Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Antioch Council majority moves forward on bridge housing for homeless using motel, still no details on funds approved in 2019

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Figures add up to greater than 100%. Graphic from City of Antioch Update on Unhoused Strategies.

3 support 2 oppose before total costs are known; council will also consider Barbanica’s use of Pittsburg motel for Antioch homeless residents; motel not yet selected, only one responded to City’s RFP last year; another RFP will be sent out seeking program operator

Council wants to postpone sewer rate increases due to COVID-19, will decide during public hearing on June 8th

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 23, the Antioch City Council split 3-2 on giving direction to city staff to develop a request for proposal on establishing a bridge housing program using a local motel. Councilmembers Mike Barbanica (District 2) and Ogorchock (District 3) opposed the effort. Barbanica instead wants the city to coordinate with the county in securing rooms at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg to be used for homeless Antioch residents. Ogorchock was concerned about both the “astronomical costs” of the proposed program that will increase each year, and the lack of a total budget.

The council was not provided the total costs for the program because the proposal presented did not include the lease of a motel. Only one motel responded to the request for proposal (RFP) sent out by the city asking if any were interested, last year. Discussions with the owner were ended until the council made the decision to move forward with the bridge housing program and to determine what kind of program would be offered there.

Now, another request for proposal will be sent out seeking an organization that wants to operate the program and will provide what the real and total cost figures will be.

The result is the city still has yet to spend most of the funds from the $517,000 the council approved in November 2019 to help the homeless. Mayor Lamar Thorpe pointed that out and wanted to remind Jazmin Ridley, the city’s unhoused resident coordinator, that he wanted her to implement a motel voucher program amid other ideas, such as providing showers, using the remaining funds. However, Barbanica, said that City Manager Ron Bernal told him only $140,000 of those funds are remaining. Yet, in the city staff report no information was provided to the council of how much of those funds has been spent and on what. A request for a list of expenditures from those funds has been requested from Bernal.

Unhoused Strategies Report

The city’s new Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley presented the staff report on the Unhoused Strategies for the city. She shared the statistics on homeless residents in Antioch, that 75% are from within the county, including half from Antioch.

City of Antioch Goals on Homelessness

Ridley also shared about “the goals that we can meet” including:

  • Decriminalize homelessness and develop strategic encampment resolution policies focused on linking unhoused people to shelter, housing and services.
  • Invest in temporary housing and shelter that provides a pathway to housing.
  • Participate and leverage the Contra Costa County homelessness response system (H3 – Health Housing & Homeless Services)
  • Build partnerships with community partners and community-based efforts that complement City-funded and regional strategies
  • Engage in data-informed planning and investments

The program would include 30 beds to serve the estimated 238 homeless residents in Antioch, with stays of up to four months.

Program Options

Ridley also shared a list of options to assist homeless residents, which include: Homelessness Prevention Services; Street Outreach Services (CORE – the county’s Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement team); Safe Parking Sites; Sanctioned/Safe Sleep Encampments; Housing Problem Solving Services; Motel Vouchers; Tiny Homes; Rapid Re-Housing Rental Assistance; Permanent Housing Vouchers and Motel Temporary Housing Program, which is the bridge housing approach the council directed staff to pursue.

Estimated Program Services Budgets (Without Motel Lease)

In the proposed annual Services Budgets for the three options for a bridge housing program, most of the money would be used to pay staff salaries and benefits of about $310,300 to $506,219 out of the total estimated $450,000 to $858,000. The remainder would be spent on operations. Only $18,000 to $45,000 would be spent on financial assistance for those in the program. Services Budgets for 3 Bridge Housing Program Options

Public Comments

“The amount of money that the city could potentially spend is outrageous,” wrote George Medeiros. “This way of thinking is why residents are wanting to move out of Antioch. This is not what I call Opportunity Lives Here.”

Michelle Lujan wrote that she supports the bridge housing program.

Nichole Gardner wrote about the help she and her team provided to one woman to stay in a motel, recently.

“This type of project could help so many people,” she said. “Because they too are seniors, are Black and brown and endure injustices by our police department, they too are veterans. It is up to you to be bold enough to do it.”

Lucille Meinhardt wrote, “I support any effort to help those on the streets.”

Joy Motts wrote in support of the effort.

“You have the choice before you tonight to do something about it,” she wrote. “You may say it’s too expensive. But the City of Antioch spent over $1 million moving homeless encampments, last year.”

Mina Guevara spoke on behalf of her father, George offering prepared remarks. (NOTE: Not all of the remarks fit within the three-minute limit. They are provided in their entirety below.)

“He asked me to speak on his behalf,” she said. “As life-long residents of Antioch, we are concerned with how the City of Antioch has dealt with the unhoused population.

Even listening to the speakers tonight, it is painfully frustrating. I respect the work that the consultants and Ms. Jazmin have mentioned. But this is not a new problem. The roots of this problem are not new.  Yet, we are spending thousands of dollars on programs that have yet to culminate in anything besides adding more jobs to people in the city and our unhoused neighbors being overlooked and unwanted.

Today, we know the root of most homelessness – mental health needs, addiction, domestic violence, and often people who work jobs but do not earn enough to live in this increasingly expensive community.  We know what people need. Why can’t we just stop “researching” and “proposing” and start providing?

My family runs a 501(C)3 dedicated to providing food to those in need. We work closely with the homeless in Antioch and East Contra Costa.   As in, often six days a week we are visiting with the unhoused, using the act of breaking bread to build relationships and help find solutions and avenues for supporting these community members who need help.

The thing is, in the last nine months, as we feed people and connect daily – we have yet to see anyone from the City reaching out to help.  Excuse me – I do want to give Councilwoman Orgorchalk credits as she has met with many unhoused neighbors with us many times and has worked to provide the help that we or the individuals were not able to obtain.   For example, one unhoused member had been desperate calling for medical aid from CORE for months.  It wasn’t until Councilwoman Ogorchalk made persistent calls and she get CORE to visit this man and provide him the medical aid he needed.

The unhoused are just as frustrated by the City of Antioch as we are.

How the city is spending our tax dollars is concerning.  As someone who works compassionately and tirelessly with the homeless, I am concerned that thousands of dollars are available, but not available for the people who can benefit most.

I have asked city leadership and staff about where the money for the FEMA trailers has gone. I have asked about the job position of a homeless advisor.   Porta-potties were given and then taken away – the same with water stations.  CORE is inconsistent and offers a band-aid for a solution.  And when I say band-aid, I literally mean band-aids.  And now there is a new program on the agenda – but what faith should we have in you as city leadership to do what you saying you are going to do.  The track record is not great.

Even listening to Mr. Curt, the amount of debris from homeless encampments is frustrating to listen to.  He does acknowledge it is a complicated problem.  But, just as recently as December, a camp was razed and there is more debris now than there was when people lived there.  The dumping problem is easy to blame on the unhoused, but – I’ve seen people come in a make major debris dumps in the camp.  I’ve seen stolen cars stripped.  It’s easy to blame the unhoused – but that is a resident issue – irresponsible residents not wanting to pay for legal dumping.

Ms. Ridley even just stated that data leads to the solution.  So, what I get from that is that thousands of dollars have been invested into this problem and there have been no solutions. And solutions will be layers. But what data can you show me that supports the actions that have been taken in correlation to the money that has been provided for the city.  Transparency to showcase data-led solutions would be welcomed by the community.

It seems like there are problems. We all see them.  We see there is money to be provided for the issues around the unhoused.  But all we see is money being used in non-transparent ways and the problem being pushed from one side of the city to another.

I question how this new program is going to benefit the actual unhoused population in Antioch?  How this money is being spent should be clearly communicated to the public.  How can we trust that you are going to do what you say you are going to do?”

“Antioch residents, housed and unhoused, deserve better leadership and better solutions than this,” Guevara concluded.

Council Discussion & Decision

“We need wrap-around services there…to get to some type of permanent housing,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said.

“If you’ll look at the back of the services budget, you’ll see you will have a couple case manager and a couple service managers,” said Kate Bristol of Focus Strategies, the city’s consultant on homeless issues. “The county has a robust variety of services but they’re hard to access. You’re going to have a whole array of different pathways for people to get out back into housing. There’s no one-size fits all.”

“The service providers might be on sight all the time or during the week,” Wilson said.

“The case managers will be there during regular hours,” Bristol said. “But you will want to have someone there all the time. The intensive services will be there during regular working hours.”

Torres-Walker “I get the frustration from the last speaker and it definitely felt heartfelt and my heart is open. As someone who spent their young adult years homeless and sleeping in parks…then moving on to home ownership I can understand how difficult it is to get all the streets.”

“Tonight, we’re not voting on a hotel or a hotel for trailers but a budget and recommendation for services,” she said.

“No. What we will do is be asking staff to put out an RFP (request for proposal)…and giving staff direction to look for great opportunities, like the state’s Homekey program,” Thorpe responded. “We would be asking for the bridge housing request for proposals. We’ve already done the request for proposals for the hotel. We received one. But the negotiations stopped because we didn’t know what kind of services we’ll be providing.”

“I just want to be clear about that,” Torres-Walker continued. “I did talk to Mr. Bernal about the whole motel model and it’s my understanding that’s on hold for several months. Because the Executive Inn is in my district and right up the street from my home. Living here, as well has not been a walk in the park and there’s a lot of work in the community around this motel…that raise a lot of concerns for me.”

She asked that the council “consider as we are spending time to get this set up that we spend time and resources in making the community safe.”

“All of the hotels are in District 1,” Ogorchock said. “So, if this program goes forward it will be in District 1.”

“Do you have the costs for the lease on the motel because it’s not in here,” she said.

“We’re talking about the bridge housing concept,” Thorpe said.

“But that would be part of the cost,” Ogorchock said. “So, even if you’re looking at the bridge housing and motel setting those aren’t the total costs.”

“The final costs will come once we have a service provider,” Thorpe said. “We will send out an RFP and agencies will respond to it and give us the final numbers. We’re not budgeting anything…because there has been no proposal that has the services and hotel.”

Ogorchock pressed again about the total costs.

“These aren’t real numbers. These are rough numbers that Kate Bristol and her agency put together to say this is what they could look like,” Thorpe responded. “We will be able to show what the costs will be once the request for proposal comes back. These are just concepts.”

“What model of best practices have you seen on this kind of project?” Ogorchock asked.

“On bridge housing…is it still the best practice over a community shelter?” Bristol asked. “If you identify the right providers who know what they are doing they will bring their best practices. They are embedded in the way the services are delivered.”

“Can you share the benefits versus the cost on a proven model…another city or someone else that’s doing this?” Ogorchock asked. “One that is city-funded.”

“I don’t have an example of a city of your size. There are some that larger cities have invested in. I can get you their costs and the results,” Bristol responded.

“Are you talking about the San Francisco one? Because it failed, I believe,” Ogorchock said.

“I’m not sure which one you’re talking about. They have several,” Bristol stated. “They started one on Mission Street then started replicating around the city…but that was before COVID. But they’ve been kind of shifting to motels. But the direction in the field in California around best practices is to move to these, somewhat more service enriched shelter approach, that when you leave you exit to housing.”

“Where would they go after four months? Would they just go back to the streets? Ogorchock asked.

“No. That wouldn’t be the goal. You can set a target for a length of stay. You can start with 120 days. That would be an average. Some would stay fewer months, some would stay longer,” Bristol responded. “They could get bridge funding from the county or find another pathway to get to housing. That’s really the job of the folks doing the case management.”

“It’s a difficult topic, trying to find the right fit for the city,” Ogorchock said. “What are the costs versus benefits? What are we looking at? What are the expected outcomes?”

“I would say that the goal of this is to reduce the unhoused population as much as possible within the community,” Barbanica responded. “But my belief…is that we can’t do nothing. Not only is there a human cost, here. But there’s also a cost to the community. The costs you’re seeing here the city is already experiencing.”

“But those costs aren’t going away. You’re talking about 28 individuals going into a hotel,” Ogorchock responded.

“I’m not saying I’m for this program, here. But the time for doing nothing is over,” Barbanica stated. “We have an opportunity…to do something…whether we’re doing all of this or none of this. I don’t want to say the city has done nothing, but there are individuals staying in those hotels, right now. If you don’t find housing for them, you’re going to put them back on the street (at the end of four months).”

“The costs are astronomical,” Ogorchock said. “It’s not going to stop the dumping or the feces or the urine in the river. But if you don’t have the services for them, the mental, drugs and alcohol. If we’re not going to oversee what they’re doing in the room then what are we changing? Instead of giving a helping hand we want to help them out of their situation.”

“We probably should have prefaced this…cities have a choice. We can either continue spending resources…reacting to the situation. That’s solved absolutely nothing. All we have done is accommodate people on the streets,” Thorpe said. “Or we can help house people…so we can stabilize people’s lives so they can get the services.”

“We’ve been paying millions of dollars chasing people from corner to corner,” he continued. “This is bridge housing…Fresno just opened their fourth hotel to adopt this concept to move folks forward into permanent housing. Breaking news, there are no services in East Contra Costa County. Literally we have a CORE Team that we share with all the other cities as an entry point for services that don’t exist in our community.”

“We can stay reactive and waste taxpayer money or we can come up with solutions and provide interim, bridge housing then get them into permanent housing,” Thorpe added.

“We are looking at spending a lot of money. Something needs to occur here, for the community for those who are unhoused,” Barbanica said. “In 2019…over $500,000 has been earmarked to go to the unhoused. We used part of that money to hire the unhoused resident coordinator. There’s at least $140,000 to be spent on temporary housing and literally none of that has been used.”

He spoke of his tour of the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg. It has 176 rooms. “30% of the residents there are from Antioch. It’s a 90- to 120-day program. Again, wrap around services. There’s a doctor on-site. Within 10 days they meet someone to get into permanent housing…either to reunite with family or get them into a program.”

“The county has just received 100 Section 8vouchers…and $3 million for permament housing,” Barbanica continued. “I’ve asked Jazmin to use that $140,000 to help get people off the street.”

“I spoke to (Pittsburg Police) Chief Addington. Calls (for police service) at the hotel, itself have decreased over time. The calls to the surrounding commercial areas have increased,” he pointed out. “They are actually now paying two officers…because of the calls for service in those shopping centers. I’m asking for a hybrid of this.”

“I’ve spoken to Lavonna Martin of the county and she said the cost for this type of program would be about $2.5 million,” Barbanica stated. He then suggested using the $140,000 to pay for rooms for Antioch residents at the motel in Pittsburg.

“It won’t house everybody, but neither solution will house everybody,” he continued. “There’s not enough people in CORE. We need to partner with the county to get some people assigned to Antioch. Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”

“One thing I want to know, Homekey is being 100% paid for by the state,” Ogorchock said. “First responder calls have increased…at that motel. Doing a hotel ourselves is going to be a cost that we’re going to have year after year. These increase year after year, right?”

“You’re going to have to factor in costs going up,” Bristol responded. “You’re going to have that at the Motel 6.”

“But that’s paid for by the county,” Ogorchock said.

“If you get the county to dedicate a certain amount of rooms at that motel, then you can get started sooner,” Bristol responded.

“I know that we are not talking about a motel, tonight. If we were I would be in full support of it, but we are not. It would only be viable in District 1,” Councilwoman Torres-Walker said. “A community that you neglect and overlooked for years and don’t invest in and provide quality police services…I’m not saying this isn’t something that anybody will support. But we should be served as residents, as well. Quality of life is important…you can’t keep asking people to be burdened and give and give and give and not get something in return.”

Wilson said, “We do also need to think about the surrounding community. The Motel 6 idea I would like to hear more about. I know that with the county program that is set up there, most the residents there are either COVID-positive or high-risk for COVID. Is there going to be a way to keep people safe and keep people healthy. If we have a healthy, COVID-free unhoused resident, we don’t want to have them mix in that environment. But I want to hear more about Motel 6.”

“We need to give direction on bridge housing…do we want to move forward on that?” Thorpe asked. “I see Torres-Walker nodding her head.”

Barbanica said “no” as did Ogorchock.

“I see we have a majority to move forward on the bridge housing,” Thorpe said.

“We asked if there was any outreach to the residents around that hotel,” Ogorchock then said.

“We can still do that,” Thorpe said. “We had two community conversations, Mike and I. There seems to be good feedback. Other folks say it should focus on emergency housing, quick and fast. We’ve talked with Rocketship (Delta Prep K-8 school nearby).”

“We are to pursue an RFP on a bridge housing type model and look for grant funding opportunities,” City Manager Ron Bernal said.

“The Motel 6 concept I will bring back to council. If we can do both…let’s get all the information and do a determination,” Thorpe then said. “I know there’s frustration around the lack of spending $500,000. We haven’t wasted the money because we haven’t spent the money. I really want Jazmin to get going on the motel vouchers.”

“I know all council members have been out there. We all get calls. It tears our hearts out to see fellow human beings living in the conditions they are,” he said. “I know every staff member, every council member is committed to this issue to get people on the right path and get them into permanent housing. I want to applaud my fellow colleagues. I also want to applaud the advocates out there for holding the fire to our feet.”

Council Opposes Sewer Rate Increase, But Will Still Hold Public Hearing Process

In other council action, the members unanimously agreed that they want to postpone increases in sewer rates. But the Prop. 218 mailed notification of a potential rate increase and public hearing will still be done.

“It doesn’t mean we have to do the rate increase,” Ogorchock said.

If council postpones the rate increase, city staff said that will mean a greater rate increase next year, rather than smaller rate increases for both years.

“Is it possible CARES money or whatever it’s going to be called, that it can be used to help individuals?” Ogorchock asked. “Or is that a gift of public funds?”

“I believe that will be a question for counsel…because we have a lot of leeway in the use of the (federal) relief funds,” Thorpe pointed out. “That will be a separate agenda item. We need to have staff do what they’re going to do. But when it comes back we don’t have to raise the rates.”

“We are not voting to increase rates. We are just voting to examine this issue,” he said. “After we do the Prop. 218 and have our public hearings, then we will decide if we’re going to raise rates. We are in the middle of a global pandemic and the last thing we want to do is raise rates.”

The public hearing date is set for June 8th.

The council still approved the process for the notification and public hearing, but on a 4-1 vote with Barbanica voting against.

The council then took a break before listening to 215 written public comments, according to the mayor. Plus, 10 people in the audience would speak live, according to City Clerk Ellie Householder.

But Ogorchock asked to suspend the rules to finish the consent calendar, first. The council agreed and approved all the items on the consent calendar.

Thorpe then reduced the time for each public comment from three-minutes to one. Click here to watch the entire council meeting, and listen to all the public comments at the end of the meeting.

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Antioch Council to discuss possible Bridge Housing Program using local motel

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Source: City of Antioch

Program would be part of City’s strategy to transition unhoused community; might include use of five FEMA trailers at an estimated annual cost range of $450,000 to $858,000 for staff and operating costs, does not include cost for leasing motel

By Rolando A. Bonilla, Public Information Officer, City of Antioch

Tonight, as part of the update by city staff on Unhoused Strategies for the City of Antioch the City Council will explore the possibility of implementing a Bridge Housing Program for the City of Antioch. (See staff and consultants’ report here: Unhoused Strategies for Antioch report)

In October of 2018, the City of Antioch was forced to declare a shelter crisis due to the fact that there were no shelter beds available to meet the demand for the city’s unhoused community. From that point, through a series of task forces and ad hoc committees, the city council began the process of developing its policy framework with short- and long-term strategies to support Antioch’s unhoused community, including approving spending $517,000 in one-time funds. To date most of those funds have not been spent. The remainder could be used to help fund the program.

According to the staff report on the agenda item, last year the council approved hiring consultant Focus Strategies who conducted a Motel Housing Program Feasibility Study “looking at temporary program program options that could be operated out of a motel site.” Estimated costs of the program range from $450,000 to $858,000 depending on which option the council chooses.

The report also states, “The planned project will obligate the City to an annual expenditure of between $450,000 and $858,000 for the services and program operating costs excluding the costs of master leasing.”

An email was sent to City Manager Ron Bernal and all five council members asking how much the cost will be for the master leasing of the motel, in other words the cost for renting the 30 rooms from the motel owner.

“There needs to be a strategy that will lead people to permanent housing,” the report also reads.

“As a community, Bridge Housing is the answer we need to solve the chronic issue of unhoused members of our community living on Antioch streets,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “There is nothing more basic and fundamental than the dignity of a place to call home. Through Bridge Housing, we will be able to help our most vulnerable while also strengthening our city as a whole.”

If the council directs staff to further pursue a Bridge Housing Program, Antioch will formally move towards a model that integrates housing and robust supportive services that ensures all residents have access to the assistance they need to navigate into permanent housing.

“As a city, the needs of unhoused residents challenge us on a daily basis.  Contra Costa County is a large geographical area and Antioch is one of 19 cities competing for the County’s regional resources.  A local framework enables us to take direct action and best position Antioch to reduce the number of unhoused residents living in encampments,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. “This kind of approach will improve the quality of life for the entire community.”

According to a recent study, in 2020, the City of Antioch identified 238 individuals as unhoused with half being identified as Antioch natives. Council action to proceed would provide a green light to solicit bids for support services and formally launch grant seeking efforts.  Grant opportunities may encompass support services, housing costs and any capital needs to establish the program, in addition to other strategies identified in the City framework.

Allen Payton contributed to this report. Please check back later for any updates.

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Antioch’s new Unhoused Resident Coordinator getting to work on solutions to one of city’s major challenges

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Jazmin Ridley. Photo: City of Antioch

By Allen Payton

Antioch has its first Unhoused Resident Coordinator, to help address one of the major challenges the city is currently facing: homelessness.

Jazmin Ridley was introduced to the public during the council meeting on January 12 by Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore.

“Jazmin joined the city team in early December as Antioch’s first Unhoused Resident Coordinator,” said Bayon Moore. “Jazmin is inquisitive, analytical, energetic and committed to serving others.”

“She is well acquainted with the importance of the safety nets that counties provide, having worked most recently in Sacramento County where she provided critical navigation assistance,” Bayon Moore continued. “For Jazmin, this is a return home to Antioch as a proud graduate of Deer Valley High School. Jazmin’s love of learning has been a journey. As a young adult she attended U.C. Davis where she studied Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies.”

She also has two master’s degrees, one from the University of Illinois in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, specifically in Brazilian History and in Public Administration from National University, which she earned while working full time.

“Thank you so much for taking the chance on me. I know how important the issue is of housing our most vulnerable residents and I’m up to the task,” Ridley shared during her introduction. “I’m elated that I am in Antioch and working for the City is a blessing. I’m going to do everything I can to work and contribute back to the city that raised me.”

On her LinkedIn profile, Ridley in  her role as Human Services Specialist for Sac County she wrote, “For the past several years, it has been a privilege to serve alongside the team at the Department of Human Assistance as a human services specialist, where I advocate for the health and well-being of public assistance applicants. During this time, I have been able to assist hundred of program applicants by working one-on-one with my clients to determine their needs, present available benefits, and explain complex social service policies in Spanish and Portuguese.”

Ridley “built expertise in a wide range of governmental programs, including CalWORKS, CalFresh, SNAP, healthcare programs, and the Affordable Care Act” and is “recognized as a subject matter expert in Welfare to Work eligibility.”

In her new role, she will work to “implement strategies, avail(able) resources, and collaborate with regional partners and stakeholders in working toward an effective response to the homelessness within the city.”

Ridley’s past employment also includes working for five years as a tutor to high school students and working as an instructional assistant in after school program with academic and recreational activities for elementary students. She is currently a Board Member and Secretary for the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento.

“Homelessness and the needs of the unhoused touch nearly every aspect of our agency,” Bayon Moore said during her introduction of Ridley.  “We are excited to see staffing of this key role embedded in the city manager’s office to help strengthen Antioch’s response to such an important community topic. Please join me in welcoming Jazmin, sharing your insight and supporting her efforts.”

Ridley can be reached at (925) 779-6893 or via email at jridley@antiochca.gov.

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Antioch Council recognizes Homelessness Awareness Month in November

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

During their Tuesday night, Nov. 24 meeting, the Antioch City Council approved the following resolution recognizing:

HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS MONTH

NOVEMBER 2020

WHEREAS, the month of November is recognized as Homelessness Awareness Month in the United States;

WHEREAS, the purpose of the proclamation is to educate the public and advocate with and on behalf of people experiencing homelessness about the many reasons people are homeless, including the shortage of affordable housing in Contra Costa County;

WHEREAS, there are over twenty organizations in Contra Costa committed to sheltering, providing supportive services, and/or basic resources to people experiencing homelessness;

WHEREAS, the City of Antioch recognizes that homelessness continues to be a serious problem for many individuals and families;

WHEREAS, the 2020 Point in Time Count identified 2,277 homeless individuals in Contra Costa County, with 52 percent experiencing a mental health condition, 50 percent with a substance use issue and 45 percent with a chronic health condition;

WHEREAS, 55 percent of the homeless population in Contra Costa County is between the ages of 25-54 and 33 percent of the population is aged 55 or older;

WHEREAS, 238 unhoused people were counted in the City of Antioch in Contra Costa County;

WHEREAS, a report by the California Housing Partnership found that Contra Costa County needs 33,477 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest income renters.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SEAN WRIGHT, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby proclaim the month of November 2020, to be “Homelessness Awareness Month” and encourage all citizens to recognize that thousands of people in Contra Costa do not have housing and need support from citizens, and private/public non-profit service entities to address the myriad challenges of homelessness.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution.

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Opponent says Wilson offers more talk no action on Antioch’s downtown Rivertown and homeless problem

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Dear Editor:

Over five years ago, in 2015 the Antioch City Council approved the Downtown Specific Plan Update and finalized it in 2018. Yet nothing has happened to implement those plans since then. During Tuesday night’s Antioch City Council meeting incumbent Councilwoman Monica Wilson offered no action items for the rest of the council to vote on to help improve Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown. It was just more talk from the council’s Waterfront subcommittee that she serves on.

Worse, the committee did not include all the business owners that have been trying to improve the downtown Rivertown or would like to upgrade their buildings. They have not publicized their meetings so that other Rivertown business and building owners can attend and give their input and ideas.

Monica has done more harm than good for our city’s downtown. Earlier this year she marched with protesters all the way down the middle of W. 2nd Street to the police station, blocking the road to traffic in front of businesses that were struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some of those businesses boarded up out of fear of looting and damage to their store windows. But Wilson did not care about the Rivertown businesses and the impacts of the protests. She was trying to score points with the protesters for another future run for higher office, which is what she really wants. Wilson wanted to be mayor, this year, and was unsuccessfully when she ran for Supervisor in 2016.

What has Wilson accomplished in her eight years on the council? For Rivertown, only one thing, when she voted in August to spend $15,000 on barriers for the restaurants to have outdoor dining where the parking stalls are located in front of their businesses. They have barely been used so that was a big waste of money. But that is it. Plus, the portable toilets for the homeless who stay in Waldie Plaza and along the railroad tracks.

That’s another thing she has done nothing about, other than vote to apply for five FEMA trailers from the state which arrived in March but are still sitting in the city’s maintenance yard, and to spend our tax dollars on consultants and a new city staff member. Monica voted last December to allocate over $500,000 to do something about the homeless problem in our city but then voted to spend $73,000 of it to hire a consultant on homelessness to help develop a plan to hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator at a cost of $100,000 per year. Then, before anything was done with the rest of the money, Wilson voted to spend as much as $1 million to create a homeless hotel on E. 18th Street.

We need people on the city council who are going to take action and quit talking about improving Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown and actually do something about the homeless issue in our city. Plus, not promise us 22 police immediately then take six years to deliver on that commitment.

That is why I am running. If you want action and results and not just more talk and delays and kicking the can down the road, eventually getting around to it, I ask for your vote for Antioch City Council in District 4.

Thank you,

Sandra White

Antioch

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Contra Costa County appears to be overpaying for Pittsburg motel for homeless by more than $5 million, releases appraisal

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Assessor’s Parcel information for Motel 6. From ParcelQuest Lite website.

“In the interests of transparency” – Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt

The difference is primarily due to the below market purchase price” – from the appraisal

“This is a classic example of a gift of public funds” – County Assessor Gus Kramer

By Allen Payton

After learning that the county’s outside appraisal for the Motel 6 in Pittsburg was $16.7 million, and the purchase price offered by the Board of Supervisors of $17.4 million, was only 4.2% higher, it was learned today that the same motel sold for just $12 million in February 2019. In addition, it was assessed on January 1st, this year slightly higher at $12,226,480. After requesting a copy of the appraisal since last week, the County Counsel’s office released it, today “in the interests of transparency.” The appraisal states last year’s “purchase price was modified to $13,200,000.” (See related article)

Asked for copies of what was believed to be both internal and outside contract appraisals from the Public Works Department Real Estate Division, Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt responded, “I’m only aware of one appraisal. It was contracted out. I can give you what the topline is, but the appraisal is not available until after escrow closes.”

“The appraised value is $16.7 million at $96,000 per room,” he stated. “It’s 4.2% above the appraised value.”

Asked if the appraisal was done internally or contracted out, Angstadt said, “We always contract out appraisals. We have staff with real estate licenses. But I don’t believe we have any licensed appraisers on staff.”

“The state was very public about how much they were willing to pay, at $100,000 per room,” he continued. “So, it didn’t leave us with much room to negotiate.”

“We have not signed the purchase and sale agreement, yet. That will happen once we finish the due diligence. We are working our way through all of it. It’s scheduled to close escrow on November 10th,” Angstadt added.

However, Angstadt released the appraisal to the Herald, today after obtaining permission from the County Counsel’s office. It was done by West Hollywood-based HVS Consulting & Valuation, a Division of TS Worldwide, LLC which, according to their website, provides highly credible hotel valuations and appraisals.”  (See page 13) HVS Appraisal – FINAL – Motel 6 – Pittsburg CA – 09

The sale price for the 41-year-old motel was $68,000 per room, last year.

In a search of the Assessor’s Parcel number for the property, which is 088-152-039 on the ParcelQuest Lite website, a link to which can be found on the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s webpage and which any member of the public, county staff, Board of Supervisors and any appraiser can do, it provides the details of last year’s sale and this year’s valuation.

The closest comparable sale was the Ramada Inn, now Comfort Inn, in Antioch which sold in March 2017 for $50,000 per room. That’s a much higher end hotel than the Motel 6. Another comparable property, the Marina Bay Inn & Suites on Cutting Blvd. in Richmond near Pt. Richmond sold in August 2017 for $80,000 per room, and that’s in an area considered nicer than where the Motel 6 is located in Pittsburg.

“The real comparable sale is the property itself,” said County Assessor Gus Kramer, who has been an outspoken critic of the county’s purchase of the motel. (See related article)

“Did the appraiser back into the state’s and county’s number?” he asked. “How can the appraiser say the value of the motel increased in the last year by 45%? No property in the county has increased in value that much during that time.”

Asked when the property was assessed this year, Kramer said his staff did that on January 1st.

“This is a classic example of a gift of public funds,” he stated. “Just because the state is giving us this amount of money doesn’t mean we need to spend that much.”

“This is why local government is in trouble,” Kramer continued. “It’s not that they don’t have enough money it’s that they don’t manage what they have, well.”

An email was sent to all members of the Board of Supervisors, County Administrator David Twa and Angstadt asking them why there is such a difference in the value arrived at by the county’s contract appraiser as well as the offer price, and last year’s sale price and this year’s assessed valuation. They were also asked to confirm that the property in the online search was in fact the Motel 6, since it has the same address and the photo of it appears to be the motel. In addition, they were asked why the appraiser didn’t take into account the sale and assessed value for the motel and if they will now seek a second appraisal.

Text messages were also sent to Supervisors Federal Glover, in whose district the motel is located, Diane Burgis and Board Chair Candace Andersen informing them of the difference in appraised value and assessed valuation and to please check their emails.

The Board was holding a special closed session meeting, today beginning at 9 a.m. to discuss both Kramer’s lawsuit against the Board over allegations of violations of the state’s Brown Act open meeting law, as well as potential candidates to replace Twa who is retiring, this year.

Angstadt responded with, “The appraisal does include a discussion and analysis of the past sale of the property and the reasoning, changes and circumstances that led to the appraiser assigning the valuation they did.  As I said in our earlier discussion Government Code Section 6254(H) exempts release of the contents of an appraisal before the acquisition of the property is complete.  Therefore I can’t directly answer your question about how they justified the higher value, but I can assure you they did discuss the issues you raised and their methods of determining the higher value they assigned to the property.

However, California Government Code § 6254 (2017) reads “Except as provided in Sections 6254.7 and 6254.13, this chapter does not require the disclosure of any of the following records:

(h) The contents of real estate appraisals or engineering or feasibility estimates and evaluations made for or by the state or local agency relative to the acquisition of property, or to prospective public supply and construction contracts, until all of the property has been acquired or all of the contract agreement obtained.”

A further question was asked if the county is prohibited from releasing the appraisal or just not required to and if they can release it to please provide it, as has been requested since last week.

In response Angstadt wrote, “I spoke with County Counsel and they said they we could disclose the appraisal at this time in the interests of transparency.  A number of the issues you raised are discussed starting on page 13.”

Appraisal Explanation for Higher Value Than 2019 Sale Price

On that page, the appraisal provides the reason for part of the higher price. It reads, “The ‘as is’ market value opinion in this appraisal is approximately 27% higher than the February 2019 purchase price. The difference is primarily due to the below market purchase price, as described throughout this report.”

In addition, the appraisal states the actual “purchase price was modified to $13,200,000”.

Please check back later for any responses from the Supervisors and any other updates.

Below is the information from the ParcelQuest Lite property search of the Motel 6 property located at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg.

Russell V. Watts , County Treasurer-Tax Collector

Property Address: 2101 LOVERIDGE RD PITTSBURG CA 94565-5019

Google Map of Motel 6 site. From ParcelQuest Lite.

Full Detail $14.95  The Full Property Detail includes everything displayed here plus completed information for those fields where “See Full Detail” is shown. If a field is empty on this page, no data is available, and the field will also be empty on the Full Property Detail.

Property Address: 2101 LOVERIDGE RD PITTSBURG CA 94565-5019

General Information

Parcel # (APN): 088-152-039-9 
Owner: See Full Detail
Mailing Address: 25920 VIA MARGARITA CARMEL CA 93923-8313
Legal Description: PCL MAP 78 PG 36 POR PCL A
Use Type: COMMERCIAL
Tax Rate Area: 007-004

Assessment

Total Value: $12,226,480 Year Assd: 2020
Land: $2,550,000 Zoning:
Structures: $9,424,800 Use Code: See Full Detail
Other: $251,680 Census Tract: See Full Detail
% Improved: See Full Detail Price/SqFt: See Full Detail
Exempt Amt:
HO Exempt: N

Sale History

Sale 1 Sale 2 Sale 3 Transfer
Document Date: 02/12/2019 See Full Detail See Full Detail
Document Number: 19052 See Full Detail See Full Detail
Document Type:
Transfer Amount: $12,000,000 See Full Detail
Seller (Grantor):

Property Characteristics

Bedrooms: Fireplace: Units: See Full Detail
Baths (Full): A/C: Stories:
Baths (Half): Heating: Quality:
Total Rooms: Pool: Building Class:
Bldg/Liv Area: 43,352 Park Type: Condition:
Lot Acres: 2.905 Spaces: Site Influence:
Lot SqFt: 126,542 Garage SqFt: Timber Preserve:
Year Built: 1979 Ag Preserve:
Effective Year: See Full Detail
**The information provided here is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed.

 

 

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors approve $17.4 million purchase of Motel 6 in Pittsburg as transitional housing for homeless

Thursday, October 22nd, 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.

$21.6 million total for program; approved as a consent calendar item and the last item on the agenda without discussion; no appraisals included; Glover, Kramer split on issue; appraises at $16.7 million

Motel 6 Pittsburg. Photo by Motel 6.

By Daniel Borsuk

The light will be left on for homeless, now at the Motel 6 in Pittsburg. Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors may have quietly went about unanimously approving $21.6 million for the purchase of the motel and almost two years of operations, as part of the state’s Homekey program to help the homeless find shelter, food, jobs and get social services, but the Board’s consent action on Tuesday also demonstrates how far apart two political candidates – longtime District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover and challenger Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer – are on the issue of homelessness.

The agenda item was quietly acted on as a consent item, and the last on the agenda. There was no discussion on the item, nor were copies of the two appraisals by the county’s Public Works Real Estate Division included with the agenda. Attempts to obtain the appraised value for the property from members of the Board, County Administrator David Twa, and the Public Works Real Estate Division were unsuccessful prior to publication time. However, Supervisors Federal Glover, in whose district the motel is located, as well as Candace Andersen and Diane Burgis said they would work to provide the information. The only documents included with the agenda item were the purchase and sale agreement and deed of sale. Motel 6 Pittsburg – Purchase & Sale Agrmt final 10.12.20

Located at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg, the County, with the state’s financial assistance decided that acquisition of the Motel 6 will increase the number of shelter beds permanently available in East County from 20 beds to 174 beds, a 770 percent increase.  In addition to providing shelter, the program, funded under the state’s Home Key Program, would provide health care, behavioral health and other services to residents.

Contra Costa, along with the counties of San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara have now drawn state Homekey funds in the fight to solve homeless issues.

“This will be a great opportunity to get people off the street,” said Supervisor Glover who faces Kramer in a November 3rd face-off election because neither candidate drew enough votes to surpass 50 percent threshold of the total votes in the March election.  In that March election, the District 5 Board Seat had three candidates competing for the District 5 seat covering the communities of Antioch, Alhambra Valley, Clyde, Crockett, Hercules, Martinez, Mountain View, Pacheco, Pittsburg, Port Costa, and Rodeo – Glover, Kramer and Martinez businessman Sean Trambley – and no candidate had mustered votes exceeding 50 percent of the votes counted.  As a result, Glover and Kramer are in a run-off election on November 3.

The Contra Costa County Behavioral Department will operate the county’s Homekey program.

County Assessor Kramer, who must appear in Superior Court Judge John Cope’s court room on today, for a jury trial on civil “corrupt or willful misconduct” charges took a different view on the Board of Supervisors’ action to acquire the 174-room motel from OKC of Pittsburg for use as a homeless  facility.

Kramer lashed out at his political opponent Glover and other supervisors for spending $21 million.  “It’s a great program, but it is a waste of resources,” he said. “What a horrible investment.  Shame on the Board and Federal.”

Kramer did offer a potential solution to the homeless problem in the county and perhaps the state by creating camps like what occurred during the Great Depression where job, health and other public services would also be provided to individuals.

10/27/20 UPDATE: Asked for copies of the appraisal, Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt responded, “I’m only aware of one appraisal. It was contracted out. I can give you what the topline is, but the appraisal is not available until after escrow closes.”

“The appraised value is $16.7 million at $96,000 per room,” he stated. “It’s 4.2% above the appraised value.”

Asked if the appraisal was done internally or contracted out, Angstadt said, “We always contract out appraisals. We have staff with real estate licenses. But I don’t believe we have any licensed appraisers on staff.”

“The state was very public about how much they were willing to pay at $100,000 per room,” he continued. “So, it didn’t leave us with much room to negotiate.”

“We have not signed the purchase and sale agreement, yet. That will happen once we finish the due diligence. We are working our way through all of it. It’s scheduled to close escrow on November 10th,” Angstadt added.

Orange COVID-19 Metric Next Week?’ 

Supervisors were informed that by next Tuesday the county should transition into the orange COVID-19 criteria, Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth said.  “We should meet the orange metric next week,” she said.  A move to an orange metric would mean the removal of further restrictions on some businesses.

Since the County declared a State of Emergency because of COVID-19 in March, there have been 18,214 cases and 236 deaths, Roth reported.

The health director encouraged the public to continue to wash hands, keep their distance, and stay home from work or school if they felt ill.

Four Abatement Actions

Supervisors acted on four abatement actions at the recommendations of the Conservation and Development Department.

Properties the Supervisors took action on were:

Property at 2738 Dutch Slough Road, Oakley, owned by Elmo G. Wurts, for $8,141.20; property at 0 Stone Road, Bethel Island, owned by Thanh Ngyyen for $6,964;  property at 4603 Gateway Road, Bethel Island, owned by Franks Marina for $5,591.20; and property at 3901 La Colina Road, El Sobrante, owned by Rudolph N. Webbe for $3,256.70.

Supervisors did not hear any comments from either property owners or the public on the abatement items.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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News photographer, videographer shares heartbreaking story of young homeless woman living in tunnel below Highway 4 in Pittsburg

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Homeless woman walking barefoot, with firefighters who were there to extinguish the fire in the tunnel beneath Hwy 4. Photos by Art Ray.

Firefighters extinguish fire in tunnel where she’s been living.

By Art Ray

It’s starting to get cooler at night if you have a place to sleep, you can thank God.

I responded to. a working fire in the underpass beneath Highway 4 at Century Blvd. in Pittsburg. When I got there I saw a young, homeless woman, and I do mean young. She was lying down on a nasty mattress behind some metal bars. The arriving firemen grabbed a saw and cut the gate open so they could put a hose on the fire.

What got me was that the young woman remained on the mattress with smoke pouring out of the tunnel. She didn’t have the capacity to get away from the smoke or fire. Finally, she walked out of the tunnel bare foot stepping on glass, rocks and all kinds of dangerous things. As she passed by me, I asked “where are your shoes?” to which she replied she didn’t have any.

The point of this story is not that I went and got her a pair of shoes from the store but that she has some demons that has her early, 20-year-old self, homeless and living under a highway. She didn’t even have the mental capacity to follow my directions and to walk the one block down to the store to meet me to get the new shoes.

Homeless woman painting her lighter with nail polish, the mattress where she slept surrounded by garbage in the tunnel, and a firefighter at the gated entrance to one side of the tunnel below Hwy 4. Photos by Art Ray.

I had to go driving around to find her. When I did find her, she was sitting on the ground painting a cigarette lighter with fingernail polish. When I walked up to her with the shoe bag she never even looked up to me when I gave her the new blue shoes she was fixated on the nail polish and lighter. That’s when I realized that’s there are bigger issues than being homeless. There are thousands of homeless people that are not thinking straight.

After dropping off the shoes I went to meet with the county’s homeless advocate to see if they could help the young sister. He told me he would leave his office and go find her as soon as he got done checking in another homeless person into the newly opened homeless residence the state just bought from Motel 6.

I’m saying all of this to encourage everyone to find a way they can help another human being instead of just complaining about the homeless problem.

Most police departments and counties have resources you can plug into. Maybe you have a warm coat or shoes you don’t wear anymore. Be a part of the homeless solution not a person that finds pleasure in complaining about the homeless. Trust this. Many of the homeless have issues they are battling in their heads. It’s getting cold out. Are you willing to find a way to get involved? Perhaps it’s through your church. Like they say, it takes a village. We are all our brother’s, or in this case, our sister’s keeper.

This is a story that I needed to photograph and tell. I included a picture of the nasty mattress in the filth someone’s daughter or sister was laying on when I arrived. Notice I didn’t include her face so she could retain some kind of dignity.

Art Ray is owner of Bay News Video providing video footage to Bay Area news stations and online media.

video footage to Bay Area news stations and online media.

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