As you may or may not know, back in 2009, a homeless shelter was very close to appearing in a low income housing project in southern Temecula. It was removed from the project by the will of the people of Temecula after it was discovered it was going in without public notice or input.
Once that disappeared, those who want a permanent homeless shelter in our community began operating a “temporary emergency shelter” in Murrieta, and once they were removed from that city, Project TOUCH moved to Temecula, into Mountain View Church until early 2010. Now, they are back with a vengeance. They have a sign, and have dropped the pretense of “temporary” and “emergency”.
Let’s talk about Mountain View Church. Churches are allowed to open their doors for emergency shelter, in the case of rain, freezing temperatures, fires, earthquakes, etc. This is perfectly acceptable, and the right thing to do. On a temporary basis. For emergencies. Hence, the name: temporary emergency shelter.
Project TOUCH is not a church. They own no building. They can provide no care on their own. They have taken over a church that is not theirs, and are using the generosity of that church to operate a homeless shelter daily, rain or shine, and have done so for the past three-plus months, completely against city code. It should also be noted that the volunteer-run organization shelters homeless people from all over southwest Riverside County. Not just the city of Temecula.
A temporary emergency shelter for families who just lost their homes probably would not result in an investigation of panhandling, stealing, and littering. Project TOUCH’s shelter has. A temporary emergency shelter for families probably would not result in discussions of No Trespassing notices being put up around local businesses and on a tent in the bushes next to the shelter. Project TOUCH’s shelter has.
A temporary emergency shelter for families probably would not result in an email from Councilwoman Maryann Edwards to Shawn Nelson, Temecula’s City Manager, telling him that the city can’t have homeless men camping near the shelter so they can get food between drug deals. Project TOUCH’s shelter has.
And in the ultimate double-speak, Maryann wrote to a concerned Temecula resident two days before the above email that she expected the Project TOUCH shelter was NOT operating when the weather was nice. Reading her email to Shawn, it seems she was fully aware of the daily operation. So, which is it, Maryann?
Clearly, city staff and council are aware of the shelter operating daily against city code, without proper facilities like showers to handle long-term “guests”, but that has not stopped them. They are doing so with the quiet blessing of the city, with talk of arrangements and “agreed-upon rules” while ignoring their own laws. Not to mention the $5,000 the city gave to Project TOUCH (a.k.a. God’s Fan Club) through a Community Service Funding Program grant at the February 22 City Council meeting. But why should we expect anything different from our elected Council?
Of course, the City is not the only contributor to Project TOUCH. Just look to the Temecula Insiders, who created a Pub Crawl to benefit the organization. Don’t know what a Pub Crawl is? Just check out our video to get an idea of who attends these “functions”.