Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

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

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

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

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

The council then took up the item.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Antioch Council agrees to list of solutions for homelessness in city

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

Will consider approving budget costs at next meeting in November

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No members of the public spoke.

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

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

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

No council action was required on the report.

List of Solutions in Antioch

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

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

The list is not all encompassing, he added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long Term Solutions

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

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

Public Comments

Nichole Gardner was the first to speak during public comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Option #1 – Providing Dumpsters where needed and Sharps

“I’m for that,” said Thorpe.

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

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

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

#2 – Portable Toilets

“I’m for that,” Thorpe said, again.

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

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

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

#3 – Portable Shower Units

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

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

#4 – Laundry Services

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

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

Immediate Short-Term Shelter

#5 – Motel Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#6 – Warming Centers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#7 – Safe Parking Lots

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

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

“I’m for this,” Thorpe said.

“Yes,” said Wilson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Antioch Council approves hiring homeless coordinator on split vote, asks staff for costs on homeless solutions

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Aerial photo of illegal RV park at 701 Wilbur Avenue. Photo by City of Antioch.

Postpones enforcement at illegal RV park; finalizes 70% pay raise; approves $75,000 for Veterans Memorial relocation

By Allen Payton

After discussion and debating for over an hour, at their Tuesday night Sept. 10th meeting, about recommendations by the Homeless Encampment Task Force, the Antioch City Council ended up giving staff direction to return to their first meeting in October with cost estimates for each of the proposals. Homeless Task Force Recommendations ACC091019

“So, we spent seven months on this process. We had things throughout the day posted on Facebook. We heard from a whole bunch of people,” Thorpe said. “I’m pretty pleased with the amount of feedback and engagement we received. The recommendations are in phases. But the comments…are absent of the progress that we’ve made and the discussions we’ve had. I understand people don’t always have the entire picture.”

“It’s very difficult…to serve you if you don’t have a place to live. It’s very difficult for county to get people into services if they’re living on the street. The federal government for the past four decades have been disinvesting in federal housing programs, whether it was Democrat or Republican administrations.”

“I’m a little bit, kind of confused,” Ogorchock said. “The Ad Hoc Committee is asking for certain things. Again, I’m kind of confused where to put my comments, whether it be on this item or the next (Unhoused Resident Coordinator). We have Teri House (the city’s grant management consultant), who works with the county and the consortium of care. We do have the CDBG grant monies and it’s not enough in there for the non-profits we work with.”

The plan is to discuss “our recommendations, and then put the position after that,” Thorpe explained.

“I had a good, long conversation with (Contra Costa County Health, Housing, and Homeless Services Director) Lavonna Martin, today,” Mayor Sean Wright stated. “To her statement she was only involved in the one (task force meeting) she attended. I asked her what she thought about these recommendations and she said she hadn’t seen them. So, I was surprised.”

“I don’t know what kind of conversation you had with her, but I am floored by that comment,” Thorpe responded. “We had four follow up meetings with Lavonna Martin. The county is not going to give us anything for people on the street. There is no capacity at any shelter. Call 2-1-1 and see if you can get housing. It’s not about what Lavonna Martin says.”

“She said she was not heavily involved in the recommendations, which was surprising to me,” Wright stated.

“The meetings were over the phone and the city manager was on the phone with us,” said Motts. “We asked her what we should do to get people off the streets, and she said, ‘shelter’. We took her expertise.”

Wright then mentioned “the consortium for the homeless at the county level,” and asked Teri House to speak.

“The Homeless Continuum of Care is where all the money flows into and out of for homeless,” House stated. “I wasn’t involved with coming up with those items, specifically. But I have a whole laundry list, without having to spend $120,000 to hire someone to come up with. I could rattle off a dozen things from $125,000 to $1 million. This is what we do all day long. I not only sit on the council for the homeless. I already have all the relationships with all the homeless agencies. I would be thrilled to provide you the laundry list of things you can spend funds on in the next two weeks, rather than wait months.

“And that’s the conversation I had with Lavonna…that this would be duplicating efforts by creating the position,” Wright stated.

“Maybe on down the line you might need to hire a coordinator,” House stated. “You can’t work outside of the Continuum of Care…so, if you want access to shelter beds…the Core team is the only ones who can get them into shelter beds. They’re currently filled with people who are extremely frail and vulnerable.”

“Lavonna wanted to make it clear, the concept of temporary. None of these things are temporary. We are taking on the obligation as a city permanently. Once you take them on, they become the fabric of what you take on as a city,” Wright added.

“If we set up a temporary camp for 100 and we have 300, we know there are 200 out there,” House explained. “We have to work on prevention for those who might become homeless.

“I spoke with Lavonna, today, as well. She reiterated the same thing,” Ogorchock said. “The library has agreed to become a warming center.”

“All the subsidy goes through the Continuum of Care,” House said. “All federal…state funds go through the Continuum of Care. That’s how HUD set it up. So, none of the funds will be coming to the city.

I am the federal grants, housing and homelessness consultant,” House said in response to a question by Ogorchock. Around $125,000 is spent on homelessness, each year, out of the Community Development Block Grant Funds.

“I would rather see this money to go to Teri, because she has all the connections. She has been doing this for 23 years. So, why would we want to reinvent the wheel,” Ogorchock stated.

“So, you are basically our HUD coordinator, so you have access to resources,” Councilwoman Monica Wilson asked. “Do you also work with our population for getting into direct services?”

“The city doesn’t do any of that,” House responded.

“What do you currently do?” Wilson asked

“The same thing everyone else does to get them into the system,” House said. “You call Core. We subcontract with all the non-profits.”

“I feel like something is missing in there, a key component,” Wilson stated. “If I’m homeless or a victim of sexual abuse, it’s easier for me to go to one point.”

“Oh, definitely,” House responded. “That’s why we want to get a care center built out here as soon as possible. There are beds in central county and Richmond. There’s nothing here in East County.”

“What you’re referring to is a care center, which we’re about two to three years away,” Motts stated. “So, you’re speaking of a continuum of care, how you can say we’ll be operating outside of that.”

“If you’re doing your own service delivery and you’re not doing it through the county…then you don’t have access to those shelters,” House explained.

“That’s what we planned to do. There are silos of all these people doing things but no one working together,” Motts said.

“There are services we can deliver outside of that…have Lavonna at the table to figure that out,” House stated.

“You spoke about it was shelter, first. Is that still your thought process?” Motts asked.

“Absolutely,” House responded. “You can’t get them all that they need…if they don’t have a stable place to be.”

Thorpe then spoke about “the temporary nature is showers, and toilets, laundry. That’s what we’re referring to when we say ‘temporary’. We’re getting away from the focus on housing. People need to get housed. So, if you didn’t do recommendation one or two, but just focused on housing.

“Teri, do you coordinate toilets in downtown?” asked Thorpe.

“No,” House replied.

“Do you coordinate showers?” he then asked.

“That’s something I could coordinate with Ron (Bernal),” said.

“Do you coordinate laundry?” Thorpe asked, again.

“Do we have that in the city? That’s something we can do,” House replied.

“Your warming centers, your care centers are not a housing solution. I don’t need anyone to verify that,” Thorpe stated. “We are not looking to duplicate the Continuum of Care. It’s not written anywhere. This position is specifically

“I didn’t ask for $120,000. I didn’t ask for a position. I asked for a consultant. City staff did that.”

“All we’re trying to do is get people into housing. The ultimate goal is housing,” he exclaimed.

“Lavonna Martin said, a consultant would be duplicative of what we have done,” Wright said. “If we’re going to put housing first, a cot-type of housing, to run a 100 cot, it would cost $1.5 million. Is that what we’re asking?”

“A cot?” asked Thorpe. “No. A transitional shelter then permanent housing. The entry points to go through services is to get you to permanent housing. If the county isn’t going to provide them housing, then we have to provide the housing.”

“There are many things communities are doing,” Motts stated.

“The difference between finding immediate shelter versus transitional housing, where it be converted shipping containers or ToughSheds,” Thorpe said.

“Our county doesn’t have enough housing stock,” House said. “Studio apartments is where you start. We simply don’t have enough housing stock for single individuals. So, they’re looking at

“In a housing first model, is there something we as a city can do that you aren’t already doing?” Wright asked.

“Money,” House responded. “There is a dozen and one idea. Case management. Helping them with a search. Working with a non-profit agency that can get them a master lease for that unit.”

“The stock is the issue, if there is no stock and that’s the model we push for,” Wright said. “A cot model at $1.5 million. That does not become temporary. There is constant homeless coming in.”

“We have more inflows in our system of care than outflows,” she responded.

“I agree with everything you just said,” Thorpe said.

“Until I see hard numbers in front of me…I can’t just blindly say ‘yes, let’s move forward’,” Wright stated.

“We can get you that information within two weeks,” House said.

Ogorchock asked about working with the Interfaith Council and offering parking spaces for safe places at night.

“We’ve been coordinating with the Interfaith Council for the churches to provide shelter,” House responded.

“These are temporary things and we do need housing to put people back into homes,” Ogorchock stated. “Some of these things shouldn’t be temporary. The garbage bins, bathrooms. Some of these should be permanent.”

“When I was homeless that was the constant thing, trying to find a public restroom to use before I went to work,” House stated.

Wright asked Bernal what the city is already doing, with regards to the two portable toilets in downtown.

“They’re working well,” Bernal responded.

Wright then asked the City Attorney about a “no camping ordinance”.

“We can’t enforce that, correct?” he asked.

“I believe your analysis is correct,” City Attorney Thomas Smith responded.

“We need someone to coordinate this,” Motts stated. “Some place for safe parking. There are people living in cars and RV’s all over our community. People talk about how there is human waste affecting our economic viability. But we need someone coordinating that effort. Whether it’s a housing coordinator or it’s you, I don’t really care.”

“We’re spending money and it’s not going anywhere,” she stated. “Either we want to fix this or we don’t and it’s going to cost us money.”

“We can put out an RFP and hire somebody to coordinate this. Whether you need a full-time coordinator to do this or we can do the things through the non-profits,” House said.

“Lavonna Martin said if she could find a city that would come up with the money, she would coordinate that,” Wright stated.

“But, it’s her model,” Thorpe responded. “We posed the same thing to Lavonna. If we gave her money to accommodate Antioch, it would not go to housing.”

“Richmond went to her and said if we give you this money will you coordinate it, and she did,” Wright said.

“Can you put something together quickly, within the next two weeks and bring it before council?” Ogorchock asked.

“I’d like to think of these things as principles and we would look at them from different approaches,” Thorpe said. “Who does it I could care less. Which direction we go in, I don’t think that should be delayed.”

“I’m not willing to blanketly say ‘let’s do all this’,” Wright said. “I’m willing to go down this road and look at all these things.”

“So, would this be a problem to bring things back in the next two weeks? I want to move forward on this,” Ogorchock said.

“If that’s not the direction Ron wants to go in,” Thorpe said.

“I’d like to discuss Teri’s current responsibility with the Community Development Director,” Bernal said. “My understanding is to go fast. Some of these things will come back, which we can go faster. There’s a lot of research from an infrastructure standpoint. The council wasn’t going to make any decisions, tonight.”

“We’re giving direction, we’re not deciding immediate actions” as the agenda item was written, Wright said.

“I agree with the mayor on that,” Ogorchock said.

“We’re not committing to anything but the principles,” Thorpe said. “Ron said it beautifully. I’m prepared, if you, Joy are prepared to make a motion.”

“I do agree that the wording of this is problematic,” Smith interjected. Because the way it reads is that action is supposed to be taken. There’s a whole lot of information missing of what that consists of.”

“We’re just adopting, here’s the concept, we like it,” Thorpe said.

“If you case it in a direction, that would be better,” Smith stated. “If there is to be some action taken, we can bring that back.”

“What I think I would like to do…if Teri has the capacity, for her to come back with a report at the next council meeting,” then from there make a decision on further pursuing these,” Bernal said. “It’s my understanding, Teri has a full plate. This takes a consultant, a part-time commitment. It can’t be hit or miss, to work for two weeks, then take time off.”

“My concern is we’re heading into winter and the longer people will be on the streets,” Motts said. “The sooner the better.”

“I don’t want to get to the point of overanalyzing,” Wilson stated. “If two council members aren’t here, let’s still move forward. I don’t want to be here, a year from now and nothing has been done. Maybe with the help of the ad hoc committee, Teri, we can get it done in 48 hours.”

“To me, I’m excited, it sounds like we’re moving forward,” Thorpe said.

Ultimately the council gave staff unofficial direction, without a vote, to come back with costs for each of the recommendations at the first council meeting in October.

Approves Unhoused Resident Coordinator Position

During the agenda item on creating a new, Unhoused Resident Coordinator, city staff spoke first. Unhoused Resident Coordinator ACC091019

“It really didn’t click to do it as a consultant,” said Nickie Mastay, during her staff report. “Other cities don’t have all the responsibilities in one position. Richmond…Concord…BART have separate positions.

“The reason we were pretty adamant to have a consultant because we didn’t want to go through the hiring process, which takes time,” Thorpe said. “I’m still for this. It doesn’t have to be a position. I would like the city manager to move as quickly as possible on this.”

“Are you still recommending we have a resident coordinator,” Motts asked Thorpe.

“I’m recommending a consultant to get moving quickly,” he responded.

“Teri already has many reports,” Wright said. “With that we can spend less money on a consultant than what we’re actually delivering to the homeless.”

“We’re talking about coordinating things, not producing reports,” Thorpe said.

“The first thing to do is a feasibility study. I want to see the reports already produced,” Wright responded. “I would rather wait to see we have that full-on need before we approve that.”

“I’m still lost in your thinking,” Thorpe said. “As an example, Ron did all the work for coordinating the port-a-potties. That’s something the coordinator would do. I’m not asking the county to do anything. We will identify properties. I’m not clear how the county fits in on all that. That’s why I’m comfortable with moving forward.

“I’m not saying not never, but that’s just me,”

“This is duplicative of things we just discussed in Item 5,” Ogorchock said. “If Teri is the person to do that, we will see that in the next meeting. I would rather see this money go to…housing.”

“I see both points of view, here,” Motts said. “There was no collaborative. There was no one place for non-profits, anybody to go to deal with homelessness and all the other problems that go along with that. There are all these agencies, there’s no cohesive effort within the City of Antioch. Teri already has a full plate. I’m thrilled she’s willing to do all of the analysis. But, going forward we need to have somebody in place. Not a permanent position.”

“I think when Teri brings back her recommendations, she will say you need someone to oversee this or oversee that,” Wright said.

“For any consultant, how long is the process…before this person comes on board?” Wilson asked Mastay.

“It could be as little as two weeks. We usually do it for one month,” Mastay responded.

“Teri could come back with her report and we could make adjustments to that,” Wilson said.

“Because we declared a homeless emergency, we voted 5-0, we don’t want to go through this long process,” Thorpe said.

“It could be a sole-source decision,” Bernal said. “If it’s more than $50,000 then it would have to come back to council.”

“I don’t know if it qualifies for a sole-source,” Attorney Smith said.

Thorpe then attempted to move approval of creating the position of Unhoused Resident Coordinator as a consultant with the hourly and maximum annual pay, which opened up a further discussion and debate.

“I’d like to not include the salary range, as that’s not enough to hire an outside consultant,” Bernal stated.

“Do we have to know how much we’re going to spend?” Wright asked.

“Two things would probably be helpful, a per hour cap and a total amount the council is dedicating to the position,” said Smith.

“Yes, that is correct, either an hourly range or a total commitment,” Mastay said.

“I would say up to $100,000,” Bernal stated.

Thorpe then made the motion to approve the position as a consultant, with pay of $50 to $60 per hour and a maximum of $100,000. It passed 3-2 with Wright and Ogorchock voting against.

Postpones Enforcement of Illegal RV Park

On a third homeless-related item during Tuesday night’s meeting, the Antioch City Council postponed enforcing the city’s codes at an illegal RV park at 701 Wilbur Avenue. Illegal RV Park Enforcement ACC091019

City Manager Ron Bernal asked if the council wanted him to look for other locations where the residents could relocate their RV’s or to help rezone the property to allow for it to be an RV park.

“It’s the city’s goal to not displace people, but the city has ordinances to uphold,” Bernal stated.

“I personally don’t want to see these people moved out on October 1st,’ Wright said. “So, I support the recommendations.

“I support the recommendations, but I’m not sure of this effort to help them locate somewhere else,” Thorpe said. “The idea that we would be nice and put them somewhere else (and pay market rate prices). We do have rules, but at the same time we have to keep people where they’re asking to be at. With clarification that ‘we’ did not do this.”

“I’m for the recommendations, but my fear is if we don’t work on this, it would open up other parts of the city for this,” Ogorchock stated.

Wilson agreed and was concerned about putting the residents “back on the street.”

“It’s ridiculous to think we would find a more affordable place for them to stay,” Motts said. “We absolutely have to give an extension on this action to vacate.”

“The extension is not part of what is encapsulated in this agenda item, today,” Attorney Smith said.

“Our number one goal is to rezone or create an overlay,” Thorpe added.

“This is October 1st, so are we going to expedite the process so we find solutions, here?” Motts asked.

“I can’t guarantee we’ll be done by October 1st,” Bernal said.

“The city manager has discretion, under exigent circumstances, around this,” said Smith.

“Citations issued on October 1st can be appealed to the Board of Administrative Appeals and then to the City Council,” said Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs.

“Only a member of the city council

“We’re not kicking these people out before council, OK?” Wright said, to applause form the audience. “I’m not. That’s not a voted on motion. I’m just making myself heard.”

Council Members Pay Raise Finalized

The issue returned to the council agenda for a second and final reading. (See related article from previous council meeting).

“I would ask that the city council reconsider their decision from the last meeting” said Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock. “I suggest a 5% increase beginning in 2021 and 5% each year thereafter.”

“This would be the first increase for the Antioch City Council in 13 years,” said City Attorney Thomas Smith. “The two cities closest in size, Concord and Richmond, currently pay more in council salaries.”

“You can’t automatically have a pay raise,” Councilman Lamar Thorpe said.

“There is no automatic raise,” Thomas confirmed.

With that Thorpe made the motion to approve the pay raise and it passed on a 4-1 vote, with Ogorchock voting against.

Council Approves Budget for Veterans Memorial Relocation

After settling the controversy over locating new, public restrooms next to the Veterans Memorial at the entrance to the Antioch Marina, the council approved spending $75,000 to relocate the memorial. It will be located into the center of the roundabout at the entrance to the marina and boat launch.

Although the council was hoping to have it completed in time for this year’s Veterans Day celebration on November 11th, city staff said they wouldn’t be able to achieve that goal.

Instead, J.R. Wilson of the Delta Veterans Group who led the effort to relocate the memorial, suggested a celebration event once the new site was completed.

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

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

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

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

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIMITED SEATING : RSVP here.

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

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Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force to gather public testimony beginning Thursday

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

About impact in city and to provide recommendations to city council

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

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

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

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

Public Testimony Hearing 1 of 4 Agenda:

Opening Remarks, 8:45 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Homelessness, 6:45 – 7:45 pm

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

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Contra Costa Health Services seeks volunteers for annual homeless count

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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