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Controversial Homeless Shelter Opening Its Doors, But Not To Just Anyone

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A controversial temporary homeless shelter is set to open on Friday in North Sacramento. The 22,000 square foot warehouse has been retrofitted to house up to 200 people and provide other wrap-around services.

Just a day before its official opening, materials were still being dropped off and sections of the shelter set up.

"It's a low barrier 24-7 shelter for up to 200," said Christie Holderegger with Volunteers of America.

She says people will have a storage bin for their things, a bed, pet services, and access to mental and addiction help.

"We just really want to make this as comfortable as possible for them to start receiving services," said Holderegger. VOA has been tasked with setting up and running the day to day operations.

Over the next week, walls will be built using sheetrock to create housing pods. Holderegger says it will provide safety and a sense of community.

But not everyone is invited. People are reached by an impact team, and only those with referrals will be allowed access.

"It's really focused on those that are the hardest to serve that are on the streets," said Holderegger.

Getting to this point hasn't been easy.

"Everybody knows it's a problem, but very few people are willing to accept it in and around their community," said Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren.

Securing a location was met with backlash from the community.

"They'll see that there is nothing to fear about this," reassured City Councilman Jeff Harris.

Harris says something had to be done since mitigating homelessness was costing the city more than $17 million a year.

"When we get people off the streets, everyone is a total success that we get back in savings," said Harris.

"They're having to spend an incredible amount of money for a very short-term solution," said Larry Glover-Mead with the Woodlake Community Association.

He says people in the surrounding areas want to help. But some feel this project moved too quickly, leaving unresolved questions.

"How do you have a plan to effectively address the possible impacts that might happen to surrounding businesses and communities," said Glover-Mead.

The shelter will remain open for four months. It's expected to cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and would like to receive a referral, you can call 3-1-1 and explain your situation.

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