Effort to aid homeless gains steam

Those who are trying to help the homeless in the South County have made progress in the past two years and are now “entering the awkward, adolescent stage” in their growth, said Betsy Ehrler of the Five Cities Homeless Coalition.

The coalition, recently honored with a resolution by the Board of Supervisors, is now officially an incorporated, nonprofit organization and will soon have a Web site, Ehrler said.

The coalition is looking for a larger place for its Peoples Kitchen, which serves meals daily at noon at the Shouts of Grace Church at 7th Street and Grand Avenue in Grover Beach.

In addition, “We’d love to get some property and hire a director,” Ehrler said, but both of those goals take money, and that’s not easy to come by these days.

Nonetheless, she said, the South County group has come a long way since February 2008, when the Grover Beach City Council, led by Mayor John Shoals, held a meeting that drew leaders and interested parties from South County communities.

That meeting, she said, was the impetus for different groups working to help the homeless to consolidate services and begin to eliminate duplication. Then-Supervisor Jerry Lenthall attended, as did his successor, Adam Hill, and Supervisor Katcho Achadjian.

Grover Beach officials said they are interested in a homeless services center there, a fact that the Board of Supervisors acknowledged and praised in its resolution.

Ehrler said that while much of the publicity about the homeless generally centers on San Luis Obispo, both North and South County also have hundreds of people who need help.

The homeless sleep in the Oceano Dunes and in cars in the Five Cities, she said, and there are children attending Lucia Mar schools who do not have homes.

Those wishing to help or who want to find out more can e-mail Ehrler at ehrler4@juno.com.