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Unique Santa Monica Homeless Shelter for College Students to Re-Open


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 8, 2017 -- A shuttered homeless shelter in Santa Monica for college students -- which had been the only one of its kind in the nation -- is set to re-open soon with the help of three major players in the city’s development community.

WNMS Communities, one of Santa Monica's largest residential developers; Michael W. Folonis Architects, and MAS Construction Group, which have worked together on major projects in the city, provided their services pro bono for the renovation.

Renovation work at the “Students 4 Students Shelter” adjacent to Mt. Olive Lutheran Church could be completed this week or the end of next week, said
Folonis, whose architectural firm voluntarily headed the drawing work and oversaw rehab construction of the 500-square-foot shelter.

A formal dedication is scheduled at the church, located at 1343 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, 9 a.m., Sunday, December 3, 2017.

“It’s good to know these students will have a safe place to stay” while completing their course work at UCLA or, in a couple of instances, Santa Monica College, Folonis said. “We’re proud we could do something to help.”

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The shelter, which is adjacent to the church, originally opened in October of 2016 to college students enrolled but unable to afford a place to live except, if they were lucky, in their cars.

It had room enough for seven students, who spent most of their time in school.

The shelter gave them a place to sleep, shower and otherwise live with some stability during non-school hours.

The shelter closed in April of 2017, with the City requiring extensive renovations and a Minor Use Permit (MUP), as well as construction drawings and a building permit to house the students.

Folonis said as soon as he learned of the issue, he offered the services of his firm pro bono. He also quickly contacted Scott Walter, the chief executive officer of WNMS Communities.

Walter came aboard the pro bono project without hesitating, Folonis said. Then, Walter said, he connected with MAS Construction Group, which is the developer’s construction arm.

The two agreed to do the renovation construction pro bono. Those costs ended up totaling about $40,000, Walter said.

City fees related to the project totaled more than $18,000 –- paid with funding from the City Council and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose 3rd district stretches to the coast.

Officials said the shelter, known as both the S4S Shelter and the Bruin Shelter, is the first for homeless college students in the nation and only the second homeless shelter run by college students.

Folonis and Walter said they and their companies were excited to step into the project, and will do so again if needed.

“We’re committed to doing everything we can,” Walter said.


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