Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Coalition of homeless advocates to stage sleep-in protest at Antioch City Hall once they obtain a permit

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

The original flyer distributed by organizers who say a new one will be created once they obtain a permit.

Tried to keep it secret from councilmembers; one organizer reconsidering participation in effort

By Allen Payton

A flyer being distributed via social media by a group labeling themselves Antioch Homeless Advocacy Coalition said they were going to be holding “One Homeless Night” at Antioch City Hall Tues., July 9 through Wed. morning, July 10.

The effort is to “protest the City of Antioch’s policies and their lack of a shelter or warming/cooling center for homeless residents.” It was to run from 10:00 AM Tuesday through 10:00 AM Wednesday.

The event flyer also includes a message “Please keep this event private. Do not post on social media. We want our city council members to be surprised.” However, city officials had already been made aware of the effort and received a copy of the flyer days before The Herald received it.

According to the flyer, the coalition includes three organizations listed on the flyer, Facing Homelessness in Antioch led by Nichole Gardner, Urban Upreach, which was formed in Antioch in March by Ashley Mahan, and Shower House Ministries, which is led by Ken Rickner and provides free showers to the homeless in Antioch. (See related article). (NOTE: An earlier version of this article had the incorrect organization of the same name based in Seattle for the Antioch based Facing Homelessness, Inc. The Seattle organization’s name and website is what appears first in an online search.)

9:30 PM UPDATE: However, the protest has been postponed because the group has chosen to obtain a city permit from to hold the event.

Instead of responding to questions emailed to them (see below) via email or phone call, Gardner and Mahan chose to create a video response and post it on YouTube by Gardner and Mahan, “We’re here to let everybody know in the community that we weren’t trying to be sneaky or not let everybody know what exactly we’re doing,” said Mahan. “We didn’t pull the permit for the protest so we were having it on a different day. That’s why it (the flyer) wasn’t released. Not that we were trying to do something to not let everybody know about it or to piss off the government.”

“We already know that the city had our protest flyer. It’s not new to us,” she continued. “So, to inform everybody we just changed the date. And when we have the protest, we’ll let everybody know what we are doing.”

“It was no news to the city council, what we were going to do, as we sit on the Homeless Task Force,” Mahan stated.

However, Rickner wasn’t aware they had changed the date or were going to pull a permit to hold the protest.

Gardner’s group, according to their Facebook page, “was created to bring awareness for those living in our city of Antioch that are without shelter and other basic needs. Want to get involved? We will let you know when we will be feeding the homeless in our city. We need all the help we can get. So if you are able to volunteer to cook, help pass out food, pick up donations, etc. please do so. We will also be taking donations such as clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, head wear, shoes, and other basic necessities. Its [sic] time for us to face homelessness in our city and do something about it.”

The mission statement for Urban Upreach, published on their Facebook page reads, “By providing resources and support to people experiencing homelessness, we will empower them to feel worthy of dignity and become more self-sufficient. We believe treating all people with kindness and respect is paramount to eradicating homelessness once and for all.”

Each of the organizers were asked the following questions in an email at 1:54 PM:

What are you hoping the City Council will do in response to your effort?

Did anyone in your coalition attend any of their recent budget sessions and ask the Council for funds for a shelter or warming/cooling center for homeless residents to be included in the budget?

How many members are there in the Antioch Homeless Advocacy Council? When was it formed?

Also, is Facing Homelessness the same organization that is based in Seattle? This last question was answered by a search on Facebook.

In addition, a phone call was made to Mahan looking for comment and for answers to the questions.

6:00 PM UPDATE: So far, Rickner has been the only one to respond, saying he doesn’t think anyone spoke during the council budget hearings, asking for money. He also said he didn’t know his organization’s name was going to be used on the flyer.

“I’m a homeless advocate and just like going out there and doing it,” he said. “I’m part of the city’s Homeless Task Force and I want to work with the city, not against them, and I don’t think getting at odds with them is effective, at all.”

“I’m rethinking participating with this event, the way they’re doing it,” Rickner added.

While neither Gardner nor Mahan responded to the email, phone call, they did post comments on the Herald Facebook page below the posting of the original article. Additional requests to them to respond to the questions were made by this writer in comments on Facebook. As of the update those attempts have been unsuccessful.

In addition to the email to the organizers, a separate email was sent to Mayor Sean Wright, Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Councilman Lamar Thorpe who serve on the city’s Homelessness Task Force, and City Manager Ron Bernal at 2:00 P.M. with the following request and questions:

Looking for any comments you might have about the event mentioned in the attached flyer.

Are you aware of the Antioch Homeless Advocacy Coalition, Facing Homelessness or Urban Upreach?

Other than Ken Rickner of Shower House Ministries, do you know or have you spoken to any of the organizers?

Have any of their representatives spoken at the task force meetings or during the recent budget hearings, to ask for funds [for] a shelter or warming/cooling center?

An auto-response email message was received from Bernal that he will be out of the office until Tuesday, July 9.

Motts responded by phone call while the writer of this article was unavailable. When reached for comment later, Motts said she will respond tomorrow, as she is out for the evening.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force to hold second of four hearings Monday

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Wants to hear from local, community-based organizations, residents, volunteers, non-profits and faith ministries about alleviating homeless encampments.

WHAT : As part of a four-part series of public testimony gatherings, the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force will meet for a second time to gather public testimony specifically from community-based organizations, residents, volunteers, nonprofits and faith ministries who are currently assisting individuals experiencing homelessness.

This is a follow up to the May 30, 2019, public testimony hearing where the Task Force received testimony about the impacts of the growing homeless crisis including homeless encampments on city departments, county and regional agencies, and community-based organizations.

Part 2 of the series will be a roundtable discussion to elicit testimony about how to better align city services to alleviate homeless encampments on public and private properties including the consequences associated with encampments like the accumulation of rubbish, needles and human feces.

WHEN: June 10th, 2019, 6:00 pm

WHERE : Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

LIMITED SEATING : RSVP here.

WHY : In March of 2019, Mayor Pro-Tem Joy Motts and Council Member Lamar Thorpe requested the establishment of a Homeless Encampment Task Force, which was unanimously approved by the Antioch City Council. The purpose of the Task Force is to study the growing homeless crisis in Antioch, the effects of homelessness including encampments on the community and temporary measures to alleviate homeless encampments until the completion of the Contra Costa County Care Center.

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Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force to gather public testimony beginning Thursday

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

About impact in city and to provide recommendations to city council

WHAT: As part of a four-part series of public testimony hearings, the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force will gather public testimony from regional, county and city agencies, community-based organizations, homeless advocates and volunteers to build the committee’s knowledge base about the impacts of homeless encampments on communities and services. Additionally, the Task Force will examine current efforts that assist homeless residents in meeting basic needs, gain access to services programs and providers, as well as connected with temporary and/or permanent housing.

WHEN & WHERE: On March May 30th, 2019, Nick Rodriguez Center Center, 213 F Street, Antioch.

WHY: In March of 2019, Mayor Pro-Tem Joy Motts and Council Member Lamar Thorpe requested the establishment of a Homeless Encampment Task Force. The purpose of the Task Force is to study the growing homeless crisis in Antioch, the effects of homelessness including encampments on the community and temporary measures to alleviate homeless encampments until the completion of the Contra Costa County Care Center.

Task Force Members: Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Council Member Lamar Thorpe

Public Testimony Hearing 1 of 4 Agenda:

Opening Remarks, 8:45 am

Overview of Homelessness in Contra Costa County, 9:00 – 10:00 am

  1. Teri House, City Antioch CDBG/Housing Consultant
  2. LaVonna Martin, Contra Costa County Director, Health, Housing, & Homeless Services

Deep Dive-Contra Costa County/Regional Efforts , 10:15 – 11:15 am

  1. Michael Fisher, Manager, Contra Costa County Core Teams
  2. Armondo Sandoval, CIT Coordinator, BART
  3. Contra Costa County Fire (TBA)
  4. Robert Weston, Project Manager, CoCo Lead Plus, Health Right 360
  5. Steve Ponte, Chief Operating Officer, Tri-Delta Transit

Deep Dive-City of Antioch, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

  1. Tammany Brooks, Chief, Antioch Police Department
  2. Forrest Ebbs, Director, Antioch Community Development Department
  3. George Harding, Manager, Antioch Animal Services
  4. Jon Blanc, Director, Antioch Public Works Department

Meeting Basic Needs-Education, Medical Services, Housing 1:45 – 2:45 pm

  1. Lisa Perry, Homeless Liaison, Antioch Unified School District
  2. Valentino Walker, Sutter Health Rep
  3. T’Sendenia Gage, Program Coordinator, Student Success & Retention, Los Medanos College
  1. Anthony Aiello, Director, East Bay Men’s Recovery Center

Meeting Basic Needs-Food, Closing, Basic Necessities, 5:30-6:30 pm

  1. Ken Kickner, Shower House Ministries
  2. Joleen Lafayette, Executive Director, Loaves & Fishes of Contra Costa
  3. Nicole Gardner, Executive Director, Facing Homelessness in Antioch
  4. Ashley Mahan, CEO, Urban Upreach, Inc

Overcoming Homelessness, 6:45 – 7:45 pm

  1. TBA
  2. TBA
  3. TBA
  4. TBA

Please note, each panel will be streamed LIVE on Facebook @lamar.a.thorpe and @joymotts2018. At the conclusion of the hearing, the videos will be made available on YouTube (searchable by panel heading). There will be a 30 day comment period following the live stream. All comments submitted in the comments section of the Facebook and YouTube posts will be reviewed and considered public testimony by the committee. *Following the May 30th public testimony meeting, the task force will meet again on June 10, 2019, to gather additional public testimony from residents. The time and location will be announced at a later time.

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New Grace Closet Food Pantry & Clothing Closet to hold Grand Opening in Antioch Sunday, March 10

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

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Contra Costa Health Services seeks volunteers for annual homeless count

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

WHAT: Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3) seeks volunteers for the county’s annual point-in-time count of residents who are experiencing homelessness.

Volunteers will work in groups at designated locations across the county to interview people and collect data.

WHO: Volunteers must be 18 or older. Spanish speakers are especially encouraged to volunteer.

WHEN: Each volunteer must attend a two-hour training during the week of January 21 and work a two- to three-hour shift during the week of January 28. Trainings and shifts are available across the county at a variety of times.

Volunteers are encouraged to wear warm clothing and comfortable footwear to their shifts and be prepared to stand for long periods.

WHY: Data collected during the count help H3 and its partners to improve services for Contra Costa’s homeless population and is used by federal, state and local government to determine funding for homeless services.

Visit cchealth.org/h3 for more information and to volunteer. For questions about volunteering, contact Georgia Lucey at georgia.lucey@cchealth.org or 925-608-6700.

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City of Antioch gives notice of abatement of homeless encampment on 6th Street

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

They must vacate the site before Monday, April 16

The City of Antioch has become aware of a substantial encampment on the private property near the intersection of 6th Street and McElheney Road in the area immediately east of downtown. As the City is obligated to enforce the Antioch Municipal Code and a series of State and federal regulations, an abatement process will commence in the coming days. The City of Antioch has secured an Abatement Warrant and will post a 72-hour notice no sooner than Thursday, April 12 that will direct the occupants of the encampment to vacate the site before Monday, April 16 when the abatement is expected to occur. The Abatement Warrant authorizes the City of Antioch to take all necessary measures to correct the violations and pursue compliance with all applicable laws.

Based on currently available information, the City of Antioch finds that the accumulation of garbage, human waste, hazardous materials, and similar conditions associated with this encampment violate local zoning laws that prohibit blight and preclude a tent encampment in this zoning district. Further, these conditions may violate regulations relating to the protection of local waterways, as the site is immediately adjacent to a flood control area that discharges to the San Joaquin River. As this is private property, the City will pursue reimbursement for the cost of the abatement from the property owner through its ordinary process.

As part of the abatement process, the City will coordinate its efforts with the Antioch Code Enforcement Division, the Antioch Police Department Community Engagement Team (CET), City of Antioch Animal Control, as well as the Contra Costa County Health Services Community Outreach Referral and Engagement (CORE) team and Contra Costa County Mental Health Services. The Antioch CET routinely works within the community to refer persons experiencing homelessness towards County or non-profit resources for assistance. The CORE team establishes relationships with clients through regular communication and visits to encampments and shelters and serves as a point of contact and referral for many social services. The Antioch Code Enforcement Division has also notified local outreach groups of the upcoming abatement but cannot confirm that any such groups will be actively involved with the abatement process. Any questions regarding this effort may be directed to Forrest Ebbs, Community Development Director, at febbs@ci.antioch.ca.us or Curt Michaels, Code Enforcement Manager, at cmichaels@ci.antioch.ca.us.

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County eyes MicroPAD miniature homes as new tool to reduce homelessness

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

A MicroPAD miniature home can be towed to its location. Photos from Panoramic Interests website.

By Daniel Borsuk

Perhaps by this time next year, Contra Costa County officials will be offering MicroPADs as a new alternate form of housing in its repertoire of programs designed to reduce homelessness, a major economic and social issue that is, at least in this East Bay county showing signs of fading away.

Rendering of a MicroPAD interior.

The number of homeless individuals in the county declined seven percent from 2016 to 1,607 homeless persons as of Jan. 25, 2017, an annual report stated and accepted by the supervisors on a 3-0 vote at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Board chair Federal Glover was absent due to a death in the family and Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood was absent because she was recovering from a surgical procedure.

The county’s success in decreasing the number of homeless individuals or families living outdoors or in cars can be credited to the county’s wide array of federal and state funded programs and services worth $15 million last year.  Those services range from emergency shelters, support services only, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, street outreach and preventive programs.

MicroPAD interior view.

Next month the county expects to learn how much money it will receive from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in its newest service designed to further drive down homelessness – the MicroPAD, said Lavonna Martin, Director of Contra Costa County Health, Housing and Homeless Services.

The MicroPAD miniature, stackable home is a relatively new weapon in the fight against homelessness.  It is now in use in San Francisco, a city and county well known for its high cost of housing and homeless population problems.

Each 160-square foot modular prefabricated dwelling unit comes with a furnished bedroom, private bathroom, and kitchenette.  In Contra Costa, in order for a homeless individual to be eligible to occupy a MicroPAD he or she would have to pay 30 percent of their monthly income (i.e. SSI) towards rent, said Martin.

Contra Costa County could have as many as 50 MicroPADs available for eligible homeless persons.

Supervisors wanted to know if a site had been selected to place the MicroPADs, but the county homeless director said that a site has not been selected even though the county and City of Richmond were co-sponsoring a presentation at the same time the Board of Supervisors meeting was in session.  At the Richmond Civic Center presentation, a MicroPAD was on display for the public to see.  A similar MicroPAD presentation was conducted on Wednesday at the Richmond Civic Center.

Another interior view of a MicroPAD miniature home.

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond was slated to appear at Tuesday’s civic center presentation following the board meeting.

“We do not have a site set yet,” Martin told supervisors.  “We’ll be working on that over the next few months.”

“It’s going to be challenging to find the right location,” acknowledged Gioia.  “The homeless will not get off the street if you offer them shelter, but this (i.e. MicroPADs) will get them off the street because it is housing.  The challenge will be finding an appropriate location.”

Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville was also supportive of the MicroPAD concept that the county is pursuing.  “What can we do to effect a positive situation?” she asked.  “I am excited about the MicroPAD program with its small units and the support services that will be available for occupants.”

To view a news report by KRON 4 TV news with video of a MicroPAD home, click here. To learn more about MicroPADs click here.

Supervisors Accept Winter Storm Preparedness Report

During the Tuesday meeting, Supervisors also approved a report that the county is prepared for whatever amount of rainfall this winter season will bring.  The report on Winter Storm Preparedness in Contra Costa County was presented by Tim Jensen of the Public Works Department.

The report highlighted Walnut Creek Intermediate School’s “Stay Out Stay Alive” publicity campaign to warn students and the public about the dangers of Walnut Creek especially when it is full of raging water during a major rain storm.  Two years ago, two persons died when they fell into the rain swollen creek that that bisects the school.

The report also informed the public about the county’s sand bag stations, media outreach, newsletter, and flood control district webpage – http://www.cccounty.us/5906FloodPreparedness

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County’s annual homelessness count shows drop in number, shifting population

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Contra Costa’s annual survey to document people experiencing homelessness showed a 7 percent drop overall in 2017 compared to last year, but a substantial rise in Central County, according to a report released by Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3).

H3 and its community partners, including many volunteers, surveyed county residents living in emergency shelters or outdoors on Jan. 25 and released detailed findings this week in the 2017 Point in Time Count report, available at ccheath.org/h3

The report shows that 1,607 people without housing during that 24-hour period were counted, including 911 who were living outside. About 1,100 were documented living outside in 2016.

“We are glad that we found fewer people experiencing homelessness. But there is a great deal more work to be done, and the housing market makes it more difficult,” H3 Director Lavonna Martin said. “It’s not surprising that 80 percent of those we surveyed lost their housing right here in Contra Costa County.”

Substantially more people were counted this year in central Contra Costa – 331 living outdoors without shelter – after an atypically low count in 2016. Numbers did decline elsewhere, including East County, which had experienced a 30 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

Since the count, H3 and the Contra Costa Council on Homelessness have launched Coordinated Entry, a new initiative to streamline service delivery and enhance collaboration among the county’s network of nonprofit, faith-based and government providers of homeless services.

Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek all joined the effort this spring. Martinez and Pleasant Hill split the cost of a full-time, county-operated outreach team to connect homeless residents within their borders with shelter and services. Concord and Walnut Creek are splitting the cost of a second team, and Contra Costa’s Public Works Department also funds a team for the county’s creeks and waterways.

Those city-specific Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement (CORE) teams join three other CORE teams that operate elsewhere in the county. Other elements of Coordinated Entry include:

• Regional service centers connecting clients to shelter, medical and mental health care, case managers, substance use disorder treatment and services, benefit counselors, and long-term housing;

• Overnight warming centers that supplement existing emergency shelters;

• A universal, web-based information management system used by all providers of homeless services in the county to maximize use of their collective resources;

• A standardized intake and assessment system that streamlines delivery of housing and other services to the most vulnerable clients.

Coordinated Entry is funded in part through $1.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Contra Costa’s point-in-time count also fulfills a HUD requirement to document the extent of homelessness within jurisdictions receiving its funding.

Visit cchealth.org/h3 to read the 2017 Point-in-Time Count report.

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