Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Innovative, collaborative project launching in Antioch to uplift lives of homeless in Contra Costa

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Photo courtesy of White Pony Express.

SHARE Community and White Pony Express are pleased to announce that on September 29, 2020, the “Oasis Project,” designed to brighten and uplift the lives of unsheltered neighbors in our community, will be launched in Antioch, CA.  Among other services, Oasis will include a 2-unit Mobile Shower, and a Clothing & Care Closet, which will be stocked with high quality clothes that guests can choose from. To celebrate the opening of Oasis, a short ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at Golden Hills Community Church’s Community Outreach Center, located at 525 E. 18th Street in Antioch.

Initially, Oasis will be stationed at the Community Outreach Center and operated on Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  The Mobile Shower, which is ADA certified, will be the only operating shower unit for the unhoused in East Contra Costa County.  It will be free for the public to use with no questions asked.  Also, there will be no charge for any of the other services offered by Oasis.

Even though several partners are involved, the project is called “Oasis” to give it a unified identity.  During its operation, Oasis will include:

  • Mobile showers with bathrooms, organized by SHARE, that any guest is free to use.
  • A “Clothing & Care Closet” operated by White Pony Express (WPE) that will provide clothes that guests can select from free of charge.
  • Medical referral services provided by Contra Costa Health Services’ Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement team (C.O.R.E.), and
  • Free haircuts offered by licensed hair stylists.

“The opening of the Oasis Project on September 29 has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it makes me extremely happy that the project is now ready to begin elevating the lives of our unsheltered neighbors,” remarked Ricka Davis-Sheard, Co-Founder of SHARE Community.  “We have been working closely with the nonprofit LavaMaex in preparation for our launch, who has helped us with everything from in-depth training to troubleshooting issues with our Shower unit.  We have learned from an agency that has been around for years and which consistently provides a high level of care for their guests.”

Prior to its acquisition by SHARE, the Mobile Shower had been owned by WPE.  WPE volunteer Peter Brooks spent over two years diligently looking for a place to set up and operate the Mobile Shower, and in the process contacted numerous groups.

Finally, Brooks met Davis-Sheard at SHARE and was immediately impressed by her earnestness to help the unsheltered.  Says Brooks, “Ricka was the light at the end of the tunnel of my long search.  She saw the Mobile Shower as a perfect fit for the work SHARE wanted to do in East County.  What she had in mind was exactly what WPE had in mind.”

As the project evolved, Brooks suggested that the group of services offered with the Mobile Shower be called the Oasis Project.  “My hope is that the whole experience, for people in the ‘desert’ of hard urban homelessness, will be like travelers in the Sahara finding relief in an oasis.”

WPE operates the White Pony General Store which distributes high quality clothing, shoes, books, and games to those in need.  “For Oasis, our General Store will operate a well-organized, inviting ‘Clothing & Care Closet’ so that guests can make selections based on their unique tastes and needs,” says Eve Birge, Executive Director of WPE.  “The Closet will have items like shirts, jeans, jackets, shoes, undergarments, and other items useful to our unhoused neighbors.  WPE will treat those who visit Oasis as our special guests and support them with love and dignity, offering only our best.”

Concludes Davis-Sheard, “We want people to emerge from Oasis looking brand-new and transformed.”

The hope is that if Oasis is successful at its initial location, it can move to other locations across the County to serve the needs of the unhoused population.

About SHARE Community

SHARE Community was co-founded by Ricka Davis-Sheard and Vincent Vidriales in 2019.  Its mission is to share hope, abundance, resources and encouragement with members of the community and the organizations who serve them by creating ways for people to work together toward positive change.  In addition to mobile showers,

SHARE Community serves East Contra Costa County through its community programs Adopt-a-Block and Adopt-a-Senior-Home. These programs provide much needed care and attention to underserved neighborhoods and seniors.

For more information about SHARE, visit: www.thesharecommunity.com

About White Pony Express   

White Pony Express, headquartered in Pleasant Hill, CA and founded by Dr. Carol Weyland Conner in 2013, operates a Food Rescue Program which picks up quality surplus food every day from supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets and then delivers that food—free of charge—to shelters and churches that feed the hungry.  Since its founding in 2013, WPE has delivered over twelve and a half million pounds of fresh food.  WPE also has a General Store that has distributed over 500,000 items of high-quality clothing, toys, and books free to the underserved.

For more information on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org

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State grants $21.5 million for County to buy Pittsburg motel for homeless transitional care center

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Gov Newsom speaks at Motel 6 in Pittsburg to announce the state’s new Homekey program on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Screenshot from press conference video.

Motel 6 to be repurposed through a California Homekey Grant; site of Gov. Newsom’s press conference about Project Roomkey in June

A 174-room motel in Pittsburg now sheltering homeless Contra Costa residents at high risk from COVID-19 will become a permanent service hub to help county residents transition into stable living situations, thanks to a $21.5 million state grant.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) rented rooms at the Motel 6 at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to provide temporary housing through the state’s Project Roomkey program, which funded hotel rooms for residents who could not effectively isolate themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic because they had lost their housing. Gov. Newsom held a press conference at the motel about the program on June 30th. (See related article)

Homekey, the state’s follow-up program, will commit $17.4 million toward the county’s purchase and renovation of the motel, for a cost of $100,000 per room. The state will provide another $4.17 million toward staffing and operating the former motel as temporary housing for county residents experiencing homelessness, with on-site healthcare and behavioral health services, meals and assistance connecting with the services they need to regain housing.

“We are proud to partner with California in our work to provide safe, sustainable services for vulnerable members of our community,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

There were only 20 shelter beds available in East County for more than 500 people living outside there in January 2020, most in Antioch and Pittsburg. The county’s most recent homeless point-in-time count showed that 33 percent of residents living outside in Contra Costa were in East County, compared to 27 percent recorded there during the 2019 count.

CCHS will add the new East County CARE Center and interim housing program to its network of homeless service centers, shelters and outreach programs, helping to address an acute shortage of those services in the area.

“This is a great start toward the building services and resources East County needs to address homelessness,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes the site. “There is a critical need for this project in our community.”

The grant includes funding for case management, housing navigation services, meals and a robust peer support program, among other services.

“The funding allows us to accelerate our efforts to provide shelter for people living without housing in the eastern region of our county,” said Lavonna Martin, CCHS’s Director of Heath, Housing and Homeless Services. “This project creates a new interim housing option that allows for a greater degree of privacy and flexibility in household configurations we can serve, with the critical services and supports they need to regain permanent housing.”

Motel 6 was one of four in Contra Costa contracted to shelter vulnerable residents who had no housing early in the COVID-19 pandemic, partially funded by California’s Project Roomkey. CCHS is now renting 494 rooms at these motels to house people experiencing homelessness, including more than 200 people at Motel 6 who will continue to receive services and progress toward self-sufficiency under Homekey.

Visit cchealth.org/h3 for recent data about homelessness in Contra Costa County. Annual point-in-time count information is available in the Data Reports section.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Antioch Council changes homeless coordinator position from consultant to city employee

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Position still not filled 11 months after creating it.

By Allen Payton

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

After approving a resolution 11 months ago to allocate up to $120,000 to hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator as a consultant, during their meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 25, 2020, the Antioch City Council approved changing the position to a part-time city employee, instead. The change allows City Manager Ron Bernal to hire someone to fill the position, rather than send out another request for proposal (RFP).

The city had put out an RFP last fall, but only received one response, which was from Focus Strategies. The council awarded them the contract on January 28, 2020 in the amount of $73,500.

But the organization’s president, Megan Kurteff-Schatz, said they don’t do the hands-on work that the city was looking for in a coordinator.

“They won’t be able to do everything in the RFP. But they’re very capable,” said Nickie Mastay, City Finance Director, during the January 28th meeting.

So, one of the tasks assigned to Focus Strategies by the City Council was to work with staff on the Unhoused Resident Coordinator class specification. The salary range and part-time annual cost of the position was reduced by $20,000 to $100,000 maximum, but at the same rate of $50-$60 per hour. The coordinator will be under the general direction of the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts said, “as homelessness continues to be a problem in our community…I just think, I want to make a comment, how important this is to have a person on staff, even part time…helping people to transitional housing.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe then made the motion to approve the motion.

Far too much of our city manager’s time has been spent…this position will have someone specifically focused on this…I think this is well worth the investment,” Mayor Sean Wright said.

The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

Asked if he had someone in mind for the position or if it will be advertised, and if so when he hoped to have the person on staff, Bernal responded, “This will be advertised and go through the normal hiring process. I don’t have a time frame at this time but want to move on this as quickly as HR can facilitate.”

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Homeless hotel proposal moves forward on split vote of Antioch Council

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts speaks during the press conference at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

Note: Apologies, as I missed the first hour of the meeting so the public comments on the Transitional Housing Ad Hoc Committee’s proposal on the homeless hotel are not included in the article and the video archive of the meeting is not yet posted on the City’s website. Once it is the public comments will be added to this report.

All five council members supported a feasibility study. 

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council continued the remainder of their Tuesday night meeting on Friday night, to discuss the final agenda items, including discussion of the Transitional Housing Ad Hoc Committee’s proposal to lease the Executive Inn motel on E. 18th Street for use by homeless residents. The presentation was made by committee members Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Council Member Lamar Thorpe.

About 20 members of the public commented on the item before the council members took up the matter.

“As you’ve said, the key to whatever program you decide to operate there, for it to be successful, it needs to be robust enough to deliver the services folks need,” stated Kate Bristol, the consultant hired by the city to help on homeless issues.

“Joy and I have to do the groundwork,” Councilman Lamar Thorpe said. “That would coincide with the feasibility study, as well. Folks think homeless encampment. But that’s not what we’re doing at all. Ironically, right down the street from Rocketship (charter school on Cavallo Road) is a homeless encampment.”

“We’re happy to walk through the process with the public,” he added.

Mayor Sean Wright then said, “I think everyone is centering around a housing, first model. That’s what the nationwide studies are showing works.”

“What kind of collaboration has there been with the county supervisors?” he asked.  “They don’t think they’re part of the process.”

“That’s funny. I just spoke with Federal Glover, today. We had an extensive conversation,” Motts responded. “There’s a reality piece of this we’re looking at. It’s complicated. What I’m seeing over at Motel 6, so far, it’s being run very, very well and it’s a success, so far. It’s bridging people into permanent housing.”

She spoke of a couple and their experience at the Pittsburg motel.

“Literally in this short period of time…they’ve been over at Motel 6 since May,” Motts shared. “This has allowed them to get their life together. Get back on their feet. Get a job. I was pleased to see how quickly the program worked for them.”

“It won’t work for everybody,” she continued. “These are people that want to. These are long-term homeless and for them it’s working.”

“I’ve spoken to Federal Glover as well,” Thorpe said. “But the contact has been LaVonna Martin. So, I’m puzzled that you reached out to both of them to see if we engaged them. If the Supervisors want to be directly involved and sit at meetings with us, they’re more than welcome to.”

“I really, truly believe this needs to be a regional approach, working with the county. They have access to state dollars that we don’t have. With a regional approach we have more access to more money. Is that correct?” Wright asked.

“It strongly needs to be connected to what the county has,” Bristol responded, and spoke of the Continuum of Care.

“I hear you and it’s a good point,” Thorpe. “We never approached this absent of the county. The Continuum of Care we will always be a part of that. You won’t find any disagreement from Joy or me on that.”

“If we’re talking about bridge housing, then we’re talking about permanent housing. That’s the county,” he explained.

“There’s a different model, as the county is looking at Motel 6 as a purchase,” Wright said. “What we’re looking at, here is a lease year after year.”

“But it started as a lease. Then they said, ‘let’s look at buying the motel,’” Thorpe responded.

“What I believe is, they’re looking at the money that was set aside for the LMC location (in Antioch) to buy the motel,” Wright said. “Looking at a purchase is a much better model.”

“That’s something we’re looking into as well,” Thorpe responded. “But I don’t want to get sidetracked by that, when we’re looking at a lease.”

“That’s what I’m looking at, here with the lease by the city,” Wright said. “You can’t tell me we’re going to rent 32 rooms and not have a $1.2 million cost. It’s great that we’re helping 32 of them, that does not take away the cost from helping the rest of the homeless on the streets.”

“This is bridge housing,” Motts stated. “There’s lots of homeless on the streets. We’re not going to be able to help all of them.”

“I just wanted to give you an idea of what we’re spending, now. We’re continuously cleaning up encampments in town and moving people from place to place,” she said. “It’s expensive to do something. It’s also expensive to not do anything.”

“There are entities out there who are willing to make financial commitments to this effort. So, the entire cost won’t be born by the city,” said Thorpe. “But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I don’t want to make anyone believe there will be no cost to the city.”

He then made a motion to direct staff for a feasibility study to look into the lease of a hotel for bridge housing, and for our city manager to start the process of an RFP (request for proposal) to be sent out to hotel owners. Motts seconded the motion.

“I don’t have a problem with starting a feasibility process…but this RFP process, it’s sending out an RFP to the motels in Antioch. There are only three in Antioch. I’m not ready for that. If you want the city manager to look at the room rates, that’s fine. I’m for the feasibility and service models.”

“I’m fine with my motion. I understand the RFP process will take a little longer,” Thorpe said. “I’d like to have these things happen concurrently.”

“I just thinking we’re wasting time,” Motts said referring to waiting on the feasibility study before pursuing the RFP.

Wright then asked Councilwoman Monica Wilson if she had any comment.

“Waiting for the vote,” Wilson responded.

“Do we need a vote?” Ogorchock asked. “I thought this was direction.”

“For direction a motion is not required,” City Attorney Thomas Smith said. “But a motion has been made.”

“I’m in the same boat as Councilmember Ogorchock,” Wright said. “I’m all for the feasibility study. I think the RFP puts the cart before the horse.”

“Can you split it?” Ogorchock asked Thorpe of  his motion.

“I’m fine with one motion,” Thorpe responded. “We did an RFP for the five trailers and nothing happened.”

With no other discussion Wright called for a roll call vote. Wilson, Thorpe and Motts voted yes, and Wright and Ogorchock voted no, and the motion passed on a 3-2 vote.

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OP-ED: Antioch council candidate labels homeless hotel proposal a “bridge to nowhere”

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Manny Soliz, Jr. From LinkedIn.

By Manny Soliz, Jr.

I watched the press conference two weeks ago of our Transitional Housing Ad Hoc Committee at the motel on E. 18th Street about the plan to lease the entire facility for Antioch’s unhoused residents. My first thought was why are we having a press conference when the rest of our city leadership hasn’t even discussed this yet? They called their plan a bridge strategy.

It’s actually a bridge to nowhere. There’s no strategy to help the 30 or so people housed at a price tag of $1 million per year. There’s no substance abuse counseling, no help for people suffering from mental illness, no job rehabilitation services offered and no end in sight to the City’s financial commitment.

To add insult to injury, the City would lose about $100,000 per year in hotel occupancy taxes, funding critical to support the Animal Shelter and Animal services. How about the businesses along E. 18th Street, were they consulted about placing a homeless shelter in their midst? How do you think their businesses will be affected?

How about the residents living next to and in the vicinity of the motel? Do you think this will make them feel safer? Will this improve their property values?

How about the Mary Rocha Child Care center or the Rocketship Charter School both along Cavallo Road, were they consulted? Were they happy with this idea?

And perhaps the most alarming is that this “bridge” is a few hundred feet away from one of the 2 highest crime corridors in Antioch! Why would you place a vulnerable population so close to crime elements? This area is so dangerous, there was a homicide and a stabbing a few hundred feet away the week before the press conference.

Homelessness needs addressing at the County and State levels, given the complexity and scale of the issue. As a city, we cannot address this issue on our own. It is too costly and beyond Antioch’s sole ability to resolve.

Unhoused people are not one monolithic group, there are those suffering from mental illness, those afflicted with substance abuse and the people who have lost their jobs and then their homes. One approach will not help all the groups.

Failing to find shelter, in close proximity to the needed services, is incredibly sad, and a stunning waste of time and resources. The City has been talking about this issue for over a year, and we are no closer to actually helping those needing our help.

City leaders need to avoid the short-sighted approach of the bridge strategy and work as soon as possible to break ground on the proposed shelter, just east of Los Medanos College and adjacent to the county building where the needed services can be provided.

Once in a generation, a mistake of astronomical proportions is made by Antioch leaders. The last mistake of this magnitude was the ferryboat financial fiasco of the late-1980s. This bridge strategy is a costly bridge to nowhere.

Manny Soliz Jr.

Former Mayor Pro Tem & Council Member, City of Antioch

Current Antioch District 1 Candidate

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Unhoused writer asks what have the Antioch City Council members done for the unhoused

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Dear Editor:

This is an open letter to the city of Antioch per #CupOfJoBruno and Delta Peers. Specifically, this is a letter addressing the current city council. It’s close to elections and I’m curious why I should support you. Any of you. So, here’s the thing. I’m a Pittsburg native, and I am a proud Pirate. But Antioch is home to me. I have placed my heart in the waters that rest under the bridge. I have, like many others, marked my territory. I did what a lot of folks do, and I left home to experience life outside of where I was born. I traveled overseas and went to college in another state. But I find myself back here and I’m playing for keeps.

Currently without residency, living in my car, I am working hard to become the best version of myself. And even with the heartache and pain of my situation, I am quite happy with who I’ve become as I decide to watch y’all real close. As an anthropologist and a writer, I am observing you and waiting to write my critique. I see myself running for office as I grow into my purpose in Antioch. I feel I may even run for mayor one day. What’s a city, right? A lot of responsibly y’all. It’s a lot of responsibility.

Why haven’t you taken responsibility? Why haven’t you done anything for the unhoused population until we had a pandemic? The police department needed a good looking at prior to the countless murders of young black folks. Why are so many buildings unused and boarded up? Why have you dismissed your responsibilities and are you going to do anything different this time?

If I have personally spoken to you in passing, I know you know who I am. With all the kind words and motivational speeches, we’ve shared, I question who you are because I haven’t seen many of you act on any of it. As I move forward with establishing Delta Peers, will I see you at the table? I sure hope you hold true to your word because we need better support out here for the community. Y’all have seemed to forgotten your community and we are suffering out here. Y’all can do better, and I pray you start using the resources within the community so we can build better resources for the city.

Delta Peers is coming to the streets. We are bringing our voices and our skills. We are supporting each other and it’s time you support us too. Peer Support and mental health wellness is key moving forward as we rebuild Antioch. Y’all better get on the right side of history and make this city booming like it was when I came and visited when I was a child, in the mid-80s. We can’t ask for surrounding cities to help or join us, we are the wise old woman sitting on her porch with a shot gun, protecting her land. We help the other cities. Guide them. We are the leader here. And it’s about time we rise again.

So, show me why I am supporting you. Show us where our money is going. Show us all how you intend to improve the city that’s been stagnant the entire time you’ve been in office? Please, show us. We’ve been waiting for a long time.

Jo Bruno

Peer Action League Member for California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organization (CAMHPRO)

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Councilmembers propose leasing Antioch motel for homeless, possible FEMA trailer site

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street. Photos by Allen Payton

Up to $1 million annual price tag

By Allen Payton

An idea first proposed seven years ago, by a then-homeless Antioch man, Rafael Scott and the late Mike Pollard, of the Golden Hills Community Church’s Community Outreach Center (COC) to use the unrented motel rooms at the Executive Inn, located next door at 515 E. 18th Street, received a breath of new life, Tuesday. Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts, joined by advocates and representatives of ministries and other non-profit organizations serving the homeless in Antioch, announced on Tuesday a proposal to have the city lease the entire 32-room motel to serve as transitional housing.

Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts speaks during the press conference.

Thorpe said he was making the proposal “as a member of the transitional housing task force (the new name for the Antioch City Council’s Homeless Encampment Task Force), with Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts” and “working with our business community.”

“It was her vision, her idea,” he said. “So, she’s the reason we are here, today.”

“We started this journey almost two years ago. We really didn’t have any idea what we were getting into,” Motts said. “Homelessness is a very complex issues affecting many, many people. We did much, much research.”

“We were spending millions and millions of dollars moving people from one place to the next,” Motts stated. “It’s affecting our commercial businesses and our quality of life. We received trailers from the state we’re still trying to find a location for. I’m so thankful to the owners of the Executive Inn…to provide transitional housing…to get people off the streets. 97% who get into housing stay there.”

We are very fortunate to have a local hotel willing to work with the city to house people on a transitional basis,” Thorpe said.

Owner Summer Desai interviewed by a KPFA radio reporter in one of the rooms with a single king-size bed.

Summer and Jyoti Desai have owned the motel since 2004.

“The county voucher program lasts 16 days at a discounted rate year-round,” Summer shared. “The voucher is good for 16 days once a year. It’s mainly for jobless and homeless. It’s only temporary.”

They Desais work with the county’s action team for mental health services, with Red Cross and the Contra Costa Crisis Center, for people in crisis due to a fire or flooding of their home. They also work with Shelter, Inc.

“A lot of churches place their people, here,” he said. They work with the Golden Hills’ COC, next door to temporarily place people in the motel rooms, and allow them use the lot for parking.

A few years ago, Golden Hills Community Church expressed an interest in buying the motel, but the asking price of $3 million was too much. When asked if he knew about the councilmembers’ proposal, Scott said, “No. I just wish Mike were here to know about it.” Pollard passed away on Monday, July 6th. But, his and Scott’s idea may just soon be more than realized depending upon the vote of the city council. Their three-page plan proposed using the unrented rooms, which at that time were running about 40% of the motel’s occupancy, at a discounted rate for homeless individuals, as long as they were in a program at the COC to help them with such things as substance abuse problems.

The plan now is for the city to rent all the rooms at a discount, and connect those staying there with programs and services to help get them into permanent housing and mainstreamed back into society. Those staying at the motel could be there for as long as six months, Thorpe stated.

“I don’t have any problem people, here,” Summer shared. They pay a daily rate. We provide them service every day cleaning the rooms and beds. We are the only hotel that is pet friendly.”

Thorpe introduced others in attendance at the press conference. Including “our friends from Shelter, Inc. We have Love Never Fails. We have Michael Gabriel representing the downtown businesses that have been affected; Nichole Gardner, a leading advocate for homelessness in Antioch, Extended Hands Ministry, Patrice Guillory from Health Right 360 for people who have been previously incarcerated.

“This is a call to action to all East County cities. We can’t rely on the county to do all of this work,” Thorpe stated.

Nichole Gardner of Facing Homelessness in Antioch said, “I’m excited to see the city trying to do something for our homeless out on the streets. We need to get people off the streets and be productive members of society. She thanked the council members and motel owners. Mariah Williams was also in attendance representing Facing Homelessness in Antioch.

Vanessa Russell, the founder and executive director of Love Never Fails which focuses on human trafficking in Northern California, spoke next.

“Human trafficking is coming to Antioch,” she stated. “To get people housing is the right thing. Many men and women are sold online. We came into contact with two people who were being sold right here, in this area out of their hotel room.”

Russell spoke of the effort, “to come to these specific areas where people are being exploited…to provide them food, stabilization, counseling, services. IT training to give them sustainable jobs. Not giving them fish but teaching them to fish on a daily basis.”

“She has made a commitment that she will provide some sort of wrap around services,” Thorpe shared.

Patrice Guillory of HealthRIGHT360 which focuses on health, housing and services for homeless and those who are formerly incarcerated, spoke next, saying “Our mission is to give hope and change lives.”

They’ve helped 120 people this year struggling with homelessness and other challenges.

One of the rooms with two queen size beds.

“There’s no greater time than now to tackle the problem of homelessness in Antioch,” she said. “Individuals with a history of incarceration are 10 times more likely to be homeless. Our over reliance on law enforcement is not only ineffective but wholly inefficient.”

Long time resident of Antioch and downtown business owner, Michael Gabrielson said, “We’ve been there for almost five years…we’ve seen the despair of homelessness in Antioch. This will be an improvement not only in their lives but in the community’s lives.”

“This type of transitional housing will give them support, reestablish themselves and get into permanent housing,” he continued. “If each city would take an initiative like this it would have a huge impact on our community.”

“We’re taking this to the city council, to give direction to our city manager for the potential long term lease of the entire building, all 32 rooms, plus the suites…so the homeless providers can work,” Thorpe explained. “Summer is also offering to allow the five FEMA trailers to be located on the property.”

“The initial costs are a little north of $1 million,” he shared. “But that is nothing compared to what we spend chasing people from corner to corner. It’s not working. So, we’re proposing this.”

Asked about the 16-day limit for vouchers from the county Thorpe responded, “Our goal, in generalities and principles…everyone is on a different path. Some people may be here for only a week before they find housing with relatives. What we don’t want to do is have a set policy of 16 days and tell them to get their life together overnight.”

Asked how many homeless we have in Antioch Motts said, “the last count we had 300 but with all the students and families we probably have 600.”

The Golden Hills COC, located next door, has been working with homeless and those in need in Antioch for the past 20 years. Asked why no one from the COC was included in the press conference, Motts said, “We’re going to be working with them, the pastor here already serves meals in the community for the unhoused. We’re also speaking with Loaves and Fishes. Sutter Delta is fully committed to helping.”

“This is like the governor’s turnkey program,” she explained. “We’re hoping the state will support it.”

Asked about a budget that could be approved on July 28 so the program can immediately move forward, Thorpe responded, “we can set a cap of how much.”

The next council meeting will be held online on Tuesday, July 28 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Watch it via livestream on the city’s website or on Comcast cable Channel 24 or AT&T U-verse channel 99.

If you wish to make a public comment, you may do so any of the following ways: (1) by filling out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, (2) by emailing the City Clerk prior to or during the meeting at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us, or (3) by dialing (925) 776-3057 during the meeting.

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Governor Newsom visits Project Roomkey motel in Pittsburg to announce “Homekey,” the next phase in state’s COVID-19 response to protect homeless Californians

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Gov. Newsom speaks at Motel 6 in Pittsburg to announce the state’s new Homekey program, with a sign language interpreter nearby, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Screenshot from press conference video.

  • State and counties will spend upwards of $1 billion to purchase hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and tiny homes and provide services to the homeless
  • State effort has served an estimated 14,200 individuals in three months
  • 15,679 hotel and motel rooms and 1,345 trailers for extremely vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness to help flatten the curve & preserve hospital capacity

PITTSBURG (June 30, 2020) – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Project Roomkey motel in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County to highlight progress that the state and counties have made in providing safe isolation capacity to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 and to launch Homekey, the next phase in the state’s effort to protect vulnerable homeless Californians from the pandemic.

Homekey, backed by $1.3 billion in newly available and eligible funding through the budget the Governor signed yesterday, will allow for the largest expansion of housing for people experiencing homelessness in recent history, while addressing the continuing health and social service needs of this vulnerable population.

Under the Homekey program, counties will partner with the state to acquire and rehabilitate a variety of housing types: hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, residential care facilities, and other tiny homes. All these new placements will serve people experiencing homelessness.

Counties and cities across the state will identify which buildings they intend to purchase and apply to the state for $550 million in grant funding dedicated to this purpose. Once acquired, the local governments will plan for the long-term social services and subsidy needs of the Homekey buildings, with access to $50 million in dedicated Homekey support and an additional $300 million in general local homelessness support which can be used for Homekey, among other priorities.

In addition to these fund sources, counties and cities can access billions more in additional federal stimulus funding which, while available for a variety of purposes, is eligible to be used to provide safe shelter for homeless individuals during the pandemic.

The Governor also announced $45 million in philanthropic support – $25 million from Kaiser Permanente and $20 million from Blue Shield of California – for a new services subsidy fund directed at counties that are implementing Homekey. These contributions, originally announced in January as part of the Governor’s proposed Access to Housing Fund, were redirected by the companies to support the Homekey effort.

Acquisitions and conversions undertaken as part of Homekey will benefit from new legislation that the Governor signed yesterday, providing a CEQA exemption and automatic zoning compliance to new homeless housing utilizing newly available state and federal funding.

“We’ve long dreamed about scooping up thousands of motel rooms and converting them into housing for our homeless neighbors,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “The terrible pandemic we’re facing has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy all these vacant properties, and we’re using federal stimulus money to do it. Hand in hand with our county partners, we are on the precipice of the most meaningful expansion of homeless housing in decades.”

The Homekey initiative builds upon the state’s current COVID-19 response effort, Project Roomkey, which has directly led to 15,678 hotel and motel rooms statewide being made available for this extremely vulnerable group of Californians. Over 14,200 people have been served by Project Roomkey motels since the epidemic began, according to estimates from the California Department of Social Services.

These Project Roomkey placements are spread across 52 counties and 293 hotels. The counties are responsible for identifying which individuals need a Project Roomkey placement, and then moving those individuals into the rooms.

See below for video of the governor’s press conference, today. It begins at approximately the 4:00 minute mark.

Governor Gavin Newsom provides an update on the state’s initiative to secure hotel & motel rooms to protect homeless individuals from #COVID19.

Posted by California Governor on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

 

In April, Governor Newsom announced a reimbursement partnership with FEMA, whereby local, state, and tribal governments are eligible to 75 percent cost-share for Project Roomkey activities, including hotel and motel rooms and wraparound supports such as meals, security, and custodial services.

These emergency protective measures are protecting public health by isolating the medically-vulnerable, thinning out the shelter population for social distancing, slowing the rate of spread of COVID-19 and, in turn, flattening the curve.

Homeless policy leaders and local elected officials have long called for hotel/motel conversion as a strategy to bring housing for the homeless online quickly and cost effectively.

Nan Roman, President & CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness: “The National Alliance to End Homelessness commends Governor Newsom and the State for their innovative and unwavering commitment to reduce homelessness via Homekey. Homekey is the logical and much-needed next step to Project Roomkey, California’s smart strategy to protect people experiencing homelessness in the COVID-19 pandemic. Homekey recognizes that homelessness is a public health AND a housing crisis and seizes the opportunity of the moment to increase the state’s affordable housing stock and target new units to those most in need.”

Philip Mangano, former Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for Presidents Obama and Bush: “Today Governor Newsom backs up his priority on homelessness with a $600 million investment to move homeless people off the streets and beyond shelters to starter homes. In his focus on housing through hotel/motel conversions the Governor is building on an initiative that reduced exposure to the virus and now offers a statewide strategic approach to produce more units faster and cheaper. That’s good for the taxpayer and good for homeless people.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Chair of the Big City Mayors Coalition: “California’s big cities feel the crisis of homelessness most acutely. On behalf of my dozen colleagues in the Big City Mayors Coalition, I express deep appreciation to Governor Gavin Newsom and Legislative leadership for creating the Homekey program, demonstrating their commitment to partner with our cities to confront the urgent needs of our unhoused residents. In unprecedented and uncertain times, we are grateful for the strong commitment of our state elected leaders to supporting cities on the front line working to end homelessness and human suffering.”

Heidi Marston, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA): “We’re grateful to Governor Newsom for his leadership and support of Project Roomkey. As a result of his quick and decisive actions, we were able to shelter more than 4,000 people most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, providing not only a roof over their heads but a safe space to isolate. Through this endeavor, we’ve proven we can bring people indoors quickly through strong partnerships between government, business, and community leaders. We have built momentum that we will hope will help us move folks from Project Roomkey into permanent housing.”

Tomiquia Moss, Founder & Chief Executive, All Home California: “California’s homelessness crisis preceded the COVID-19 pandemic. The State was creative in its response with the Project Roomkey initiative ensuring a safe housing response during this public health crisis. Recognizing the opportunity to purchase hotels and motels and provide housing options for people experiencing homelessness, California continues to demonstrate leadership in responding to this crisis. This approach will secure thousands of units statewide working in partnership with cities and counties and community based organizations. It will take strategies like these during this economic and public health crisis to ensure our most vulnerable residents aren’t left behind.”

 

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