What is Connections?
Connections is an Emergency Shelter. People with a housing crisis will be able to come to Connections and be connected with the appropriate supportive services provided by our community partners. Our goal is to end homelessness.
What is the vision of Connections?
It is unrealistic to expect people living outside, in a car or tent, or even in a shelter to be able to overcome major hurdles in their lives, such as lost housing, job loss, addictions, or mental health issues, without being housed first.
Promoting hope and having the attitude of Housing First is paramount for helping people get back home and is a regular part of our daily interaction with our guests.
Connections should be part of the process of getting someone housed and NOT a destination. It should be clear to all who come through our doors that we offer a safe, stable place to start this process and are focused on getting people home.
Federal, state, county, non-profits, social service providers, mental health agencies, hospitals, law enforcement, and faith based organizations to name just a few.
So Connections is like those missions I see for the homeless?
No. Connections is not a faith based program nor do we provide religious services. We do provide upon request information regarding local faith based organizations and their services. Attending a specific faith based service is not a requirement of staying at Connections.
What exactly is an Emergency Shelter?
HUD (Housing and Urban Development) defines it as “any facility the primary purpose of which is to provide temporary or transitional shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless”. The key here is temporary. Connections is not a destination but a provider of connections to services targeting a specific need of a person in a housing crisis to help them obtain stable housing.
How long can someone stay at Connections?
Guests may stay at Connections Emergency Shelter for up to 60 days. Extensions can be granted for individuals who are making progress on housing through regular meetings with their case manager. Exits can occur before 60 days if no progress toward housing is being made.
How do you get people into stable housing?
There are several services and programs available through our community partners; rapid re-housing; transitional housing; permanent supportive housing; and prevention strategies to address the various needs of those in a housing crisis or those at risk of falling onto a housing crisis.
But there are so few places to rent in Mariposa. How can you get people housed fast?
The housing crisis is everywhere, not just in Mariposa county. Lack of affordable housing has been a growing concern of many in California, and across the nation. Finding affordable, stable housing is a challenge but this is an area where Mariposa as a community can show their metal.
Mariposa has a history of helping our fellow neighbor in times of crisis, be it from a fire, flood, or someone in need, and Mariposa has always stepped up to the challenge. Our staff and our community partners are among several dedicated individuals that are continuously reaching out to landlords to build relationships and to build a network of available housing units.
If you would like to see what you can do in this crisis as a landlord, we’d love to talk with you.
What are your hours of operation?
Connections is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Do you have a curfew?
We don’t have a curfew or a cut-off time where the doors are locked for the night. We do have a quiet time, between the hours of 10:00PM and 7:00AM so as to be good neighbors. Mariposa is a small town and almost everything is closed between these hours. There should be no reason to be out on the streets during quiet time hours. We know that and so does law enforcement.
What about traffic, parking or cars?
There is parking on the Connections property off of the main street. We don’t allow guests or staff to park anywhere else. Transportation can be provided through community partners and Connections staff. Connections is located close to several community services so some guests find it convenient to walk or ride bicycles to their destination.
How many beds do you provide?
We provide 16 cubicle beds in our communal living space. 24 bunked beds inside of two sleeping trailers. Due to COVID-19, individual needs, and other factors, actual bed availability varies almost daily. Please call to check availability.
Do you have separate sleeping areas for singles, couples, or men/women, LBGTQ+?
Yes and no. We consider each person’s needs during intake to find the best bed location possible. Pets are not allowed in the sleeping trailers so everyone with a pet stays in the communal sleeping area. Couples may be placed in a trailer or in the communal sleeping area. There is no separation of individuals in the communal sleeping area. Everyone is welcome. Each bed inside the communal sleeping area is within its own cubicle so there is some privacy.
Will there be tents like I’ve seen at other shelters?
No tents are allowed on property. We have all indoor bedding.
Will sleeping in cars, trailers or motorhomes be allowed?
No sleeping in cars, trailers or motorhomes will be allowed on Connections property. There simply is not enough room to accommodate vehicles larger than your average sized car or truck on the property.
Will you be serving meals like breakfast, lunch or dinner?
No meals will be provided at Connections. Food is available through one of several community partners. Connections case managers work with each person to ensure they can obtain financial help for purchasing food and basic needs and budgeting for these needs. It’s all part of becoming empowered to sustain themselves without the need for a handout.
Is there mail services for guest?
No mail services are provided at Connections. Mail services are provided by other community partners and the USPS does have a service for the homeless community that provides a P.O. box. Any mail sent to Connections that is not for the Connections program will be returned to the sender unopened.
How about phone, internet or television?
There are no public phones, internet connections nor television available. These services and more are already provided by other community partners with who we encourage our guests to engage. There is a small library with donated books, games, and puzzles.
Are there medical services at the shelter?
Each person entering the Connections program is given a quick COVID-19 test on-site and takes less than 15 minutes. No other medical services are provided on-site. Connections will provide the resources to our guests to obtain medical services through our community partners by helping individuals sign up for Medical insurance or obtain appointments with primary care physicians. We have the ability to link individuals with our Healthcare Navigator to ensure health and medical needs are addressed.
Are there showers or laundry facilities?
There is a single outside ADA compliant shower trailer on-site. There are no laundry facilities on-site. Additional showers and laundry services are available through our community partners.
What about my property?
We have a limited amount of space at Connections. There is a small amount of room within each cubicle bed area inside the community sleeping building as well as the sleeping trailer rooms. We provide two small storage tubs that will be placed in a locked shipping container we affectionately named “The Vault”. All property must be within your assigned sleeping area or in the vault. Nothing may be left outside.
Sounds like there are not many services at the shelter.
That is correct. Connections is not a permanent living solution for those in a housing crisis but a resource for people to become stable and connected to services they are qualified to obtain. Our primary goal is to provide stable, temporary shelter and get people into stable housing as soon as possible. From there, the individual can better work on their housing needs and continue working towards sustainable housing.
Do you allow visitors?
The pandemic has changed everything. We wish all of our guest and neighbors to continue to stay safe and healthy during this time so we will not be allowing guest on property until further notice.
I heard that only people on parole or probation can stay at Connections, is that true?
Not at all. If a person is in a housing crisis, they are welcome.
How about people who are registered sex offenders? Will they be allowed at Connections?
There are different tiers of Registered sex offenders (P.C. 290). We only accept the lower tier individuals and only after speaking with our community partners at Probation/Parole to ensure the individual is a good fit for our services. The safety and security of our guests, staff, and community is top priority. With that, we require the support of our friends at Probation/Parole to help individuals get houses ASAP. Additionally, if an individual is deemed to not be a good fit here, there are other shelter resources available to them.
I heard Connections is a low barrier shelter. What does that mean?
We do not require that people be sober, compliant with mental health or addiction treatment plans, or agree to participate in programs to receive services and housing support from us. Instead, we welcome them where they are.
Lowering the barriers that keep people out of an emergency shelter means more people can be connected to the services that can help them with what they need when they need it.
We do practice a harm-reduction philosophy, recognizing additions and substance abuse may be part of a guest’s life. Encouraging our guests in a non-judgmental way regarding destructive behavior, by offering preventative education and support for services to help get them over the issues in their lives.
I have a dog and other shelters don’t allow pets. I don’t wan’t to leave him behind. He’s my only family.
This has been a huge barrier for individuals attempting to get services from other shelters but not at Connections. We have been awarded a Pet Assistance and Service (PAS) grant that allows us to accept pets of individuals who are staying at the shelter. We provide outside secured kennels, inside crates for overnight sleeping next to their family member, pet food, veterinarian care to obtain the proper and required pet vaccinations and spay/neuter services, behavior modification training, and leashes and collars.
All pets must be cleared by our Veterinary partner BEFORE coming onto Connections property. We cover the cost so no worries.
The goal of our PAS program is to remove the barriers that make it difficult for a person to obtain the services needed to return to stable housing.
We are limited on space so one large or two small dogs per person is all we can accept at this time. If you are unsure or have a question, please call us. Our PAS program coordinator will be happy to assist you in finding a solution to your needs.
Can I get a pet while at Connections?
No new pets will be allowed on property that did not initially come with a guest. The focus should be on taking care of immediate needs and obtaining housing. Remember, this is a TEMPORARY shelter, not a residence. Anyone staying at Connections that came to us without a pet will have to wait till they leave for housing to determine if getting a pet is the right thing to do at that time.
Is Connections a “wet” shelter?
No. Connections is not a “wet” shelter. For those who don’t know what a “wet” shelter is, it’s basically a shelter that allows clients to bring and use alcohol. To be clear, Connections does not allow alcohol on property, nor illegal substance use. Marijuana, although legal in some cases in California, is still considered illegal in the Federal Government’s eyes and is not allowed on Connections property. Having any of these substances on the property is grounds for being exited from the program. Some individuals at Connections may be struggling with addictions and need an environment that is safe and stable to move forward with their housing goals.
What kind of security measures do you have?
Connections is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff does regular safety checks on our property and guests. Security cameras are located throughout the property and in the neighborhood to discourage loitering and trespassing. Law enforcement regularly patrols the neighborhood as well. There is an alarm system and staff have panic buttons in case of any emergency.
You call the participants “guests”. Why is that?
Those who come to Connections are considered our guests. As with any guests, they are free to stay or leave, and free to accept or decline what is offered. Just like a guest at your home, there are no requirements that they do something to be able to stay. It’s part of the low-barrier approach we mentioned before.
I have other questions. Who can I talk to?
We would be happy to answer your questions. You can email us at Connections@alliance4you.org, call us at 209-966-2550.
Do you have a Facebook page?
Yes and we update it with the needs and success stories of our guests and community partners.
I want to partner with you! How can I do that?
First of all, thank you! Every little bit helps. There are several ways a person can help out others in a housing crisis:
Monetary donations – Your donations have made it possible for individuals to become more stable in their lives and move forward towards sustainable housing. Any small amount makes a lasting impact on those in a housing crisis. Monetary donations can be done online today here. Select “Connections Emergency Shelter in the drop-down menu.
Checks can be mailed to PO Box 2075 Mariposa, CA 95338. Please make your check out to “The Alliance for Community Transformations” with a note: “c/o Connections”. Your gifts are tax-deductible, and the Alliance Tax ID is 77-0272319.
Donations of bedding, clothing, shoes, and hygiene items – We have no storage at Connections so we ask that folks please call prior to coming by and let us know what you wish to donate (209-966-2550). Small items, such as hygiene products (travel-size soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, handy wipes, deodorant, combs, brushes, feminine hygiene products, bath and hand towels, etc.) are always in need.
Clothing washed and in good condition (please, no torn, damaged, or stained items), shoes in good condition.
Bedding items, blankets, twin sheets, pillows, pillowcases, laundry bags, and laundry soap pods can make a big difference as well. Again, please nothing damaged or stained.
Books, puzzles, magazines! We have a small library here that can always use books, magazines, movies on DVD (sorry, no VHS), and arts and crafts materials. Having disabilities, no transportation and time on your hands is that much more difficult for the houseless community. Having something to help keep minds off of the trauma, and stresses of their situation on top of pandemic stresses is helpful in more ways than can be imagined.
Here is a link to our wish list: Connections Wish List.
Volunteer – We would love to talk about volunteer opportunities. Transportation to appointments, mentoring, going shopping, help with moving into housing, being a sympathetic ear to understand the struggles of being in a housing crisis, and being a voice in the community to dispel the false rumors that swirl around regarding the houseless community. There are so many ways folks can partner with us and help here at Connections. Let’s talk!