Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Five FEMA trailers for temporary, transititional housing for homeless delivered to Antioch

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Caltrans employees towed the five FEMA trailers to the City of Antioch’s maintenance faciliyt on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2019.

Expected to be located in Fitzuren Road lot; will serve as residence for eight months

Inside one of the trailers.

By Allen Payton

Five of the state’s 100 FEMA trailers left over from the Camp Fire, were delivered to Antioch on Saturday, as part of the governor’s response to the homeless crisis in California. They will be used as temporary, transitional housing for homeless residents in the city to move them out of encampments, provide better access to services, and ultimately into permanent housing. (See related article)

Mayor Sean Wright and all four Antioch City Council members were in attendance for the arrival of the trailers at the city’s maintenance yard, as well as City Manager Ron Bernal, Lavonna Martin, the Director of Health, Housing and Homeless Services for Contra Costa County, a representative of Senator Steve Glazer’s office, and Jo Bruno a homeless resident in Antioch. They each took turns looking inside the three of the trailers.

Each trailer can house between six and eight people.

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Councilman Lamar Thorpe tour the inside of one of the trailers.

Who will occupy the trailers and where they will be located have been the main questions from Antioch residents. In addition, officials in attendance were asked when they will be occupied.

According to Antioch Councilman Lama Thorpe, who was one of the two members of the council’s ad hoc committee on homeless encampments, “the state has criteria for who gets to live in the trailers. Today marks the beginning of the timeline. Plus, the property needs to be found. I think the state’s focus is for those currently living in encampments.”

Asked if they would go to families with children who are currently living in cars, Martin responded, “we have individuals sleeping outside without any protection. It’s very difficult to provide services to them when they’re moving around. Families with children aren’t typically outside sleeping without protections.”

“Many encampment dwellers have already been living together for a number of years. That’s their family of choice,” she continued. “How do we work with them to help them into permanent housing?

An employee from the city’s maintenance department shows the outside sink, refrigerator and stove.

“Right now, we are working to push out a request for qualifications for a non-profit organization to be a provider of services. Our CORE teams are already out in the community identifying individuals living outside,” Martin shared. “The governor has not mentioned a timeline. It’s no longer an eight-month program. These are now being supplied to the cities so we can work with them as long as it takes to move them into their permanent residence. Then that opens it up for another encampment.”

Asked where the trailers will be located, City Manager Ron Bernal responded, “we will be going through the planning commission and city council approval process for the location. This is for emergency housing for homeless. The property on Fitzuren Road is in the process of being transferred from the county to the city. It’s our primary location we’re considering. It has electricity there, it has sewer and water close by, it has gravel down. The fire department has determined it can serve that location.”

The planning commission is expected to vote on a recommendation at one of their meetings, this month and then the council will make the final decision in April, Bernal explained.

The five trailers currently located in the city’s maintenance yard.

 

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Antioch to receive five FEMA trailers for homeless Saturday morning

Friday, February 28th, 2020

In the City of Antioch’s effort to reduce homelessness, city officials applied to the Governor’s Office to be selected for five FEMA trailers that can be used to support homeless individuals and families. The City was selected to receive all five of the total 100 trailers the state is distributing. (See related article).

The trailers are part of Governor Newsom’s efforts to combat the homeless crisis in the state. They will be managed by a non-profit homeless service provider to be selected by competitive bid through the county. The five Antioch will be receiving can each provide emergency housing for three to four  people.

Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3) will work with those who will temporarily call the trailers home. H3 integrates housing and homeless services within the health system and coordinates housing and homeless services across county government and in the community. As the administrator for the homeless Continuum of Care, H3 works with key partners such as the nonprofit homeless and housing services providers, law enforcement and cities to develop innovative and community-specific strategies to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Where the trailers will be located in Antioch has yet to be decided.

The trailers will be delivered at 10:00 AM on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 at the City of Antioch Maintenance Yard, at 1201 W. 4th Street.

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Homeless Antioch resident shares concerns, discussion group in downtown for mental health and wellness

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Dear Editor:

With pride, A Cup of Jo Bruno (ACoJB) presents a bittersweet blend of warmth and sacred space while providing an opportunity for delta life to be recognized for the unique attributes to downtown Antioch. While currently homeless, ACoJB is building a community with the folks who know the rituals of delta living. As seasons change, the early morning routines will be met with fresh coffee, baked goods and special guest appearances from local advocates and funders of upcoming development in the area. Before the normal business hours of downtown Antioch, there is a unique opportunity to strengthen what has since been lost; community. Community builds family, and downtown Antioch has lost family along the way because we have forgotten our community. We seem to have forgotten a lot.

Antioch is a shadow of what it once was. It’s at the dark side of the moon. The tides keep rising and falling and the fish are still biting, but downtown Antioch is the hidden gem that seems to be looked over. Surrounding cities, and even mid/up-town Antioch are being developed where folks are spending their money in the newly acquired space. However, from Highway 4 to the Delta waters and A Street to Auto Center Drive, not so much. I could even throw in the Antioch Mall to this region of Downtown Antioch. What’s really going on folks? Maybe we don’t want new people here. Maybe we don’t want the oldtown feel to change. Maybe we don’t trust outsiders. Maybe we are just too scared to open our arms to something that will change the unique beauty of our culture. As a matter of fact, it very well could be because we are still fighting amongst ourselves and blaming others for our inability to accept our unique culture for what it is. But, regardless of the reasons or opinions of others, we need to develop downtown Antioch.

There are layers here. There are dark corners, shady ledges, and some low-down places along these delta lines. The homelessness. The drugs. The death along the tracks. The hidden secrets of women and the most dangerous of situations. The missing girls and boys. Drug and human trafficking. The beauty of small-town business and their owners. The unseen truths of trade and barter. The respect and honor held between strangers as they share a joint and enjoy the colors of our delta sunrise and sunset. There are those who smell of the waters from coming back from a fishing trip and others who are still sleepy-eyed, going out for their first attempt at fishing that day. The piers have lines dropped every day. You’ll find, in some hidden corners, an attempt to take a life, save a life and even birth a life in the marshlands of the delta.

We are all shades of ghetto and rock and roll. We love low riders with miniature tires and hydraulic jumps. Don’t get us started with the sideshows and loud music. Or the spray paint tagging you’ll find along the train tracks. The trains themselves are constant with their horns, too. Road hogs, Harley’s, and crotch rockets can be found in parking lots all along the water line. There’s the industrial side of things where the dust is kicked up from outside forklift use. The semi-trucks are constantly in and out of our driveways. The grease is on our knuckles, mud on our boots, and weed in our pockets. In a blink of an eye, we’ve seen two dispensaries show up. Thank you! But we won’t ever forget the backwoods dank. Bottom line, we don’t do much, but we do it all together. We watch out for each other. We keep our distance when we need to. We are as dysfunctional as any other community family and it’s about time we show the Bay Area what we’re about.

The laughter, the tears, the anger and pain. The love, the compassion, the secrets and rewards. The humor, the slang, the language and cultures. We are a breed of river rats with foul mouths and a don’t-give-a-darn attitude. We’ll jump from pleasant to ratchet in a split second then buy you a drink. We are the misfits, the rejects and troublemakers. We don’t listen well, but we know how to talk. We break rules, create new ones, and we’ll change them regularly depending on the situation at hand. Those who live, work, and play along the entire delta are a special culture of folks. Within that delta line is the small corridor of downtown Antioch. We are like none other.

Many are ignorant and blind to the street life, however. Folks are consistent with their failure to shut their mouths and open their hearts. Or their wallets. The privileged don’t recognize the pain of the poor but the poor is rising in community. Watch out, y’all. Soon, you’ll see community gardens providing fresh food for our local schools. How about innovated solutions for our homeless? A place for our youth to kick it? Or what about a comfortable atmosphere to explore some of that deep-rooted delta trauma we’ve experienced? We’ll have workshops and trainings available to help with mental health wellness. We need it because, the truth is, those of us with roots along the delta know it’s a constant struggle. The old family roots come with new beginnings because things are changing so rapidly. Folks want to heal their ancestral pain. The development of oldtown Antioch is inevitable, and it’s intriguing to see who’ll succeed in bringing us new business. Where will the community decide to spend their money when the new developments come? Will these new developments try to kick us out?

If you pay close attention to the community of delta life, you’ll find a breed of folks who’ll love you deeper than anything you ever experienced. We watch out for one another and if someone’s in trouble, we tend to rally together and help. We are dirty but clean when we need to be. Sometimes we fight. Folks will pull a gun, shoot out your tires, talk shit all day long, but come to hug each other after smoking a blunt. And seriously, be careful. You leave your car running while you run inside to get something, it might get taken and later found along the backroads with no tires. We have that red, sippy cup lifestyle with straws and drinks on ice. You’ll find us taking shots, talking shit and playing pool. We’ll throw some dice, flirt with the visitors and maybe even hook up with a stranger. We love to eat. We’ll cook for you anytime. We know how to get something when we need it. You’ll find survivors out here.

And, one thing is for sure, what you won’t find out here, along the delta, is judgment. Sure, we may not like you but we ain’t gone judge you. Sure, we may ask you to leave our establishment, but you’ll never be judged. Most likely, you’ll become a story we tell the locals. Or maybe you’ll fit right in and become a local. The thing is, down here, you could be a person of color or transgender and come across someone who is uneducated who uses a derogatory word. It might make you mad. Or even piss you off. But it isn’t because we’re disrespectful, it’s just, truth is, we’re a breed of folks who don’t care. It’s not that we don’t care about you and your overall wellbeing, because we do want you to succeed in life. Truly. But what it comes down to is that we don’t care what you do or who you do it with or how you’re doing it. Just don’t interfere too much with our lives. It’s no joke down here, at the delta water line. You’ll find culture alright, just make sure you’re ready for it because we’ll never change. Or leave. Don’t come down here getting your feelings hurt. We don’t want your Starbucks. We don’t want your corporations. We don’t need any more liquor stores or mini markets. We have enough hair solons, tattoo shops, and thrift stores. Let’s calm down a bit with all the churches, huh. I don’t really want to get started on the massage industry either, but please stop. And seriously, the solution for restrooms at the marina are ridiculous. We can do better than outhouses and cement buildings that resemble a prison cell. Antioch, we can do better.

The new developments will be challenged by the locals if it doesn’t already fit into our culture. Some folks have tried, and they’re no longer in business. Sorry, not sorry? Folks from other parts of the Bay come into Antioch, thinking they can add to it by creating something new. Not quite. Stop trying. It doesn’t work. Learn the culture and community before you build here. Learn the voice of the delta before you start telling us to change our ways. Learn the pain of our homeless before you tell us to leave. This is our home, too. Take our word, trust us. Listen to us. We know. We’ve been doing this for many generations, and there is a new vision coming. Work with us.

We ask that you learn something before you come into our hood and try to rebuild us. City representatives and the old money still in this town need to learn from us, too. Y’all think you know what we want? Come talk to us and I bet you don’t. I’ll throw my money on any bar to bet that you have no idea what we want down here. Or what our interests are. Or how we see our own community being developed. Honestly, in some situations, we’re still arguing amongst ourselves. The bottom line is that it’s time y’all start throwing your money where it’s needed. Come talk us. We have answers. We have innovated ideas and solutions for the millions of dollars you’re confused about spending for your community’s needs. The land that is owned by the city needs to be used for proper structures, programs, and development. We’re such a unique culture down here, don’t try to change us.

This piece is solely the voice and opinion of Jo Bruno, a Pittsburg native who has called Antioch home since 2002. She spent many hours along the tracks as a young adult, working in the deep industrial side of delta life. Jo’s lived experience and education allows her the authority on Peer Support in Contra Costa County. Currently a Peer Action League Member for California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMHPRO), she is advising on how to build policy so Peer Specialists can finally be recognized in the state. California is one of only a few states that don’t recognize their Peer Specialists, so Jo is advocating for more Peer Programs in east Contra Costa County. Jo Bruno is also working with Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Department, Mental Health Services Act, and advising multiple committees and organizations (i.e. 211, Health Leads (BALI) and more). Together, throughout the Bay Area, they are working on changing the stigma of homelessness and mental health while encouraging advocacy and self-expression to change public policy in Contra Costa County. Jo is a significant bridge between millions of state and federally funded dollars and East Contra Costa County. The system is flawed, and she believes we can make forward movement without disrespecting the already strong community in downtown Antioch. Starting in the early morning hours of Spring 2020, ACoJB will be open for discussion and solutions regarding the topics of how we can develop our city together.

Tony’s Beer Garden is established by a long-time entrepreneur in the restaurant and bar business. The opinions, discussions and projects are in no way associated with Tony, but the Beer Garden’s outside environment will hold space for discussion and event planning. It’s where we will fundraise, have open forums, and concert events to bring awareness to our unique culture. At this establishment, we will begin providing Peer Programs that Jo is establishing with an up and coming peer community, The Delta Peers. The Delta Peers is a collaboration of Peer Specialists throughout Contra Costa County who have lived experience within the mental health systems. We are peers who have lived experience with many platforms and systems. We are trained professionals who can bridge resources to the community needs. Tony’s Beer Garden is located at 809 W. Second Street in Antioch

Jo Bruno

Antioch

www.acojb.com #CupOfJoBruno – a long time self-publication platform for mental health wellness and healing trauma

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Antioch Council hires consulting firm to provide advice on homeless services instead of a coordinator, for now

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

Very little money of the $500,000+ the council set aside last year has yet to be spent. Thorpe doesn’t want homeless problem solved, just homeless encampments eliminated.

By Allen Payton

Rather than hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator, at their meeting on Tuesday night, Jan. 28 the Antioch City Council approved an agreement with Focus Strategies to serve as a consultant on Unhoused Resident Coordinator services at a maximum cost of $73,500. The action is the result of the council’s decision to create the position last fall. (See related article).

A request for proposal (RFP) was issued seeking applicants for the position and Focus Strategies was the only firm to submit a proposal. The council will now rely on them to help better develop another RFP to fill the Unhoused Resident Coordinator position.

“They won’t be able to do everything in the RFP. But they’re very capable,” said Nickie Mastay, city Finance Director.

Megan Kurteff-Schatz, the organization’s president offered an introduction of Focus Strategies and their services.

“We’re really excited to work here, because we’re…increasingly committed to working in cities facing crises like Antioch is,” she said. “I was really excited to see this trailer program application, tonight. Antioch is really committing resources for a city your size.”

“I like your proposal,” said Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts. “It’s obvious you’ve…identified what we’re looking for…having a coordinated homeless response system. I’m excited about your proposal and what you can bring to this effort…and have the task force work with you.”

Thorpe then asked, “When you say coordinated crisis, can you describe that for me?”

“The coordination needs to happen between crisis response and housing…linking those resources with housing resources,” Kurteff-Schatz responded. “To see homelessness go down you have to have both…to move them into a permanent housing solution. System optimization, taking the array of services and shelter opportunities available to folks in Antioch, and making sure those with the highest needs are served, first. The longer people have been outside a really long time, the harder it is to bring your numbers down.”

“The third element is…permanent housing…moving people out to permanent housing,” she shared. “What we’d be looking at…is Antioch has full access to all those resources…for some of the long-term permanent solutions.”

“The phrase concerns me,” Thorpe said. “We specifically titled it the Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee. We didn’t want to solve the homelessness program because we don’t have the capacity to solve the homelessness problem. So, we were very specific. We talked about this, coordinated services…everything under the sun. What I think we took away from this, we better understand the county’s effort. The challenge…is while people wait for services…wait for permanent housing…we open…a day center. I don’t want to get caught up in the continuum of everything. What we need to do in this city is reduce the number of encampments. We need to get people housed. I love this trailer idea…to house people as they wait and go through this process. So, I get concerned when we talk about all the services.”

“It is about learning more about what is the appetite, what is the city council’s expectations, what we deliver and what we work toward is what the council fully intends,” Kurteff-Schatz responded. “You’ve set aside monies for this particular purpose, where the city and people see a direct benefit. What we can bring is strategies. A lot of work has already been done. What we can share are other options and other connections. I’m not talking about Antioch participating in the greater Continuum of Care. What we can bring is a lot of information and a lens of what happens when you make certain choices.”

“There are various people doing various things on their own and there isn’t a lot of coordination,” Thorpe said.

“We think all of the activities you identified are important. We are a consulting firm…the day to day locating things in the community is outside what we do,” Kurteff-Schatz shared. “We were very clear in our proposal what things we can do and what things we don’t do.”

“In your proposal it says you would be meeting with a team. Who is our team? Is that you, Nickie?” Ogorchock asked.

“Currently our staff is me, Nickie, Forrest Ebbs, our community development director, and Terri House has been working with us a little bit. So, that’s our team for now,” said City Manager Ron Bernal.

“Would you be pulling those together, the stakeholders…to have a conversation?” Ogorchock asked.

“We will help you figure out what resources you need,” Kurtzeff-Schatz said. “Use us as little as possible.”

“My thought process through this is that we wouldn’t be doing anything without coordinating with the county,” Motts said. “If we had your help…it’s my understanding the county supports those efforts through non-profits and other agencies. Community cabins and Tough Sheds, they’re not actually run by the city, they’re run through non-profits.”

“It’s not totally clear to me, yet, hopefully it will be. It seems to be a number of options that could be powerful, here in Antioch,” Kurtzeff-Schatz said. “Given the nature of the unsheltered crisis you have here, there’s more the city you can do. But, that depends on what options you decide to do.”

“I love the concept of having a business like yours, telling us what we should do, what other cities are doing,” Mayor Sean Wright said. “But, as this came to us, what we were looking for is a worker bee to take this off the plate of Ron, off the plate of city staff. That was the nature of the hire. Even with a worker bee we should be utilizing an organization like yours. So, you would be consulting the worker bee. “

“We put out this RFP with the expectation we would get someone,” Bernal explained. “We were excited about Megan’s proposal, because a firm like hers with the wide range of experiences…to find the best solution or solutions. But, for a worker bee, we are going to have to hire someone.”

“I feel whole heartedly we should move forward with your organization,” Wright continued. “But if we hire you and you tell us to do X,Y and Z but don’t have anyone to do X,Y and Z…we really don’t get anywhere. So maybe we table this until we have that person.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Ogorchock said. “If you started Monday how long would you be able to put a plan in place?”

“At the 30 days we could have a list for staff to do…I think that’s reasonable,” Kurtzeff-Schatz said. “At 60 and 90 days you’re refining that…what local options would cost. Putting out RFP’s, deciding what you’re going to do. I don’t think it’s important that you have your key staff person in place, first…if in fact it’s not Ron and his team.”

“I personally don’t want to kick the can down the road any further. I like the idea of finding out what we can do and then hiring the person for that position. Maybe you can find the person to hire. It doesn’t make sense not to start,” Ogorchock stated. “Staff has already done a lot on this. I say start working on this sooner rather than later then work on that other piece.”

Council Member Monica Wilson then asked if they could help the city with hiring the worker bee.

“Whatever you decide to do needs to fit in with how you do business and what you see working,” Kurteff-Schatz said.

“The issue is we did an RFP looking for a person for this position without being specific,” Wright said. “But if we have you help us we can…utilize your expertise to go back out with an RFP in getting the right person.”

“I don’t see why we can’t do both,” Motts said. “I think Megan can help us develop what we’re looking for in that position.”

“That’s what I was saying,” Wright replied.

“Who helped us write the first RFP?” Thorpe asked.

“Actually, it was the council who helped us write the RFP,” Mastay responded.

“Your proposal is an hourly rate. So, if we went through Phase I, then we put that on hold and go out to hire that person,”

“So, we’re still running things ad hoc-like,” Thorpe stated. “You, Nickie, Teri and the ad hoc.”

“In the interim we would be doing what we’re doing now,” Bernal stated.

“So, the money we set aside at the end of last year we haven’t spent any of it,” Thorpe stated.

“Very little,” Bernal said.

“I’m personally fine where we are. I was really fixed on the coordinator person. This is yet another kind of delay. It’s important we get someone on the ground moving,” Thorpe added.

“If we say no to this we’re right back to where we started,” Wright said.

“I’m agreeing,” Thorpe responded.

Motts then made the motion to approve the agreement and Ogorchock seconded after clarifying

“Is there a need for clarification that this would be a phase one, and then there would be a pause, it could be a very quick pause, until we hire someone. Then we can move into phase two,” Wright said.

“That’s Ron’s job to determine the scope of work and the timelines,” Thorpe added.

The council then unanimously approved the agreement.

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Antioch Council agrees to apply for five units from Gov. Newsom’s Homeless Trailer Program

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Screenshot of KPIX 5 CBS San Francisco Bay Area report on Gov. Newsom’s homeless trailer program.

By Allen Payton

During a hastily called special meeting before their regular meeting on Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council voted to direct City Manager Ron Bernal to apply for five trailers from Governor Newsom’s new program to combat homelessness in the state.

“It’s come to the staff’s attention in the last week, or so, in which they are deploying 100 trailers that were used for the Campfire,” said Bernal. “They want the trailers out and occupied as soon as possible. The City of Antioch threw our name in when it was first brought up. My interest tonight is to see if the city council wants me to pursue and apply for five trailers for the City of Antioch.”

He said the city will be “Working with Contra Costa County Health and Homeless Services coordinator to work with us…for services provided to the occupants.”

According to the city staff report, “Governor Newsom recently unveiled a program to deploy 100 state owned trailers to qualifying Cities and Counties throughout the state for the purpose of housing the homeless. Initial discussions with the Governor’s office have resulted in Antioch being a potential candidate for 3 to 5 trailers that can house up to 10 individuals each.

The details about utility hook ups and other improvements that will be required to accommodate the trailers are still unknown. The City Manager is looking for direction if the City Council is interested in pursuing this opportunity. The Governor’s Office is requesting that applications are due by end of day Wednesday January 29, 2020.”

All but one speaker during public comments supported the idea.

“What an opportunity to take care of two problems,” said Joe Bosman, who owns property on Wilbur Avenue where a variety of people live in trailers in an unlicensed trailer park, during public comments. “We have a homeless problem and we have a housing problem. Our housing problem, I believe has been neglected. I have a property that can accommodate the trailers.”

Resident Fred Hoskins was next to speak proposing the council create a commission on homelessness.

“What we have here looks like a good opportunity to deal with homeless in Antioch. But it’s more complex than just saying, ‘oh, great, we’re going to accept this,’” he said. “Here’s what happens. We have to look closely at the homeless problem in Antioch and adopt the solution in Antioch. It always goes to the county. First, you need to establish an organization, call it a commission, or whatever, and really get involved in this subject. There are going to be costs that the city will have to incur. I suggested we adopt the resolution that’s says, ‘yes, let’s have five trailers’ and place them on the lot across from the Antioch Lumber Company. They must be screened. Someone has to interview the people who will occupy it.”

Homeless advocate, Nichole Gardner said “I’ve been hearing, why is the city putting money toward homeless services, why are we getting trailers. If you don’t want people in front of your businesses, then duh, be thankful. I just don’t get the logic. So much of it doesn’t make sense. It makes me think a lot of this is politics. These are God’s people. If it doesn’t work at least we can say we tried. Stop complaining about the city doing something different than they’ve been doing.”

“Speaking on behalf of the homeless crisis we have in Antioch,” said Vicki Proctor “I’m thankful…that you’re moving in the right direction. You gotta start somewhere. I’m glad about the money set aside for the homeless coordinator. I thank you for taking this into consideration. I believe Gov. Newsom is doing the right thing offering the trailers to the City of Antioch.”

“This is a great idea. I meet a lot of people who are struggling with homelessness,” said Mariah Williams. “It would be another awesome idea if we could find some used RV’s and keep moving this forward.”

“I guess I’m going to follow suit and say ‘thank you.’” Vicki Robinson. Thank you for having this opportunity for us. I’m just hoping this doesn’t…drag on for a long time. I applaud what you’ve done. I’m just sad it took so long. I’m just happy we’re doing it.

Long-time Antioch resident, Danny Stills was the only public speaker to offer a different perspective and opinion.

“I want to speak on behalf of the majority, I would say the unpopular majority in this city, the homeowners,” he said. “The homeless problem is everywhere. I think the decision here is what kind of city do we want to be. We’re becoming a homeless encampment. This is a water pistol to a forest fire. Getting housing for the long term, that’s the solution. Attracting people to live here for free. All this talk about an image…is that what we’re talking about? I believe in toleration. But, if we’re going to become that city, who’s going to come here? I…worked in Savannah for a couple years. No tent cities. Why? There was no toleration. I don’t want trespassing. I don’t want any loitering. I want the police to enforce the laws.”

“Remember the homeowners,” Stills added. “How much is this really going to help? Get some real solutions, some job programs to get them off the streets.”

Barbara Kias, spoke next saying,, “I’m from Concord. I just want to say you have a great city. I’m really excited that you’re doing something about it. I’m going to recommend Concord do the same thing. I work with the homeless. It’s a balancing act. It’s not easy.” She offered her services to assist people with resumes.

The council then took up the matter.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts asked, “Are there any requirements where these can go?

“I think Gov. Newsom just wants these to be used. There are no requirements,” Bernal responded. “I think they want to make them available immediately. They want them deployed and occupied within eight weeks, as I understand.”

Council Member Lamar Thorpe responded to some of the public comments.

“Our efforts are not, as a city, to replicate what the county is doing…or default to the county,” he said. “I’m also very excited. This is just an application. It doesn’t guarantee anything. We already set aside close to half a million dollars to do something similar. I don’t want us to take our eye off the ball of where we were going in the first place.”

“The unhoused resident coordinator makes this a reality,” Thorpe continued. Then responding to Stills, he said, “I’m more than happy to walk with you through our streets. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, we’re taking every residents’ interests into account. I do agree that the county is trying to get people housing, permanently. We are trying to get people temporarily housed, in the meantime. Or we will be dealing with people not showering, defecating on our streets. So, I’m happy with supporting the recommendation.”

“It’s exciting to hear about an opportunity to get trailers to help people who are not housed,” Council Member Lori Ogorchock stated. “It says 10 individual each. How did you come about that?”

“The trailer on the dias, is a typical trailer we would be applying for, that houses three to four people,” Bernal responded.

“Do they have kitchens and bathrooms?” Ogorchock asked.

“I do not know. They were used for the Campfire. So, I assume they have restrooms,” Bernal responded.

Ogorchock asked where they would be placed and how long before the approval and expressed concern with placing them on Bosman’s property, where he has plans to develop, and the trailers would have to be relocated.

“He would have to force them to move,” she stated.

“We do not have the property identified, yet. Mr. Bosman is offering his property,” Bernal stated. “We don’t know about the hookups and all the requirements from the state. We expect to have all the infrastructure in place by the time they get here.”

“The will be ours we won’t have to give them back,” Ogorchock stated.

“They will be the City of Antioch’s,” Bernal said.

“I definitely think this is a step in the right direction,” Council Member Monica Wilson said. “I’ve had groups say they have funds that can help. People are saying Antioch is taking this seriously. If they don’t have an address, how can they get a job? I do hear the whole job situation come up. But, if you don’t have someplace to live, some jobs won’t even consider you.”

“We have to remember we have families on the streets…living in their cars,” Mayor Sean Wright stated. “They’re the ones we don’t see. Our student of the year from Antioch High School had one of our citizens put their trailer on their back yard. Because of that he was able to go through high school and earn a full ride scholarship. As we understand the homeless, there is a spectrum. There are families in our community that can benefit from this. I recommend and support this.”

“I think it’s important that the community understand this is transitional. It’s emergency housing,” added Motts. “As long as people’s lives are in chaos, there’s not much they can do. This is a critical step in the right direction…in finding other temporary housing solutions to get our people off the street. It’s an economic development issue, it’s a health issue. Thank you, Mr. Bernal for taking action on this.”

Thorpe made the motion and Ogorchock seconded the motion to direct Bernal to apply for the five trailers from the governor’s program.

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Antioch Council to hold special meeting on Tuesday about Gov. Newsom’s homeless trailer program

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Screenshot of video from the Twitter feed of the Office of the Governor of California showing trailers being towed to locations throughout the state to provide temporary shelter for homeless residents.

By Allen Payton

In an effort to combat the homeless crisis in Antioch, Mayor Sean Wright called a special meeting of the city council for tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 28 to get approval to pursue Governor Newsom’s homeless trailer program.

City staff recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager to apply for Governor Newsom’s Homeless Trailer Program.

Earlier this month, Newsom directed his staff to use 100 trailers from the state fleet, that can be used as temporary housing for homeless residents. He revealed the trailers in East Oakland during a “statewide homelessness tour”, earlier this month, according to news reports. They are part of a broader plan that includes mobile health and social services clinics – to be deployed across the state to communities in need, and makes available state crisis response teams to assist local communities in utilizing state resources to aid in local efforts.

The meeting will be held at 5:15 p.m., prior to the council’s regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park located at 4703 Lone Tree Way.

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Antioch Council agrees to spend $150,000 on list of items to help homeless

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Effort to wait on $100,000 of items until Unhoused Coordinator is hired fails

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Nov. 12, 2019 the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to spend $150,000 from this year’s General Fund budget on seven specific ways to help the homeless. An effort by Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock to delay half of the items at an estimated cost of $100,000 until the Unhoused Coordinator position is filled failed. (See staff report, here: Funds for Homeless ACC111219)

Those items include spending $50,000 annually on what the staff report labeled as Quality of Life: dumpsters and “Sharps” containers for used needles at $5,000, portable toilets for $5,000, portable shower units at $10,000, laundry services at $20,000 and another $10,000 on miscellaneous items.

Another four items labeled Immediate Short-Term Housing, totaling $100,000 include motel services (vouchers) for $10,000, safe parking lots at a cost of $35,000, warming centers for $45,000, and another $10,000 on miscellaneous items.

During public comments, one speaker said, “I certainly think the $150,000 can be raised to $500,000. But, no options for long term solutions were selected until the unhoused coordinator is hired. What happened to housing, first? It’s a land-use issue. Not a consultant issue.”

The council then took up the item.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts was first to speak, saying, “We made some decisions and you had some estimates there, but they’re the same. I’m a little confused because we all supported them at the last meeting. I do think it’s critical we have someone on staff who can look at these issues…then look at, possibly, transitional housing.” (See related article).

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said, “On the first page we all agreed these are imperative, at the last meeting (referring to the list of Quality of Life items). My request would be we have the homeless coordinator to look into the (Immediate Short-Term Housing) needs. Safe parking lots…motel services. I’m not saying these shouldn’t be done.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe then made a motion to allocate $150,000, and Motts seconded it.

Ogorchock then asked to split them, to have the first five items totaling $50,000 from the items totaling $100,000, to wait for a homeless coordinator to “come back to do these things. We have no staff person to look into these things. Are we going to just put the money into an account and let it sit there?”

Motts then said, “As I remember we did agree to do all of these…before the unhoused coordinator was in place.”

“You two voted against the homeless coordinator, then we laid these out to accommodate you,” Thorpe said responding to Ogorchock.

“Nobody from staff has been delegated to do these jobs,” Ogorchock stated.

“I too remember discussing this,” Councilwoman Monica Wilson said. “It sounds like we’re about to discuss ourselves out of doing something. We do have the flexibility to spend what we want.”

“The number is $150,000 and we don’t take that lightly and these are the categories,” said Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs. “We do want to get these programs started. We can start coordinating to direct these services to Antioch.”

Mayor Sean Wright then asked for a roll call vote and it passed unanimously.

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Antioch Council agrees to list of solutions for homelessness in city

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

Will consider approving budget costs at next meeting in November

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Oct. 22, the Antioch City Council received reports on homelessness and impediments to fair housing and by consensus, approved a list of solutions.

First, the Council voted unanimously to adopt the 2020-25 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. They then received a report on the 2020-25 Consolidated Plan Needs Analysis on Housing and Homelessness by Teri House, Antioch’s Community Development Block Grant and Housing Consultant. See report, here: Housing & Homelessness Needs Assessment

She quoted the report, stating “Communities where people spend more than 32% of their income on rent can expect a more rapid increase in homelessness.”

The report shows over 51% of households in Antioch are facing at least one of the following housing problems: lacks kitchen; lacks complete plumbing; severe overcrowding; or sever cost burden.

House spoke of those residents who are rent burdened by paying more than 30% of their income toward housing and severely rent burdened by paying more than 50%.

“Black households are almost twice as severe rent burdened as white households,” she stated.

“Only 56% of our households are not lower income by HUD’s standards,” House said about Antioch.

“Contra Costa County needs another 31,000 affordable housing units to meet the needs of low-income residents in the county,” she said, according to the report.

The county’s solutions to the homelessness problem includes the goal of building 5,000 new housing units in the county that will “remain affordable forever”.

In Antioch, according to a survey, residents said two of the greatest barriers to housing and services are: Agencies lack sufficient capacity/resources, lack of services and lack of housing.

Solutions include financial assistance, job development, housing services for special needs and foster youth, sanctioned encampments, mobile showers, port-a-potties, and safe parking, more shelter beds and cities to provide land to build emergency housing.

No members of the public spoke.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts asked, “are there parameters for non-profits who want to apply for the grants?”

“We like to fund all of our non-profits with $10,000. But…we can go down to $5,000,” House responded.

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock thanked House for the report and mentioned the part about victims of domestic violence that was included in the report.

No council action was required on the report.

List of Solutions in Antioch

However, during a separate agenda item, the council approved a list of solutions to the homelessness problem in the city. The funding for each will be considered at their next meeting in November. The list was developed following several meetings by the council’s Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee, with recommendations from the public, and discussion by the entire council at one of their meetings in September.

The first principle upon which the list of items was determined, included health and safety issues of “human waste, the needles and trash,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. The second principle was the immediate, short term shelter needs during the winter months. The third principle is the long-term housing needs.”

The list is not all encompassing, he added.

The solutions include dumpster and Sharps containers, near homeless encampments, so the needles can be collected and disposed of in a safer manner.

“The city has installed three port-a-potties in Antioch, at a cost of $400 per month per location. We’ve absorbed it into our budget up until, now,” Bernal shared.

Another discussion is portable shower units, and he referred to Shower House Ministries, which also provides clean clothes to homeless.

“Another way would be to provide vouchers so people can go to laundromats. I estimated a budget of $10,000 as a starting point,” he stated. “The city

“Motel services in the form of vouchers could be issued to folks. Approximately $100 per night would be adequate. We don’t know the availability in Antioch. The estimate to jump start that would be $10,000.

“The warming centers and shelters have mostly been provided by the faith-based community which open up their facilities during the winter months,” Bernal mentioned.

“The county is working to purchase land and put together a warming center. But, that’s a couple years out,” he said. “The Antioch Library is being considered as a warming center…from November through June for families, during the winter and through the end of the school year. The cost estimate would be $250,000 which would serve 10 to 15 people per night.”

“A safe parking lot program would cost about $35,000 through the spring of next year and serve 35 to 50 people per day,” Bernal added.

Long Term Solutions

The city council could provide more funding to help people transition out of homelessness, which could be done through the county through the Continuum of Care.

He mentioned Tough Sheds or other forms of low-cost housing but, wanted to wait until the Unhoused Resident Coordinator was hired and in place.

Public Comments

Nichole Gardner was the first to speak during public comments.

“I wanted to make the five of you a promise. If you fail to face homelessness…head on…we advocates will do whatever we can to make sure you are not in that seat come 2021,” she said. “Please believe these voices will be heard. You will be held accountable for your actions.”

Last year I cried during the winter months. I felt hopeless. Tonight, I feel hopeful,” Gardner continued.

“You won’t see us coming for Sean Wright. But we will come after Mayor Wright. Not only do the homeless and advocates want the homeless off the streets, but the business owners do, too. Shelter and housing is the best way to get that done.”

One speaker who was a victim of domestic violence, who said her boyfriend killed her daughter, shared about her own experience of addiction and homelessness and desire to start a program for homeless.

“I was never on the streets, in a tent,” she shared, because she was able to stay in motels. “So, I don’t know how it feels to be on the streets.”

Jimmy Gordon, “I’m a recovering addict. The first is still at-risk citizens at 701 Wilbur Lane (a non-sanctioned RV park). The second reason I’m here is to advocate for homeless on the street. The man who let me move in at 701 Wilbur gave me respect and held me accountable. Not everyone who is homeless are dope fiends, running around. Some are out there. But, some of us just want a hand up. Please, please keep it going. I’m just a mere person. But, I’m a person with a vote and I am registered. I want to see where your compassion and your love for your fellow man.”

Leonard Hernandez was next to speak, saying, “The dumpsters. Thank you for the dumpsters. They’re popping up. It’s good. They’re filling them up. Unfortunately, some people are putting washers and dryers in there, which aren’t from the homeless. But at least they’re not being dumped on the highways.”

“Sycamore, you’d be surprised. We probably have 15 of the homeless people there cleaning all along the railroad tracks. Thank you for the orange garbage bags. They need to be thicker.

“You know we have 300 children who are in the Antioch Unified School District that are homeless, which should not be,” he stated.

“Port-a-potties are popping up. There could be more. We’ll see what we could do.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe was first to speak, saying “The ‘thank yous’ go to those who came to our ad hoc committee. What we’re talking about, today are what the residents of Antioch asked us to look into. I’m for most of these things. In the areas where we’re talking about the showers, I have some concerns. We have facilities throughout the city that aren’t being used for two-thirds of the year that have showers. Thank you, Ron for the pause on the challenging task that will be the permanent and transitional housing. I think it’s going to be a huge proposition.

Motts then suggested the council go through the recommendations, one by one.

Before that happened, Councilwoman Monica Wilson said, “yes, hold us accountable” and reiterated what Thorpe mentioned about using facilities that are underused.

Ogorchock said, “I too, want to go through theses.”

Option #1 – Providing Dumpsters where needed and Sharps

“I’m for that,” said Thorpe.

“We may want to expand on that,” Motts said.

“It’s where staff sees the need is,” Wright said.

“If they are out and about more people will use them than the people intended,” Ogorchock shared.

#2 – Portable Toilets

“I’m for that,” Thorpe said, again.

Motts suggested adding them to the area near the Main Post Office.

“I would ask that go back to staff and Code Enforcement, as they know where the need is at,” Ogorchock stated.

“We have to use public property,” Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs pointed out.

#3 – Portable Shower Units

Ogorchock thanked the coordinator for Shower House Ministries, and mentioned White Pony Express, which might offer that, as well.

“We’re not committing to any one organization, only committing an amount, then staff will go out and see what to do,” Thorpe stated.

#4 – Laundry Services

Providing a mobile laundry service at a cost of $100,000.

“I’m for a voucher program,” Ogorchock stated. Thorpe agreed, “until we get the Unhoused Resident Coordinator in place.”

Immediate Short-Term Shelter

#5 – Motel Services

“It will help those in short term need at a cost of $10,000,” Wright said. “There are a lot of women and children in need and as I’ve tried to help them, there is no place for them to go.”

“How do we make sure who we’re helping are Antioch residents?” he asked.

“You’re an Antioch resident when you’re standing, here,” Ebbs responded. “We have a fluid, itinerant housing population, here. I don’t know how we would go about determining who is and isn’t an Antioch resident.”

Ogorchock suggested using Shelter, Inc. to distribute the vouchers and determine residency.

“The city running their own motel voucher service brings up liability issues,” Ebbs said. “There are folks who deal in motel vouchers.”

LaVonna Martin from the county was asked to address the issue.

“There are agencies who issue motel vouchers,” she said. They’re issued to people receiving the services.

“They only allow three to five days, then fall back into homelessness,” she added.

“Is there a way to help it not be so temporary?” Wright asked.

“There are also laws when it comes to tenancy. You can’t stay more than 28 days,” Martin said. “That’s why they’re usually seven days or less…for them to get a plan in place.”

“Can people stay in one motel then go to another?” Ogorchock asked.

“You’re talking about musical motel rooms,” Martin responded. “It helps if they can move from one room to another. But its inconvenient for families to pack up and move.”

“The police department can put people up…on a case by case basis with discretionary funds,” Martin explained, responding to a question by Councilman Thorpe.

“When it comes to this, we can think of all kinds of reasons it can be difficult, on a cold, winter night…if we’re talking about an initial cost of $10,000…I recommend we go forward with it,” Motts shared.

“If we do it outside of the Continuum of Care there are no follow up services,” Ogorchock said.

“$10,000 goes very quickly, if we’re talking about a motel/hotel voucher,” Martin stated. “Out here..they go for $85 a night.”

“The intent behind this is not to use motels as transitional housing, it was to be emergency housing, if the police find someone who is old or frail on the streets,” Ebbs stated.

#6 – Warming Centers

“It isn’t a different program. Yes, last year we went through a community process,” Martin explained. “Those buildings that aren’t typically used in the evening. The Antioch Library allowed the use of their building for families to come in during the winter months. Unfortunately, we could not find an operator. Once, again we would be happy to explore that for families or individuals who are experiencing homelessness to come in.”

“Last year, the funding on this came from the county. This year the funding would come from our General Fund,” Wright said.

“$250,000 for 10 to 15 persons,” Motts said. “I’d rather work with our faith-based organizations…and try to take advantage of that. We also have facilities, here that are city owned.”

“Whether it be a city facility or not, the cost would be the same,” Wright responded.

“Most of the funds are start up costs, the tents…” Martin said. “But that picture would be different if you use volunteers, when the faith-based community comes in. We have great faith-based communities, here that already know what to do.”

“The Winter Nights Program is using faith based facilities,” she shared, in response to a comment by Mayor Pro Tem Motts. “They’re just two different models.”

“I think we can pursue the Winter Nights Program working with the faith-based communities,” Ebbs said, in response to Wright’s comments in favor of using that instead

“We have facilities we never use. The Nick Rodriguez Center…the Water Park sits empty two-thirds of the year. I’m not for giving someone rent when we have the facilities. What we’re trying to do is get people off the streets. I understand connecting them to services. But we shouldn’t keep that from getting people into shelter, overnight.”

“The library has no intent of charging rent,” Martin stated. “It’s a matter of staffing. You have labor laws with people working more than eight hours.”

“You still have to get cots, someone to maintain the facilities,” Ogorchock pointed out. “You can’t have families and men in the same facility. So, we need separate facilities. I would not count this out. I think we should look at the number (cost) for the program.”

“None of these suggestions are in our out, they’re still accessible, they’re not two separate things,” Thorpe said. “People will have access to the Continuum of Care.”

Wright summed it up that there is support for the idea, with the request for better cost estimates.

#7 – Safe Parking Lots

“The city owns several parking lots in the downtown area,” Ebbs said. “I can think of three or four. I don’t want to panic anyone by announcing that, tonight. The city owns several lots throughout the city.”

“I think this is critical,” Motts said. “Trying to find a safe place to stay every night, especially for families…”

“I’m for this,” Thorpe said.

“Yes,” said Wilson.

“As we look to the Unhoused Coordinator, we will be looking for more long-term solutions,” Wright said.

“I wanted everyone to have these in mind, that we’re looking at long-term solutions,” Ebbs interjected.

“Lots of people are falling into homelessness and many more are just on the edge,” Motts said. “My recommendation is as soon as we get the coordinator on, they be looking into all the options, and other programs around the state.”

No motion was made but, Bernal asked to have the budget items to come back at the next meeting, as “we don’t have the cumulative for all this.”

“This is not going to eliminate all the encampments,” Thorpe stated.

“But I think it is important to point out all of these were brought out in our meetings,” Motts said.

“I am concerned that the seniors…how we can keep them in their homes,” Ogorchock added.

 

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