River Street Shelter is a 32-bed emergency shelter for homeless adult men and women. The Shelter space is a beautiful art-filled homelike sanctuary, where residents feels safe and valued and are treated with respect and kindness. In this environment, they can begin or continue the process of rebuilding their lives, maintaining sobriety, and re-connecting with the community. Breakfast and dinner are provided, movies night happen in the cozy living room, and birthdays and holidays are celebrated. Residents pitch in to help in the running of the Shelter, and many are able to contribute skills that have not been utilized in a long time, which helps them remember they are a valuable member of the community.
Shelter staff work individually with residents to assist them in connecting with community resources for obtaining benefits, physical health services, employment, and housing. Specialized counseling is available for those residents with mental health issues, to support them in maintaining psychiatric stability and achieving individualized goals. On-site Recovery and Seeking Safety groups support the recovery process for those with substance abuse issues. Art therapy is provided by a Master’s level Art Therapist and resident art is framed and proudly displayed on the Shelter walls.
The shelter opens at 3:00 pm and closes at 8:00 am. A Shelter stay is typically 30 days. About 60% of the beds are reserved for individuals referred by County Mental Health and four beds are reserved as crisis beds for County Mental Health and the Behavioral Health Unit; these beds are intended for a brief stay of 2-5 days. The remainder of the beds are distributed on a waiting list basis. People on the waiting list need to check in every two days to stay on the list.
The River Street Shelter was created by the Citizen's Committee for the Homeless in 1987, and has been run by the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center since 1989. It is funded by the City and County of Santa Cruz, United Way, FEMA, and community contributions.