TEMECULA’S HOMELESS SHELTER
Did you know that there is a homeless shelter operating in Temecula at the former Mountain View Church on Rancho California Road? Probably not, because everyone involved, including the City Council has been keeping it hidden from you. According to Anne Unmacht, the founder of Project TOUCH, the non-profit organization that operates the shelter, it currently sleeps over 25 people and if she has her way, will have a hundred. Is this what you want in Temecula? You may have no choice.
Last year, Project TOUCH convinced a Church in Murrieta that they were allowed to use their building as a homeless shelter until the City of Murrieta shut that operation down. TOUCH is now in the city of Temecula attempting to do the same thing.
At a public forum, on August 27, 2009, Project TOUCH paraded two underage children in front of a group of over 100 to bolster support for the Summerhouse housing project on Margarita Road. The children were crying as Ms. Unmacht explained that the family was homeless and on the verge of living in Sam Hicks Park. That blatant disregard for the children’s right to privacy, even if parental permission were given, is a gross violation of client confidentiality. No disciplinary action was taken when brought to the City’s attention.
At the February 22, 2011 Temecula City Council meeting, the council awarded a $5000.00 grant to Project TOUCH from the Community Service Funding Program, as they have done in years past. The council was alerted to the unethical practices of this organization that evening. According to the Project TOUCH website, their goal is have a homeless shelter in southwest Riverside County. The website boasts an endorsement by Mayor Pro-Tem Chuck Washington.
Councilman Washington seemed surprised to learn that his name appeared on the website and asked Ms. Unmacht if it were true. She replied that she was not sure. Mr. Washington was asked to abstain from the vote. He sought advice from the Assistant City Attorney, who found no problem with him considering the action. He voted to approve the grant. Regardless of the legality, Mr. Washington should have abstained over the perceived conflict of interest brought forth that evening. At that time however, he chose to endorse the organization, on record, by praising it’s work. By publicly endorsing and allowing his name to be used after the fact illustrates how the council sanctions their actions.
At the meeting of February 22, 2011, the following questions were posed to the council, with no reply offered by either the council or staff and which remain unanswered at the time of this writing.
1. Where is the alleged homeless shelter in the city of Temecula? There were several public speakers that evening who claimed to had visited there. No answer from council or staff.
2. Who authorized the shelter to exist? No answer from council or staff.
3. When was there a public hearing regarding the shelter? No answer from council or staff.
4. Is Project TOUCH qualified to run this alleged shelter? According to the founder, their qualifications stem from a “divine call” to have a shelter in Temecula. They state they are “pure vessels” allowing themselves to help the poor. No answer from council or staff.
5. Are any of their staff a therapist, counselor or case worker? Nothing on their website reflects those services are being provided. No answer from council or staff
6. What is the City’s liability should one of their clients have a psychotic episode causing injury or death to another? No answer from council or staff.
7. Are they insured against such a liability? No response was given by any members of the City Council.
8. Since the City has been funding them, could the City be liable, especially with Mr. Washington’s public, on record endorsement? No answer from council or staff.
Over the past year, the City Council has been made aware of the unethical practices of Project TOUCH. The City of Temecula has been using tax dollars over the past couple of years to help fund that organization. The City Council chooses to turn their back on the questions and concerns of the public. They have allowed an unlicensed shelter to operate without notice or public hearing. This is how tax dollars are being utilized by the City Council, and with no obvious concern over the risk to our city and it’s citizens. The economy of the State of California is tenuous. Our elected officials should be less liberal with taxpayer dollars.