Pilot shelter project talk continues with Wednesday forum

Bags sit packed near the door of one of the tiny home shelters in Ontario on April 30, the final day of being open for the temporary pilot homeless shelter project.


The homeless population and lack of a shelter have been two issues that the City of Ontario, partnered with Community in Action, have made efforts to address, increasing those over the past year.

The city was part of what was previously a three-fold partnership which also included Community in Action and Origins Faith Community, the latter of which dissolved its involvement in late April of this year. That coincided with the closure of the temporary pilot emergency homeless shelter project on April 30, also known as the “tiny houses” located on North Oregon Street nearby Nichols Accounting.

Following the shuttering of the temporary shelter project, a community forum was conducted at Four Rivers Cultural Center in June which included a panel.

The panel was made up of Barb Higinbotham, executive director of Community in Action; Heather Echeveste, Community in Action’s housing programs manager; and Ontario City Manager Adam Brown.

Higinbotham said in that forum that while Ontario does not have a homeless shelter, the need to house homeless individuals is ongoing and evaluating the temporary homeless shelter project is important to moving forward.

Ontario City Manager Adam Brown explained where the state of the local homelessness issue is and how the city is going about addressing it in an email sent on Sept. 9.

He described in the email how Community in Action’s After Action Report was completed in late June and then in July, Higinbotham and Echeveste began “communicating with different property owners about possible locations.”

Brown said that he participated in a video conference with the two on Aug. 20 to discuss who was going to help with “siting the transitional shelter going forward.”

Rather than put information out to the public about forming the committee, they reached out to people, according to Brown.

“We have tried to gather together people who volunteered or have an interest, who have resources in the form of volunteer help and money, and or have decision making authority,” he said in an email on Sept. 9. “We didn’t say no to anyone that asked.” 

On Aug. 31, the new committee met.

“Committee met to discuss options and try to fill in chart. It was the first go around for many of the committee to see the site alternatives so they needed some time to think about the options,” wrote Brown.

He elaborated on the formation of this committee in a follow-up email message received on Sept. 9, following a series of questions regarding the committee and potential future shelter locations.

“We used people who were interested in helping. Then we reached out to sectors that we thought could be helpful,” Brown wrote, saying that “several” members of the committee reside outside of city limits.

He reiterated that the committee “is not a city committee” and is not a decision-making body.

“Community in Action has allowed me to participate in their process and to whatever extent I can facilitate or assist the process knowing that a land action may be needed from the city I have tried to prepared this for public involvement,” said Brown.

Leslie Thompson contributed to this article.

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