Mercy House homeless shelter opens in Huntington Beach

Mercy+House+staff+putting+a+table+together+for+the+facility%27s+common+area.+This+is+where+facility+residence+will+receive+their+three+meals+a+day.+

VINCENT MEDINA

Mercy House staff putting a table together for the facility’s common area. This is where facility residence will receive their three meals a day.

Vincent Medina, Social Media Editor

Mercy House homeless shelter is set to opened Monday, Dec. 7, after Huntington Beach City Council voted 6-0 to expand the shelter to facilitate 174 homeless people.

The living center was designed with the Coronavirus in mind. Each bed will be socially distanced when people begin using the facility on Dec. 7.
The living center was designed with the Coronavirus in mind. Each bed will be socially distanced when people begin using the facility on Dec. 7. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

The shelter is larger than the 75-bed proposal. The council approved the larger facility to meet the U.S. District Court’s order.

Judge David O. Carter ordered, “60% of the homeless population have shelter beds before the city can enforce anti-camping or anti-loitering ordinances.”

“We are thankful to the city of Huntington Beach for the additional funding,” said Chief Program Officer Timothy Huynh. “I know there is always a lot of pushback, but we believe this will better help the community.”

Coordinators will work with the homeless to find them employment and a permanent residence. They will also find them ways to overcome addiction should they have an issue with it.
Coordinators will work with the homeless to find them employment and a permanent residence. They will also find them ways to overcome addiction should they have an issue with it. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

A major concern with the project is how COVID-19 safety measures are going to be met.

“This facility was designed with COVID-19 in mind,” Huynh continued as he walked into the 174 bedroom facility. “Each person will be sleeping facing away from each other to meet socially distancing guidelines.”

Interim program manager Miguel Alatorre Munoz stated that homeless people will receive a face mask and be given orders to follow social distancing guidelines upon entering.

The living center will disinfect all belongings to ensure no pathogens infect the facility. Homeless people will also be given clean clothes when they arrive.
The living center will disinfect all belongings to ensure no pathogens infect the facility. Homeless people will also be given clean clothes when they arrive. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

“We will also do a screening of each person and ask them a series of questions. Such as their name, how long have they been homeless, where have they slept, and evaluate their mental health,” said Munoz. “It’s a rather long process, so we can only take about six people a day.”

The living center can facilitate 174 people. Each person will receive clean clothes, a face mask and three meals a day starting Dec. 7.
The living center can facilitate 174 people. Each person will receive clean clothes, a face mask and three meals a day starting Dec. 7. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

Each person will also receive clean clothes. Their belongings and clothes will be sanitized to ensure no pathogens are spread in the facility. The facility has bathrooms and showers.

Mercy House also provides three meals a day to the people who stay in the facility.

“We will also help them overcome addictions, should they have any,” Munoz said. “Our coordinators will help them find support groups and AA meetings. The goal is to get them back on their feet.”

Some skeptical members of the public fear that the homeless will take advantage of such a great project. However, Mercy House has provided a safeguard to ensure the temporary living facility is just that.

“Like our other facilities, the people who stay here will have 180 days to find a job or a place to live,” Munoz said reassuringly. “Our coordinators and staff will work with them to find employment and housing.”

The Huntington Beach Mercy House Living Center will finish construction before opening. The facility is set to open on Monday, Dec. 7.
The Huntington Beach Mercy House Living Center will finish construction before opening. The facility is set to open on Monday, Dec. 7. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

“We always appreciate volunteers and donations, so we encourage the public to donate or sign up at the Mercy House website,” added Huynh.

While the site is still under construction, the facility was ready to open and accept people on Monday, Dec. 7.