Morning meals for homeless to end at Escalier House and barn following Temecula council vote

By in Press Enterprise on October 11, 2017

By Shane Newell

Homeless residents accustomed to getting morning meals at the Escalier House and barn in Temecula will have to find a new place to go.

The Temecula City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to amend its agreement with Community Mission of Hope, which had used the Escalier House and its nearby barn for homeless services, to eliminate faith-based organizations from providing morning meals.

“We’re really making it a point to empower them, but not to enable them to remain in that lifestyle,” Mayor Maryann Edwards said during the meeting.

The Pujol Street facility had historically provided services such as morning meals, showers and computer access to homeless residents, but will begin operating as a housing crisis response center next week, said Erica Russo, who serves as the city’s senior management analyst.

The decision to transition uses was made in April as part of the city’s annual contract with Community Mission of Hope.

“We were not seeing a lot of progress with individuals making choices toward the path of self-sufficiency,” Russo said.

Morning meals haven’t been offered on Pujol Street since late-September, Russo confirmed, after the facility closed due to its bathroom having rot and leakage and Community Mission of Hope staff turnover.

Russo said groceries are still provided at another Community Mission of Hope location on Rider Way.

Neal Neuenschwander, a pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church, spoke at the meeting and requested the council postpone the item until a community forum was held on the topic.

“It is my very strong belief that the direction we’re going on Pujol Street is a huge mistake,” he said.

Before the meeting, Russo addressed concerns about cutting morning meals for homeless patrons.

“There has been a lot of concern expressed by a couple members of the community about how individuals will get food,” Russo said. “But the reality is that there a lot […]    

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