State funded encampments provide safe place for homeless amid COVID-19

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ARCATA, Ca. (KIEM)-Arcata has set up two homeless encampments set-up with money provided by state funds.

“They’ve been in operation for about two months now,” said Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn.

In operation, to keep the homeless population healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One camp is located at the Intermodal Transit Authority, the other is at 7th and G Streets.

“The services are provided by Arcata House Partnership. All of this started with state funding from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office when the coronavirus first came.”

The governor had emergency legislation that set aside $125M to be provided to local jurisdictions, according to Ahearn.

“And so Humboldt County has managed those funds,” said Ahearn. “And Arcata House Partnership been able to apply for and receive funds to help services for the unsheltered here in Arcata.”

John Antinello found himself in Arcata after leaving Santa Monica nearly two months ago.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this,” he said. “I had no clue this was going on.”

Once Antinello heard about the encampments set-up for people in his predicament, he felt blessed. 

The new Arcata resident was able to nab a tent and a spot after going to the Arcata House Partnership ANNEX at the transit authority and giving his name.

“This is like a miracle to me,” said Antinello. “Where you have a place to stay and they feed you three times a day.”

Each person is outfitted with a black box meant to be used for food drop offs, if the person living in one of the tents is not present.

There is only room for a limited amount of people at each location.

“I guess there’s only 26 spots (be) cause they’re using letters,” he said.

Florescent yellow gaff tape with a letter on it, in front of each tent, indicates the lot number for each designated spot.

Temporary bathroom facilities and hand washing stations have been set-up and showers are available at the Intermodal Transit Authority, by appointment only.

“I’ll add this, Arcata is amazing and fantastic, and the people here are spectacular and very giving and friendly.”

Something Ahearn agrees with.

“Regardless of where you’re from or what your story is, how you got into this situation, there is no judging at all,” said Ahearn.  “This is about providing services-being humanitarian and being compassionate, and that’s what we get here in Arcata.

Arcata’s police chief says the encampments are temporary.

The city and county’s goal is to transition each person into a stable living situation.

Click here for more information on the temporary shelters and homelessness.