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SPECIAL REPORT: Living on the streets in Imperial Valley – part two

Karina Bazarte spoke to two leaders helping those in need in part two of this special report

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Imperial County has many resources to help unsheltered people.

On Tuesday, we brought you a story of a couple and their journey on the streets.

Now, we bring you the resources that try to make a difference for people living on the streets.

“That could be me, that could be my brother or sister, that could be my son, or daughter, or my relative and we start thinking that way we will be like do not condemn but to see what kind of assistance we can provide me," said Vino Pajanor, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego CEO.

And that is exactly why Imperial County provides assistance for those who need it most.

In the City of El Centro, the mayor said a Homeless Task Force was created about four years ago.

“This is a group of individuals, a group of cities, not only city elected officials. We include the police chief and the police commander. We also needed to bring in the fire chief. We got some of our department heads which is the Director of Community Services, the community development involved in this Task Force, and not to forget, Code Enforcement, Anna Garcia, and Community Relations Officer, Carlos Bernal," said El Centro Mayor Sylvia Marroquin.

Marroquin explained their purpose is, “to help some of these individuals, these unsheltered individuals that are out on the street to either reunite with their families to maybe get them to housing.”

The Mayor of El Centro who also serves on the Task Force said many projects are in the works.

“The City of El Centro has also been focused on bringing in more affordable housing developments. We have two of them. Girasol which is on West Adams Avenue that has 56 units. 10 of those units are for individuals with disabilities," said Marroquin.

The Task Force said it collaborates with other non-profits including the non-profit organization Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego.

“Catholic Charities is a non-profit agency that is faith-based and it is called to assist anybody who is in need. Whether you are hungry, whether you need clothes, whether you need a shelter," said Pajanor.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities, the non-profit has served Imperial County for more than 100 years.

And during COVID-19, they were able to open a facility that helps unsheltered people.

“In Imperial County, there is no day center for men and women. And so we said okay, let’s find resources and therefore the State of California through the county came up with the heat program, the emergency program for the homeless individuals to find solutions and we proposed, let’s build a day center," said Pajanor.

The Day Center now provides many resources like showers and restrooms.

Pajanor said homeless individuals can, "get their laundry done get three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and a take-home dinner all day. I mean all day and all through the week."

The CEO said the Center also provides help for those who need to get in touch with their family members and those who suffer from mental health or substance abuse.

“You and I are only about two or three steps away from being unsheltered ourselves. All of us think, oh it can not happen to me. No, it can happen to me, so it can happen to my son or daughter," stated Pajanor.

February 14 is the one-year anniversary of the Day Center.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Karina Bazarte

Karina Bazarte joined the KYMA team as a reporter in September 2022.
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