Temecula’s only homeless shelter set to close this week

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Temecula’s only 24-hour shelter is set to close down Tuesday night. It opened six months ago during the heavy winter storms – but the city says it’s operating without the proper permits.

Project TOUCH operates out of a local church. It was intended to be a temporary shelter during extreme weather. But demand was so great that operators kept the doors open.

Last month, Temecula ordered the shelter to shut down – or pay a $1,000-a-day fine and close anyway. The city says Project TOUCH doesn’t have the permits to run a fulltime shelter. It operates out of a former church that needs renovations that could cost several hundred thousand dollars.

But Andrea Ireland says Temecula needs the shelter. Ireland joined dozens of supporters at a council meeting last month. "We could send a person there and know that there are people there who are capable of case managing who would love and encourage this person, volunteering their time and resources, the skills that God gave them. This is a benefit to our city.”

“I think everybody in this room wants to help the homeless," says Temecula councilman Mike Naggar. “But we have to do it according to the law and we have to do it according to our resources.”

Temecula instead approved a plan to create about 200 units of affordable housing over the next three years. In the meantime, about 50 shelter residents have to move.

Operators say most have found shelter elsewhere. But some could end up back on the streets when Project TOUCH closes later this week.