Gathering Inn searching for home for homeless program after fire guts Auburn house

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Gathering Inn is in need of a new home to rent after fire gutted the Auburn house the non-profit has used for five years to temporarily locate homeless men and women with medical conditions.

Suzi deFosset, Gathering Inn executive director, said the four occupants of the Shockley Road house are staying in the organization’s shelter while a new house – preferably with four or five bedrooms – is found.

The Shockley Road fire late Monday gutted the Gathering Inn’s rented house used for its interim care program. The program, which received funding from Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, allows about 30 homeless people a year a place to stay while recovering from hospital procedures to treat everything from broken limbs to bullet wounds, deFosset said.

Three of the occupants of the house were part of the interim care program while a fourth – 56-year-old Steve Chase – serves as the house manager.

Chase, who has served as what he describes as “house father” since it opened on Shockley Road in 2009, said his hair was singed after he had roused residents and gotten them out but returned to fetch a cell phone.

“Something blasted me,” Chase said.

Chase said that he had awoken about 10:30 p.m. Monday and walked from his bedroom to a bathroom. But he said there was nothing noticeably amiss at that time.

“At 10:50 p.m., I heard the crashing of glass and saw light,” Chase said. “The back porch was engulfed.”

The two men and one woman also in the house were able to leave on their own. Chase said he’s still shaky as he thinks about the fire, which roared through the house he was at and a neighboring home occupied by three people. All seven occupants of the two homes were able to safely leave.

But Chase said he and the other occupants are moving forward as best they can.

“It is what it is,” Chase said. “You’ve just gotta move on.”

Cal Fire officials have said that the cause of the fire is being treated as apparently accidental. Cause was not available on Thursday.