Salvation Army Hospitality House for Homeless opens in Whittier

Lisa Garcia , Staff Writer

The previously closed Whittier Salvation Army hospitality house reopened two weeks ago as a women and children’s emergency shelter.  Nine families received a chance to move into the hospitality house, as officials and long time community members looked on to what they referred to as a blessing. It was a result of community organization, battling homelessness coming together for a good cause. The Hospitality House was first shuttered in 2011 due to financial hardship following the 2008 recession.

“In our first meeting in October of 2015, we knew we needed a place for families,” said Ted Knoll, the Whittier Consortium on Homelessness facilitator. The group made up of government, business, social service, and faith-based leaders met regularly to discuss homelessness in Whittier and the surrounding community, focusing on a safe place for the homeless families.

“Today is all about concern, collaboration and celebrating, Mayor Joe Vinatieri said. The consortium worked together with the Salvation Army and ‘The Whole Child’ which is a Whittier based organization that provides social services to children and families. The moms and their children want to stay in their community while trying to get back on their feet,”said Vanessa Sedano, Whole Child housing program manager.

“This place allows them not to suffer the added trauma of not being in a place where they are without their support system.” Out of the “Whole Child’s” 200 homeless clients, 50 to 60 are from Whittier. At the Salvation Army Corps Officers Lts. Ryan and Jennifer Bearchell, who assist and minister at the Whittier location, helped settle families with a total of nine moms and 21 children.

“Our goal is to provide support as the families work towards obtaining permanent housing, making the next step confidently,” said Bearchell. The families can stay at the emergency shelter, which has nine rooms with designated family sleeping rooms, and common areas like kitchens and dining rooms, for up to three months.