ATASCADERO — The El Camino Homeless Organization has announced that they have opened an emergency winter shelter that will be available immediately. 

Since mid-November, there has been a warming shelter, but the opening of the winter shelter allows ECHO to serve more consistently to those in need. 

“For the past few years, it [the warming shelter] was in different churches each winter and would rotate depending on what year you are looking at,” Wendy Lewis, ECHO CEO, told the Atascadero News. “In a warming center, though, it is weather-based. During the winter months, if the temperature drops below 40 degrees or there is a 50 percent of chance or more of rain, it would open. As our organization looked at that, we saw some different models throughout the country that had emerged with winter shelters as opposed to warming. For one, it is more consistent for the people we are serving to know that it is open and even when it’s 42 degrees, trying to sleep outside is still quite challenging.”

Those wishing to stay in the homeless shelter will need to first report to ECHO between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. as part of their intake period. During this time, they will be served a hot meal and put on a list for one of the 20 beds available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

The winter shelter will be open from 7 p.m. till 7 a.m. at the Community Church of Atascadero at 5850 Rosario Avenue. ECHO has announced that the shelter will be available until Mar. 31.

ECHO is still very much in need of volunteers and monetary donations as they are now operating the new shelter in Paso Robles as well as ECHO and the winter shelter. To learn more or donate time or money, visit their website at echoshelter.org.

Getting through this together, Atascadero