No Shelter in SoHum for the Houseless as Winter Arrives

homeless man

[Stock photo by Bobby Kroeker]

This year, without the space traditionally provided for the houseless at local churches and community halls in Southern Humboldt, people are getting very cold. Currently, there is no winter shelter available in Southern Humboldt. Earlier this year, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors declared a Shelter Crisis, as there is not enough housing to shelter all county residents in need.

Charlie, a veteran and Southern Humboldt property owner of many years, shared his perspective on the current lack of cold weather shelters.

He said,

People are having a hard time getting a warm place to sleep…[T]hey’re getting the cold shoulder. It sounds to me like there’s some kind of epidemic of cold heartedness, like where you elevate your position in society by picking on someone that’s lower than you. So anyone that’s down on homeless people, is trying to move themselves up. I can see the excuses are that insurance people can’t insure a church if dogs are allowed inside. Someone might get bit. I hear other excuses, like, they can’t let people into a warm, dry place because they won’t stay in – you know, they want to go out to have a cigarette. I hear a lot of lame excuses of why there are no emergency cold weather shelters. I think cold is more fatal than wet. Wet’s no fun, but when the temperature gets below freezing and you don’t even have some newspapers to put over you – you could very well not make it through the night.

The Garberville Veterans Hall at 483 Conger Street is a designated Emergency Shelter but has been closed indefinitely because of dangerous amounts of black mold discovered in the building. The Humboldt County Administrative Office reported their plans for Southern Humboldt county buildings in Garberville, including the Veterans Hall, are still being reviewed.

Other than emergency space that is no longer available at the Veterans Hall, two local churches used to regularly provide winter shelters. The First Presbyterian Church in Garberville alternated shelter nights with the First Baptist Church in Redway. These churches and willing volunteers used to share space, heat, and food with those in need during the coldest times of the year.

On June 17, 2017, the First Presbyterian Church in Garberville suffered a devastating fire when a motorhome parked on the street next to the building caught fire in the middle of the night and spread directly onto the Church and its free food pantry. Although local firefighters mobilized, contained and extinguished the fire, about a third of the Church was destroyed. This winter, the rebuilding of the structure is still in progress, and the First Presbyterian cannot yet offer shelter.

In the sister city of Redway, the First Baptist Church remains standing, but cannot host a winter shelter for other reasons. David Ordonez spoke on behalf of the First Baptist and explained, “The church is still open to it; it is incorrect that they will not have a shelter anymore. The only thing we ever asked is not to be the only shelter. .. It’s a lack of volunteer help. We can’t get volunteers.. Our congregation has been very happy with the way things have worked out with the shelter and there’s no issue on our end.”

Ordonez also stated that although dogs were not allowed inside the building, the First Baptist did provide a covered deck for people and their animals. But for now, the Church Winter Shelter is closed down without adequate volunteer support.

The homeless population and their pets are feeling the descending temperatures and increasing precipitation this December. Several people living on the streets of Garberville shared their views anonymously:

A mother who currently camps near town said, “I was numb last week and didn’t know how cold I was until I reached out to pet my dog.”

One long time Southern Humboldt citizen keeps himself warm through the night with heavy insulation. He said, “I have like six sleeping bags so if I get too cold I just climb under another layer!”

One working man complained “I’m tired of trying to go to work when I smell. But I don’t even go to the shelters. It would be cool if, at least, the churches opened their doors once a week and let us take showers.”

A working woman sounded jaded when she said, “It sucks to work all week to have enough money to buy a hotel room to take a shower.”

A Redway resident, Michael, described why having a shelter would benefit local people:

It would be nice to have a homeless shelter – you know, a place to go when it’s too cold, a place to eat….When it first started raining, I had two people in my place, ‘cause they were wet and they had nowhere else to go, you know, and it was freezing cold, so I kept them warm and dry, and gave them another set of clothes. That’s the best I could do, you know…

Offering space for other citizens to be comfortable and clean can affect a great deal of their well-being. I discussed sheltering those in need with Betty Chinn, the leader of the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation. They offer shelter, support, and help finding employment to people in Eureka. Chinn explained some of the services offered to the Northern Humboldt community.

She said,

We have different tent village, and then ten by ten for people. Not just the shelter, got them some jobs, some mental help. Got them a place to sleep. Something stable. They can stay, and that really helps them, the psychological. It’s much better for them, you know. Oh, and Monday we had Open Door clinic, and Tuesday we had a citizen come in to do the Laundromat, and Wednesday we had haircuts, and we have a Library. So we have very well-cared for people. And we have sixty percent of people working within two weeks. For us, we are very minimal, very basic, even below the basic. But the people are happy. But that’s the thing, they have to feel comfortable and safe.

The Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center is open Monday through Friday at 133 7th Street in Eureka, offering free programs including a health clinic, after school care, and employment opportunities. There are also overnight beds available to families and medical patients through the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation, which can be reached at 707.407.3833.

For the citizens of Southern Humboldt, however, efforts must mobilize before disadvantaged citizens even have shelter from the weather. At this time, the First Baptist Church in Redway is waiting for one or more volunteers willing to stay up a few nights a week to supervise and protect disadvantaged citizens. If anyone wants to volunteer, the First Baptist Church of Redway can found on Facebook, or call (707) 923-3225.



  • “Houseless” has such a nice ring to it.

    WWI “Shell shock” 2 syllables
    WWII “Battle fatigue” 4 syllables
    Korean War “Operational exhaustion” (might happen to a car) 8 syllables
    Vietnam War “Post-traumatic stress disorder” 8 syllables w/added hyphen. Completely sterile, non-human.
    Gulf War “Syndrome”
    -George Carlin

    • You just have no pity for anyone. There should be vacant stores that can be uses if properly staffed.

      • I’m pretty sure the point was that words can sterilize the idea of a thing that exists that is inexcusable.

      • The answer to the homeless problem is called a kibbutz! I have fronted this notion before, around here but none of our ” forward thinking problem solvers” in this area seem to be able to wrap their heads around the concept. The idiot majority of voters in this state seem to think that just because you eat and shit, you have a handout coming. That drags everyone down eventually. Way down. I’d say 60% of the so called homeless population around here are nothing but lazy, drug ridden, self centered parasites that are capable of working if they had to. Hell, mentally retarded people are capable of being constructive when they want to be.

        If I were King, I would build farms with facilities to house the homeless. Then I would proclaim that every person who is on public assistance and able to work has a choice. Work or starve, cause you’re not getting a nickle from me you lazy asses.

    • Civil War vets came home with “soldier’s heart.”

      • “O my children! My poor children!
        Listen to the words of wisdom.
        Listen to the words of warning.
        From the lips of the great spirit,
        From the masters of Life, who made you.
        I have given you land to hunt in.
        I have given you streams and rivers to fish in.
        I have given you many things Great and Small.
        I have given you the oceans and the mountains.
        Why then are you not content?
        Why then will you hurt each other?
        I am weary of your Quarrels.
        Weary of your Wars and bloodshed.
        Of your wrangling of dissension.
        All your strength is in Unity.
        All your danger is in Discord.
        Therefore be at peace with each other.
        And as brothers and sisters live together

        Songs of Hiawatha Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

        The art of peace in a time of War and crimes against nature and Humanity.

        If we stand together love will win


  • Being homeless in So Hum is a choice and one that should not be pitied. If your homeless it is your responsibility to journey up north where there are resources, the exact ones Betty chin list off. And I say this as someone who has been homeless before and will be homeless again next week. Take responsibility for your life and head towards resources to get back on your feet. I know from dealing with homeless people that a percentage of them want to remain homeless, these people should never ask for money and should leave panhandling for people that are trying to get up again. I personally do not panhandle, I’m disabled yet I work three jobs so be aware of who you hand out money too! Make sure your not enabling a willingly homeless person.

  • Billy Casomorphin

    Homeless folks are the bane of SoHum. Them and dope dealers!

    In San Francisco, the Tech Industry is taxed at a higher rate and the proceeds are used to support the thousands of persons who can no longer afford to live in SF, and those persons who ended up homeless, due to whatever personal drama.

    SoHum dope farms, where millionaires live, but don’t winter, should also have a tax to support the detritus and fallout of the drug-dealing industry!

    An income based tax on pot farming profits, say 15-20%, should help to support the indigent, who currently camp in the Redwood Forests around Redway, and down by the river, outside Garberville.

    It is estimated, that the average homeless person, is responsible for the expenditure of $100,000/year in public services, welfare, general assistance, medicare etc. It seems only fair that the main contributors to the problem, dope growers, should foot the bill for the human wrecks that dope dealing produces.

    Bleeding heart, but also, lame, do-gooders, like Ordonez, who also serves on the board at SoHum health, have apparently had it with the chronic homeless around Garberville/Redway, and now, with all the Motels full of permanent residents who also have nowhere else to go, there is no physical location to temporarily house anyone at all! (SoHum Health is another example of an organization where they talk about serving the public, but back away from it, again and again.)

    SoHum, where the few tend to control the many, is a good example of the attitudes which are exhibited by the homeless themselves! The homeless have the attitude that the population of the community should just see to their needs, give them a place to shelter, but allow dogs and smoking, showers, etc. Everyone wants something, but nobody has perspective, sensibility, or a sense of responsibility, personal or community!

    In SF, they passed a tax. In SoHum, a tax will also be necessary, and, someone will have to contribute a space, or a good location, to accommodate the highly valuable section of society discussed here, since no church or public agency wants the responsibility or the exposure attendant with operating a homeless shelter.

    Until the dope dealers are held responsible for the social costs of using their products, this never ending problem without a solution, will continue. Taxing all Cannabis Industry Operations to support the homeless is an idea whose time has arrived, in SoHum, and elsewhere…

    Or, just hand the homeless person a bus ticket to Mexicali. That will work!

    • Taxes for cannabis farms are at like 60% since you can’t claim expenses. Taxed by sqft before it’s grown, 148$ per pound tax to the state for buds, 9.25$ for trim. Income tax is paid at the end of the year. Legal farmes are paying tax 3 times on each bud. Maybe if we quit feeding the homeless and giving them handouts they will leave. I don’t get why they don’t leave allready. It’s gotta suck living in the soggy woods scrounging, stealing and begging for meth/heroin money. What the fuck kind of life is that? Whats the bum carrying capacity of the woods around town? How long will it be ok for them to trash the woods and set fires? You can see literal Tons of garbage by Bear canyon Bridge. Oh and while I’m preachin’, fuck all those sanctuary claiming illegal immigrants!

      • I like stars too!

        You know what they say in the Mafia:
        “If you don’t make enough money, then make more money!”

        Whining is a national pastime! Wait till you are retired! Then YOU can live like a homeless person, starve and freeze!

        Well, if you don’t want to support them, then don’t create them! Tax the real bums! Tax the pot farmers!

        • The real bums – Bar Union Members (BUMs).

          It is the duty of the court to disallow statements of counsel as evidence.

          Trinsey v Pagliaro, D.C.Pa. 1964, 229 F.Supp. 647. “Statements of counsel in brief or in argument are not facts before the court and are therefore insufficient for a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment.”

          Litigants should therefore always remember that the majority of the time, the motion to dismiss a case is only argued by the opposing attorney, who is not allowed to testify on the facts of the case, the motion to dismiss is never argued by the real party in interest.

          “Where there are no depositions, admissions, or affidavits the court has no facts to rely on for a summary determination.” Trinsey v. Pagliaro, D.C. Pa. 1964, 229 F. Supp. 647.

          • groba dude trustafarian osnt

            Once again, thanks for your valuable and embryonic input of general wisdom for the ages…

            Always nice to read a nascent comment from a commentator of your caliber…

      • If u don’t think u can write off expenses than u need to get a new cpa, or hire one. Tax code 280e… u can write off cost of goods sold 100% and most equipment and infrastructure can be depreciated over 5-10 years.

        File as a S Corp and your federal and state taxes are 31% which is a break vs fileing as an individual.

        And your wrong about trim tax. That’s actually 48$ a lb which is rediclous and so is the flower tax, but hey u gotta pay to play

        • “If you examined the 16th Amendment carefully, you would find that a sufficient number of states never ratified that amendment.” U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox (2003).

    • Repeat: Taxing profit is akin to taxing success.

      American Law Review – Violating a premier PRINCIPLE OF NATURE with the baneful and stupid conclusion that factual ignorance is beneficial.

    • No one, not a single person is homeless because they smoked weed.

    • Dopes call it “dope”.

    • I could be wrong, but the citizens bought into that same emotional rhetoric before, which is why they passed the vote to tax them mj hillbillies hard.
      Where did the funds go?
      Not on the citizens, that’s for sure.
      Forcing people to pay taxes to help people, helps the wrong set of people.

  • jerry brown could have fixed this problem but no he wanted to be known for letting illegal alien immigrants come here and live illegally and he wanted credit for a bullet train to nowhere. bad politics. the money would have been there if it wasnt wasted on the wrong policies

  • Deuteronomy 15:7-8 ESV
    “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
    Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV
    For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
    Proverbs 29:7 ESV
    A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

    • tax payer,

      Your Jerry Brown comment – zero minus ten.
      Your Deuteronomy comment, on the other hand, zero + ten.

      What you think, what you feel, and what you manifest, is always a match – every time – no exceptions.

    • That was before politics took control and forbid even the owners of parcels to make a sufficient life for self, let alone for others.
      The politics now defines sufficient.
      The power of the people was stripped and handed over to the politicians, long ago and keeps multiplying.
      Dictatorship is a sly master.

      If the power were returned to the people, would the people vote for the dictators to regain ‘control’ in order to limit the ways and means of others who reached out to help?

    • Tax payer,

  • A lot of complaints and no volunteers seems like the point of this article had been missed. So much for holiday spirit, sheesh.

  • The homeless choose this life, i feel sorry for their dogs. I see one very old dog, that should not be living outside.

    • I won’t speak to being a woman, how bout you don’t speak on being homeless. Simply stated: You just don’t know.

      • Don’t disrespect people who go to the unappreciated jobs when they would rather do other things. Who juggle paying taxes and taking care of their own needs. Don’t try to blame them for the behavior of others who made other choices. They know enough to work hard to avoid being homeless.

        But having said that, despite the attempts to transfer blame making the effort more irritating, the hungry are to be fed because they are hungry, not because they are worthy. They are to be sheltered for survival in hopes for the future, in spite of creating the problems themselves. It’s done because it makes the giver more contented, not in expectation that others will appreciate it.

        • It goes along with God’s law treat each other good there really isn’t a shortage of food right now and food is good for most people especially when they’re hungry and cold one of the biggest problems is that we keep forgetting God’s law you study the Bible we study all different kinds of religions but what do we know God’s law is treat each other good simple how are you going to heal the planet if we can’t treat each other good yes it is breaking like our broken hearts are broken economy are broken political mess nothing to see here just move along a shark bit out my eyes so I can clearly see that the enemy is myself and this is a hell of a disease

      • What i do know is most houseless people have mental/drug issues. I have to work, pay taxes and pay for my own medical care. What makes you so special.

    • Be careful with your generalizations! Did the people from Paradise choose to be homeless?

  • So many hard-hearted “citizens” here. As long as you have your Netflix or weed you are okay, right? Typical of post-modern industrial America. No love for anyone. Just gluttony and greed.

    We need jobs in this county, not talk talk talk. I cannot even find full time work.

  • This has very little or nothing to do with illegal immigration. The vast bulk of illegal immigrants just pick the food you eat and clean your hotel rooms and such and keep their heads down and pay taxes they get no benefit from and are as likely to be decent folks as any folks. Some are criminal but not anymore than the local population(and I mean people who grew up here too!)Much less I would guess actually. Yes, homelessness is a real issue but stuff your racist bigotry where the sun don’t shine it’s ignorant. Just because you don’t know a lot of folks who aren’t like you in ethnicity or back round doesn’t mean all of them are x , y or z anymore than all rural working Americans are the bigoted garbage depicted by their opponents. ( and i KNOW that ain’t true either now is it?)

  • In other words, smokers and pet owners are still forced to step into dictatorship line before they can be given a cot at the Inn or a home they can’t afford to heat?
    Blame it on the policies, not the dictators who vote for those policies?
    Increase those taxes after they pick themselves up out of the gutter and get a job?

    The forced ideologies of others never works.

    • The cause is on those who are demanding that the world accommodate them continuously , as if every disagreement was a battle to the death and only if a person is victorious in every single conflict, no matter how small or selfish, can they let go.

  • thank you Tanya for this story, good job.

    yes, i have extra rooms where i could house people.
    but why would i want to ruin my life, ie sacrifice my peace and privacy, just to be a saint?

    • And one who would be blamed none for the doings of the person they help? If the rule is the individual never is responsible for their own actions but their situation is always the fault of society, there is never a limit on what they chose to demand. After all, demanding is no skin off their nose.

      That they do this is understandable. What is not is the public guilting of those demands run the lives of everyone else.

    • …”why would i want to ruin my life, ie sacrifice my peace and privacy, just to be a saint?…”

      And risk being sued!! No thanks.

      Giving people a hand up I support, but hand outs? Not a fan, especially in the case of able-bodied Caucasian MEN – I say GTFO! There are multitudes of women of many hues busting ass supporting themselves, their offspring and in too many cases they are doing that in the absence of legit support from their spouse or former spouse (now dead beat dad!) So there are women- some over 40, or 50 – tirelessly paddling two canoes and some YOUNG , HEALTHY, WHITE, MAN asks for money? Haha! No fuckn way. You got a dog or not, please go fuck yourself. Then get yourself cleaned up and go do some kind of work, like everyone else has to do! SMH..

      • why pick on only white males? sounds like you have an agenda. although whites (male and female) per person are involved in one or more forms of welfare collection, most people on welfare still work so here is a chart provided by… A table created by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that white people were the racial group with the highest number of enrollees in Medicaid in 2015. Kaiser Family Foundation. now remember this chart does not say how much welfare each race collects, just the fact that they receive some sort of welfare.

  • Wouldn’t you know it, the comments have become a classist circle-jerk between our two or three resident fascists and their respective sock puppet accounts. It looks Craigslist rants and raves here nowadays. Is it because LCO started banning troublemakers?

  • One way bus tickets to Venice Beach is the answer..

  • You can’t help those who won’t help themselves.

  • Life choices are a bitch huh?

  • Mexico is super warm, cheap too, your welcome.

  • Too bad they had a citizen named Debra that did it every year for years without pay because she loved her whole community until David, Peg and Yashi cut her out and took over the EWS. They haven’t been able to pull it off ever since. See you don’t do things for Ego you do them because you love people and its the right thing to do… One must have love and a passion to care for folks.. Because of their actions people will die. You can’t just talk the talk you have to walk the talk. Without shelter in freezing temps desperate people will do desperate things.. You just don’t know what you have until it’s gone…

    • Den Mom… what does EWS stand for? When did this happen? please say more about this; I’d like to know more about the history that led to this situation.

      • EWS means extreme weather shelter. Every winter this woman Debra and a couple others would shelter the unhoused population in southern humboldt for many many years. She did it with no county fund$, just with passion and Love to make sure people didn’t die in the community during extreme weather. She worked with this population during the whole year helping them get into permanent shelter, medical attention, counseling, drug detox, I.D’s. She fought for the disabled and won many Social Security cases. She helped many get back to their family. She also helped bury many. She was an advocate from the cradle to the grave for many many people in southern humboldt.
        She also fought for a shelter Crisis in humbolt county for 4 years and finally the county declared one. Peg and Yashi were folks that brought food on occasion to the extreme winter shelter. In 2016 Peg, Yashi and David cut her out of the EWS plans from there on out and their attempt to shelter people was a “complete failure.”Their own words at the humboldt county Supervisors meeting that year. When the Shelter Crisis was declared their supervisor Estell Fennel picked Yashi to be on the housing trust board, that was forming out of the Shelter Crisis deceleration and he has since failed that position. Stating it was “too far to travel” too once a month. Debra drove to Eureka for years to speak her 3 minutes to get the city of eureka and humboldt county to declare a Shelter Crisis. She also was one of the folks that birthed a nonprofit called Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives also known as AHHA. Peg and Yashi rallied the county for funds in 2017 and still couldn’t pull it off. Debra had the trust of the sheltered and unsheltered population in southern humboldt and was a member of a local church that truly was a doer of the gospels. Everything she did was donated to her and never took money to provide for her community.There were years were Laverne Randel would allow her to rent or donate her building for a month during extreme weather and she used the church she attended to protect the most vulnerable in the community during freezing temperatures. She was a key player in getting the food bank back up and running after the fire at the church that use to house the food bank. One year for her birthday she gifted her community a porta potty because the whole community needed a public bathroom. Out of that came a permanent community bathroom because of a group of people agreed with the idea and worked hard to make it happen.. She believed that we are all interconnected and as a community we needed to work together to solve its own problems. Unfortunately that wasn’t what Peg,Yashi and Dave believed so they cut her out and have taken over the Extreme Weather $heltering and have failed miserably for the whole community. We all are Praying that nobody dies because of this very poor decision that only a few privileged folks have made for the whole community..My question to the Baptist Church is why wouldn’t you step up? Every night many many warm churches sit empty in southern humboldt because they are too afraid to do what the good book tells them to do. Love one another as He Loves you!!! You can call yourself a Christian when you Love the unloveable, and many live in houses…

        • Thank you Den Mom, for taking the time to give all that info. So, I gather that I can find Debra by inquiring who the heros were who worked on the public toilet?

          Like Joe Dirt above, I too phoned the number about volunteering and could not get more concrete info.
          I guess I’ll have to keep trying.

          I’m dismayed that this discussion has devolved off topic into venting about ‘illegal immigration’. The point of this discussion SHOULD be, to quote what the wise Guest wrote above on 12/26;

          …”But having said that, despite the attempts to transfer blame making the effort more irritating, the hungry are to be fed because they are hungry, not because they are worthy. They are to be sheltered for survival in hopes for the future, in spite of creating the problems themselves. It’s done because it makes the giver more contented, not in expectation that others will appreciate it.”

  • They could consider opening some type of building during the extreme cold.

  • Open that money pit called the Mateel. Oh wait, they can’t afford to keep the lights and heat on.

  • Anyone that is worried about immigrants trying to enter the country,legally or not can always become a sponsor. With a sponsor it is much easier to legally immigrate into this country. For those concerned about the well-being of homeless people during cold weather, you have a perfectly legitimate right to open your house up to them, invited in as many as it can hold, do your part. For those of you that always want people to pay more money into social benefits I asked, why do you always want somebody else to pay it? why don’t you! You can always donate if you don’t feel your current taxes aren’t already too high.

  • The operative word in this article is: Volunteers. With less than a fifteenth the population volunteering to help staff a winter shelter competes with many other opportunities to lend a hand. There are folks that care deeply about our unhoused residents, just not enough, at this time, to staff a shelter.

  • In January of 1941, Pres. Roosevelt gave this speech:

    in which he argued for four universal freedoms. One of them was freedom from want, the guarantee of food and shelter for everyone. It was a time of mass homelessness, with millions of refugees caused by the Nazis. The U.S. had not yet entered the war in Europe and many Americans were determined to keep it that way. Immigration laws were passed by Congress to basically close our borders. It was a time in our political history similar to today, Americans debating our responsibilities to those seeking shelter here. There were calls to take down the Statue of Liberty. Ultimately this speech became the organizing principles of the United Nations, and the foundation of U.S. foreign policy for generations. Tanya’s story, and the many incidences of verbal and physical abuse of the homeless people in SoHum, show that the debate rages on, right here in our community.

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