Beds for Homeless Shelter

By Tim Pompey

It’s a beautiful winter morning in Oxnard; blue skies, moderate temperatures for February, and more to come during the week. All of this belies the fact that it’s been a tough, cold winter for the Ventura County homeless population. But lately, things have been looking up. For example, the new homeless shelter on K Street in Oxnard finally opened the first of this month, and last Monday morning a very special gift is being delivered through the back door: 100 beds with mattresses courtesy of the Port Hueneme Police Department, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, The Port of Hueneme, and a small group of newly minted cannabis stores within Port Hueneme. They were all pitching in last Monday morning to unload the truck and assemble the beds. For Port Hueneme’s Chief of Police, Andrew Salinas, he’s happy that the cannabis stores have improved the city’s economy as well as followed through on their commitment to be involved regularly in community service.

“We here at the city of Port Hueneme haven’t been able to do very much for our regional homeless shelter that’s located here in Oxnard due to our budget deficit over the last several years,” he stated.

“But most recently, with the new dispensaries in the city of Port Hueneme, they’re required to give contributions to our community every year, so I reached out to them and along with some of the community benefit money that we receive from the Port of Hueneme, we put that together and were able to accumulate $35,000 to purchase these 100 beds for our homeless shelter here in Oxnard.” Salinas believes the shelter directly benefits Port Hueneme’s homeless residents. Because it’s a regional center, in partnership with Oxnard, Ventura, and the County of Ventura, Port Hueneme’s homeless population can take advantage of its services.

“Because this is the regional homeless shelter,” said Salinas, “and probably the closest shelter that our Hueneme homeless can actually come to when the conditions are tough at night, we wanted to be contributors to that, and so we wanted to help in any way we could, and we found that the biggest need right now at the shelter was beds.”

It was Salinas who helped push this project forward. He made phone calls and reached out to local organizations to drum up funds and support.

One of those organizations was local union 805, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters. “Me personally as a lifelong resident of Oxnard, and our carpenters that live here, we always want to be involved where we live,” said Special Union Representative Armando Delgado. “We live here, we build here and that’s a model we emphasize for everybody, and being part of the community is probably the most important thing.”

Part of the funding for this project, about $17,000, was made possible by contributions from the new cannabis dispensaries in Port Hueneme. They included SkunkMasters, SafePort, Hueneme Patient Collective, Emerald Perspective, and Trade Craft.

Mark Tatum, owner of the local cannabis dispensary SkunkMasters, welcomed the call to participate. For Tatum and his staff, addressing homelessness here in Ventura County is one of his priorities. “It’s one thing we talked about amongst staff,” he recalled. “We saw this opportunity to help and we stepped up and got some donations going and I think it’s going to affect a lot of lives.” County Supervisor John Zaragoza applauded the effort.

“There are no borders for the homeless,” he explained, “so the effort that the city of Hueneme is doing is great because we the city of Oxnard, the city of Ventura, and the County of Ventura have put up monies to put our homeless in a warm shelter.”

Upon recommendation from the Oxnard City Council, Salinas bought the beds from American Bedding in Athens, Tennessee.

“They’re actually supposed to prevent bed bugs, and they’re supposed to be easy to clean, durable, and they’re made for locations such as campgrounds, homeless shelters, and jail facilities,” said Salinas.

For Salinas, who deals with homelessness on a regular basis, it’s good as a law enforcement officer to be contributing toward a solution.

“It remains one of the highest calls for service that we have in Oxnard and Port Hueneme,” he said. “So, to be on the other side of this, actually addressing the issue and helping our homeless by using this housing first component, this is where we really start solving the problem.”