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CUSD board rejects winter shelter at high school gym

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CALEXICO, Calif. (KYMA, KSWT, KECY)-As the winter temperatures drop lower, concern for the homeless people without a roof over their head grows higher. 

With a shortage of shelter beds in Calexico, local advocates were hoping to use one of the school district facilities as a winter shelter for homeless people, but their request didn’t go as planned. 

The plan was to set up a winter shelter at Calexico High School’s 9th Grade Campus gym, during the two weeks that students and staff are out for winter vacation.

This is something that has been done in the past in Calexico, but this year that request was rejected by the school district’s board members.

“It gets really cold here especially when it gets down to the thirties. People need a place to stay warm and actually it’s a matter of survival,” said Richard Ortega, Calexico Neighborhood House. 

Back in 2014, the school board at the time lent out the high school’s gym so it could be used as a shelter, due to freezing conditions that winter.

“It worked out very well, we were there only two weeks and then after that different churches stepped forward and they provided a rotational shelter,” said Ortega. 

A memorandum of understanding for the winter shelter was prepared for Thursday’s meeting, per the request of the school district’s superintendent.

Ultimately the proposal failed in a 3-2 vote. 

Board members not in favor of the proposal said school administrators at the high school hadn’t been notified about the proposed plan. They added that some student clubs would be meeting at school during winter break and the students would take priority over the homeless population. 

“I understand their concerns, it’s disappointing, but we’re not going to give up. We’re going to move forward, we’re going to find some places so they can be out of the cold and be able to have some shelter during the cold winter,” said Calexico mayor Bill Hodge. 

Mayor Bill Hodge says the city will be looking into options. They’re hoping to start a rotational shelter with local churches that are willing to open their doors to the homeless people.

The Calexico Neighborhood house said there are about 130 homeless people without a permanent roof over their head in Calexico.  

Imperial County

Alexandra Rangel

Alexandra Rangel joined KSWT in March 2019 as a multimedia journalist.

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