Emergency homeless shelter to open Thursday in Anaheim

A 200-bed emergency homeless shelter will open Thursday in Anaheim to serve those in need during the harsh winter months.

It will act as an interim shelter for up to 90 days — with the potential of a one-month extension — before two temporary homeless shelters open early next year.

Work began on the shelter after the City Council approved it during a special meeting Dec. 6.

Crews were hard at work Tuesday morning during a media tour of the building.

“This is amazing progress in a short time,” said Jay Burress, president and chief executive officer of Visit Anaheim.

The city is paying the tourism promoter $600,000 to prepare the interim shelter for habitation.

The shelter will take up 27,000 square feet of a 110,000-square-foot vacant industrial building at 2040 South State College Blvd. Orange-based Illumination Foundation will be paid $805,000 by the city of Anaheim to run the shelter.

About $300,000 has been funded through donations from Disneyland, the Ducks, the Angels and other organizations.

About 80 men and 54 women can be housed at the shelter, with other beds available for families. There will also be pet kennels. Paul Leon of Illumination Foundation said two veterinarians will monitor the animals upon arrival.

Garden Grove-based Bracken’s Kitchen will supply meals for the homeless.

Mobile bathrooms with showers and toilets are stationed inside the building.

The shelter will remain open throughout the day. Volunteers will lead book clubs and exercise classes, among other activities.

Various services will be provided in 10 counseling offices with case workers and mental health and substance abuse therapists. Chrysalis, a nonprofit that helps the poor and homeless find jobs, will open an office in the shelter.

Leon didn’t know how many homeless people will be admitted at first, but 155 had been preregistered during canvassing of local parks and streets in previous days.

The interim shelter will help clear homeless from city parks, particularly Maxwell and La Palma, while two temporary shelters are being prepared.

A 224-bed shelter on Lewis Street, south of Ball Road, is expected to open Jan. 31 and a 101-bed shelter in a former piano shop at 3035 La Mesa St. is slated to open in mid-February.

The Illumination Foundation will also operate the La Mesa facility. Leon said many of the items at the interim shelter will be transferred to the La Mesa site. The Salvation Army of Orange County will run the other shelter.

The shelters are part of a legal settlement that requires Anaheim to provide 325 beds by early 2019. The agreement reached last month is in response to a lawsuit launched by homeless advocates after the removal of a tent city near Angel Stadium.