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Homeless Shelters to Be Open Only on Cold Nights

Gov. Pete Wilson is expected to approve round-the-clock operation of the state’s armories as shelters, but local officials say that’s not economically possible in Ventura County.

Instead, beginning about Dec. 1, the National Guard Armory in Oxnard will again open its doors as a nighttime shelter only.

“We don’t have the funding to do it 24 hours,” Nancy Nazario, Ventura County’s homeless ombudsman, said Wednesday. The shelter operates four months on a budget of $47,000 gathered from various public and private sources, she said.

Along with the expanded hours, Wilson is expected to authorize opening of the armories starting about mid-November. But county officials say they may not be prepared to operate the Oxnard shelter that early.

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“We’re not able to mobilize as quickly as we would like to,” Nazario said. “We’re aiming for Dec. 1, but I’m not saying we won’t open sooner.”

After the county gets official word from Wilson, it must formalize a contract with the Ventura County chapter of the American Red Cross, which operates the shelter, she said. Then operating funds must be gathered and staff hired and trained to run the shelter.

This year will mark the fourth year that the armory at 351 South K St. has operated as a shelter on cold or rainy nights. Nazario said the same weather conditions will apply this year. The armory will be open on clear nights when the temperature is predicted to go below 40 degrees, or below 50 degrees on rainy nights. The hours will be from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Last winter the shelter was open 56 nights, sheltering an average of 70 homeless people a night.

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