at Half Moon Bay High School, brings a youth’s perspective to the committee.
Terra believes it’s important for high schoolers to be engaged in a social issue as complex as homelessness.
“She also has insight into what the parents of her friends are saying, so it’s been wonderful to have that perspective at the table,” Terra said. “And it’s laudable for a high schooler to take that kind of time to contribute in that way.”