History Makers: Redding's First Micro-Shelter Community Opens March 1
by Jess Luoma
What started as a dream sitting around a fire among a few homeless friends has evolved into a reality: the first Micro-Shelter Community in Redding, California.
The South Market Micro-Shelter Community (MSC) is located at 3211 Mark St. near downtown Redding and is set to open March 1, 2023.
A retired social worker, Laural Park, observed the growing number of those experiencing homelessness after the Carr Fire and grew concerned over the lack of emergency shelter options.
Park has helped spark conversation, connection, and collaboration among the many organizations that also want to end homelessness and build our community. I guess you could call that a "spark of Park."
The idea of micro-shelter communities is based on successful models in other cities like in Eugene,OR, where the results of recovery and reintegration are profound.
These advocates recognize that those suffering the elements and the hardships of their past trauma, mental health, poverty, and addiction, without options for shelter, is indeed a humanitarian crisis.
Over twenty members of our community came together on February 6, 2023, to participate in the construction of the eight shelters on this historic day– a day in the works for the past few years.
The City of Redding will join hands with United Way of Northern California and Pathways to Housing to provide Pallet Shelters and wrap-around supportive services for the eight residents who will heal and find life again in this community.
"I'm really excited to be a part of this, because we get to love on our community. I just love to help individuals, so to be able to be a part of this is really groundbreaking for me," says Cherish Padro, Senior Program Manager and Project Supervisor of the South Market MSC.
Leesha Shafer, Director of Pathways to Housing, explains that the insulated 64 square foot single Pallet Shelters on this site will include a twin-size bed, shelving units, storage, heating and air conditioning, electricity, a locking door, windows that open and most importantly, a safe roof over someone's head.
The outside will have a seating area and the site will be pet friendly! Haven of Hope, of Oroville, will provide shower and laundry services to residents on Mondays and Fridays. There will also be a community kitchen and bathrooms on site.
"When we get to see someone in here with a roof over their head, it will feel absolutely great. I think it's pretty worthwhile. We need to get people the help that they need and I like to build stuff, so here I am getting to build stuff," smiles Tom Taylor, a retired Shasta County CPS Worker, who came to help construct shelters.
The site will include wrap-around services for the 10 months that individuals will live here with the goal of finding long-term housing for each person during the 10 months they will stay here. Each person will agree to a code of conduct to be accepted as a member of this new community.
They hope to create a positive environment for the first eight residents, and those who will take their places as soon as permanent housing is achieved, during the span of this two-year project. They hope to form a community that seeks recovery, permanent housing and reintegration into society-- with a newfound hope and purpose.
Pathways to Housing has hired Rudy Lucero to be the Case Manager at the South Market St. MSC. His personal ties to homelessness, and overcoming the odds to achieve his Masters in Psychology, give him the heart, insight, and professional training to provide support to the eight individuals who will live here.
"Growing up as a kid, down in Modesto, where I'm from, my mom was a gang-banger, drug-addict, alcoholic, so losing where we lived was very common. Living in the streets was very easy for us, because it was always the go-to," Lucero reflects.
"My mom is still chronically homeless, for twenty plus years, at this point, so if I can at least help others that want the help, that's the route I'm going to go," Lucero adds.
He explains about the role he will have as their Case Manager, "I see myself as someone who's just going to be in their corner and to give them the tools that they need and hopefully they will take all the tools I can give. Some of the tools that they get here, they may not use right away, but I'm hoping if it's in their shed and one day they might need it, it's there."
The site will provide 24-hour staff and security, including privacy fences, a locked gate, and security cameras to protect the individuals recovering from homelessness as well as the surrounding community
"When we come together as a community and there's an idea that's presented, the best way to see if it will work is to try it out and see if it will work," says Cherish Padro.
She adds, "we just ask that individuals have an open heart to see what can come of this. I'm really hopeful that this will be a great opportunity for people in our community."
The team recognizes the many concerns of the public about a project like this. They hope to de-stigmatize the perception of homeless individuals, who are often associated with the garbage they create, the crimes committed by some or the addictions they suffer from. Read more about the causes of homelessness here and here.
Rudy Lucero shares in this hope as he has experienced his own personal victories, "I always tell people, it doesn't matter your background, you're always able to overcome anything as long as you put in the effort and try. There has been plenty of people who doubted me my whole life and here I am today, I'm actually going to be able to make a change."
Applications for the South Market MSC will officially open Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Applications will be available at:
If an individual has a case worker, their case worker can help them fill out the application. If an individual wants to self-refer themselves to the MSC they can go online and complete the application or walk into 3211 Mark St. to complete the paper application, whichever is easier for them.
Congratulations to the City of Redding, United Way of Northern California, Pathways to Housing and the many more who are taking part in this important and hopeful solution to housing our homeless neighbors!