Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Council tables decision on location for homeless trailers, supports initiative limiting Sand Creek new home development

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Caltrans employees towed the five FEMA trailers to Antioch on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2019.

Council also extends moratorium on evictions and rent increases to July 15

By Allen Payton

On two unanimous votes during their meeting Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council chose to postpone any decision on a location for the five FEMA trailers intended to provide temporary housing for homeless families with school children, and to support the November ballot measure limiting new home development in the Sand Creek Focus Area.

“The council can give the emergency shelter overlay designation to all three properties,” Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs said during his staff report on the trailer matter. He defended the Planning Commission’s decision to recommend placing them at the fairgrounds.

“Their reasoning is not what it sounds,” he explained. “They’re not opposed to a homeless shelter. They wanted a really nice site. They wanted to make sure we do the best we can.”

During public comments, Andrew Becker asked about the viability of the fairgrounds site, since it already had hookups and if the city had considered any showers were on-site. The Nick Rodriguez Center has showers.

Mike Stewart spoke next sharing concerns about the Fulton Shipyard Road location, “with a focus on safety for the children. The actual available area…about two acres. The balance of the sites is the city transfer facility…basically the city dump. Trucks moving in and out all day long. There is no grocery, no playground, no children near the Fulton Shipyard site.”

Anthony Fieros who owns a home on W. 10th Street across from one site said, “This is the middle of a residential area. It’s a terrible location next to the fire station, there. It’s noisy. It’s just a bare parking lot. No electricity, no water, no sewer. I’d encourage a no vote for everybody.”

Lucy Meinhardt supported the rezoning designation writing, “It’s past time to implement the recommendations of the homeless task force.”

Sherry Fitzpatrick wrote, “I do not believe the trailers should be placed in residential areas. This will not be temporary. It will be an ongoing expense to the city. It’s a nice, feel good idea, but the city should not be in the social services business. The trailers should be placed on Contra Costa County or state property with services. Emergency housing is 180 days or less. What then?”

Dawn Bright wrote, “I’m opposed to the…housing overlay for the three sites. The commission directed the staff to open a conversation with the agriculture board for using the fairgrounds. Please stand up and fight for Antioch.”

Susan Welsh in opposing locating the trailers on W. 10th Street wrote, “The property at 301 W. 10th Street is in the Downtown Specific Plan. It would reduce property values in the area. Plus, it’s a trailer park in a residential area. San Jose received trailers from the state…and is now returning them due to problems. It would be cheaper to rent five apartments in different areas of the city.” She supported considering locating the trailers at the fairgrounds.

Fire Chief Bouchard wrote, “The fire district has some significant concerns at 301 W. 10th Street. As you know, fire stations are 24-hour facilities. The proposed use…could draw many persons to the area. The additional vehicular traffic…could impede our fire services.”

Sheila Driscoll wrote against all three locations and in support of the fairgrounds’ location.

Mike Barbanica wrote about his concerns of placing them in residential areas. “Please do not place the trailers…specifically on Fitzuren Road.”

The final comment supported placing the trailers on the fairgrounds.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts was the first council member to ask questions.

“Can you speak to the fairgounds site,” she asked City Manager Ron Bernal

“The idea of using the fairgrounds…the governor’s office identified…seven fairgrounds in the state and ours was not one of them,” Bernal responded. “I spoke with the fair manager…he said his property did not qualify and was being used for other purposes. It’s being used for longer-term tenants. The city council may want to pursue this at a higher level than just the fair manager.”

Motts then asked about the “amenities that would need to be added, such as safe, overnight parking” for the Fitzuren Road site.

City Manager Ron Bernal said the Fitzuren site would need “electrical hook-ups for four trailers” as well as “some grading, some gates…sidewalk, curb and gutter would need to be installed. A significant amount of work would need to be done.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe then made a motion to the item.

“There are other options we’re looking at,” Motts said as she offered a second to the motion. “We are looking at Fitzuren as a safe, overnight parking spot. We have yet to find a safe place to do that. We do know that families are living in their cars overnight.”

While it costs money, she pointed out, “The cost to not do it far outweighs that. We’re spending millions of dollars to move people around. They’re affecting our drinking water. Fires are being set. They call 9-11 and ending up in our hospitals. I just want to promise the community that there are things being done. The bottom line is this is temporary. The goal has always been to get people into permanent housing.”

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock then said, “The Fulton Shipyard is not a good area for any youth to be in. In listening to the comments. I don’t think the other two locations are viable, either. Then again, you have to look at these trailers. We thought they could help. But when you look at the 180 days you can stay in them…would the students be uprooted?”

Wright then called for the vote.

“I am for one of these properties,” Thorpe added. “But some recent conversations that we can follow up on…we may not even have to go in this direction.” He expected that to occur “by the end of the week.”

“I’ve had some conversations, too,” said Mayor Wright. “The conversation with the fairgrounds did not include the discussion of additional infrastructure such as five pads.”

With that the council voted 5-0 to table the matter.

Supports Sand Creek Area New Home Development Limits Ballot Measure

On another unanimous vote, the council adopted a resolution expressing its support for approval of the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative to change General Plan designations within the Sand Creek Focus Area and permanently require voter approval of amendments to the city’s Urban Limit Line. Resolution supporting Sand Creek LAVD initiative

The initiative would prevent the development of homes west of Deer Valley Road and reduce the total number of units to 2,100 from 4,000 previously approved by the city council. Any additional development would require a vote of the people.

However, the initiative is challenged by new state law that prevents cities from downzoning property already zoned for residential development either by council vote or initiative.

The Zeka Group, owner and developer of the planned Zeka Ranch project on the west end of the Sand Creek Area, as well as adjacent property owners, are expected to file a pre-election lawsuit against the proponents and city.

The initiative was adopted by the city council in 2018 after enough signatures of Antioch voters were gathered to qualify for the ballot. But a judge, in response to a lawsuit by Zeka and another affected property owner, tossed out the council’s approval of the initiative and required they place the measure on the November 2020 ballot, instead.

Approve Use of, Application for $2.3 Million in Housing Grant Funds

In other council action, they approved on a 5-0 vote, the use of $2,365,410 in Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA) grant funds. According to the staff report the funds are to be used “for the purpose of assisting persons who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness; housing rehabilitation and the development of accessory dwelling units; and creating homeownership opportunity for Antioch workers and renters earning from 80 percent to 120 percent of the area median income.”

The council also adopted a resolution authorizing the application for PLHA grant funds from the state.

“Is that $2.3 million guaranteed?” Mayor Sean Wright asked.

“As long as ACD accepts our proposal we are guaranteed to receive some amount of money, up to the $2.3 million… the first year up to $400,000,” said Teri House, the city’s housing consultant.

Wilson, I assume you applied for the maximum amount. Did you have a guideline of what kind of program you want to use this money for?

“Yes. The plan continues the plan that the CBDG sub committee has established over a decade of our housing successor funds…and homeless assistance,” House said. “This just continues those programs…that have been on going for at least a decade. And yes, we applied for the maximum.”
“Thank you. Good to hear,” Wilson responded.

Expires Moratorium on Evictions & Rent Increases, Antioch Covered by County Ordinance, State Orders

In final action, the city council voted 5-0 to expire the City’s rent increase and eviction moratorium. The action was taken because the county’s moratorium, approved by the Board of Supervisors and runs through July 15, applies to cities as well as unincorporated areas in the county. According to the city’s new urgency ordinance, the City Council finds that “residences and businesses…will continue to have protections from eviction and adequate ‘grace periods’ to repay unpaid rent…from the Governor’s Executive Orders, Judicial Council Emergency Rule, and the County’s Urgency Ordinance.” Urgency Ordinance on Eviction & Rent Increase Moratorium ACC062320


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Antioch Council to consider location for five FEMA trailers for homeless Tuesday night

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

The five trailers currently stored in the City’s maintenance yard. Herald file photo.

Planning Commission recommends using state owned Contra Costa Event Center (fairgrounds) instead of one of three city owned properties.

By Allen Payton

During their regular meeting this next Tuesday night, June 23, the Antioch City Council will finally have the opportunity to decide where to locate the five Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers donated by the state to help with the homeless crisis. The City received the trailers on March 2, just two weeks before the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order was issued by the county, which according to Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts has delayed the matter. (See related article) The matter was also delayed because the council wanted to hear from the Antioch Planning Commission on the matter, first.

City staff has offered three different city owned properties for locating the trailers, including one on Fitzuren Road next to Highway 4, between Contra Loma Blvd. and G Street; one on W. 10th Street in the parking lot of the Rivertown Resource Center, and one on Wilbur Avenue in the industrial part of the city. However, the Antioch Planning Commission opposed each of them for various reasons. See full city staff report, here: Emergency Shelter Trailers Location Options ACC062320

The commissioners heard the matter on June 3 and according to the city staff report, “passed a resolution recommending that the City Council make the proposed text amendments but did not recommend that any of the proposed sites be rezoned to include the ES (Emergency Shelter) Zoning Overlay. The Planning Commission sited concerns about each of these properties. On the Fitzuren (Road) site, the Commission expressed concerns about the proximity to Highway 4 and the associated noise and pollution. On the (West) 10th Street site, the Commission was concerned about the loss of parking for the adjacent community center. At the Fulton Shipyard (Road) site, the Commission felt that the shared use with heavy City operations and the associated truck traffic was inappropriate for family housing, along with the lack of nearby services. The Planning Commission suggested that staff pursue use of the Contra Costa County Event Center (fairgrounds) RV Park for these trailers.” (See map and information on each location, below).

The City has issued a request for proposal to hire a non-profit organization to oversee the management of the trailer program and needs that contract in place before moving anyone into the trailers. The target population for the trailers are homeless families with children attending Antioch Unified School District schools.

The matter is item 6 on the agenda. The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. and can be viewed livestream on the City’s website or on Comcast Local Cable Channel 24. To submit a comment for this or any other item for Tuesday’s council meeting agenda, please use the form on the city’s webpage, here.

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Contra Costa County delivers sanitation stations to slow COVID-19 in homeless camps

Thursday, April 16th, 2020


By Kim McCarl, Assistant to the Director, Communications, Contra Costa Health Services

Contra Costa County and several of its cities are working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in local homeless encampments by placing handwashing stations and portable toilets near them.

Four handwashing stations and four portable toilets with attached handwashing stations were placed at Martinez’s Waterfront Amphitheater on Tuesday, the first of several sanitation equipment deliveries planned in coming days.

The stations were ordered through the Contra Costa County Emergency Operations Center in support of local cities that requested the assistance, including Antioch, Richmond and Walnut Creek.

“We must work proactively with our homeless population to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to save lives,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “People who lack housing are particularly vulnerable. Without running water, it is very difficult to wash your hands and practice the hygiene needed to reduce your risk of infection.”

City governments in Antioch, Richmond and Walnut Creek are now determining where to place as many as 10 handwashing or portable toilet stations each, based on locations frequented by residents in their communities who are experiencing homelessness.

“During this challenging time, we need to support each other. We have been working closely with all cities in Contra Costa to ensure they have what they need to meet the most pressing response needs at the local level,” said Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes Martinez.

Nearly 2,300 people need housing on any given night in Contra Costa, according to the most recent data available through the county’s annual homeless point-in-time count.

“Assisting people who need housing during this challenging time helps everyone,” Martinez City Councilmember Noralea Gipner said. “To flatten the curve and keep our healthcare system ready to respond, we need to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable people in our community.”

CORE outreach teams from Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3) have been delivering sanitation supplies, such as hand sanitizer, to people living outdoors for several weeks to help improve sanitation at area homeless encampments.

H3 has also coordinating closely with county homeless service providers to identify clients who are at elevated risk due to age or health and place them in hotel rooms, and to temporarily transfer occupants of crowded shelters to hotels to better maintain physical distancing.

Through California’s Project Roomkey, H3 has secured 450 hotel rooms in the county for temporary use by homeless residents. As of Tuesday, no COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at homeless shelters or service providers in Contra Costa County.

Visit to read the order or for more information about COVID-19.

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County health officer suspends intakes, orders social distancing at homeless shelters

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020


No. HO-COVID19-07



DATE OF ORDER: April 14, 2020   Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code, § 120295.)

SUMMARY OF THE ORDER California is in a State of Emergency because of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a substantial danger to the health of the public within the County of Contra Costa (“County”). COVID-19 can easily spread between people who are in close contact with one another. This Order is issued based on scientific evidence and best practices as currently known and available to protect vulnerable members of the public from avoidable risk of serious illness or death resulting from exposure to COVID-19. The age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population of the County place it at risk for serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19. There is growing evidence of transmission risk from infected persons before the onset of symptoms. Thus, all individuals who contract COVID-19, regardless of their level of symptoms (none, mild or severe), may place other vulnerable members of the public at significant risk. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19 and no specific treatment. The Health Officer of the County of Contra Costa has determined that there is an increased risk of COVID-19 among persons living in large homeless shelters, and that the shelters must be depopulated temporarily to help slow COVID-19’s spread and prevent the healthcare system in the County from being overwhelmed. On April 14, 2020, the depopulation of Bay Area Rescue Mission located at 200 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond CA 94801 (“the Shelter”), will commence.


  1. Commencing on April 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., the owner and operator of the Shelter (collectively “Shelter Operator”) and all staff members and volunteers who work in the Shelter shall suspend the intake of persons to reside at the Shelter, including but not limited to accepting applications, conducting interviews and background checks, or otherwise authorizing any person to stay overnight at the Shelter if the person is not a resident of the Shelter as of the time and date set forth above.
  2. To the extent that the Shelter Operator currently provides or arranges for services to be provided to residents of the Shelter or other homeless persons, other than providing space for overnight stays, those services may continue to be offered, but only on the condition that all participants practice social distancing as set forth in Paragraph 3.
  3. All residents of and other persons who enter the Shelter shall practice social distancing by remaining at least 6 feet away from all other persons while in the Shelter.
  4. This Order shall become effective at 2:00 p.m. on April 14, 2020 and will continue to be in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer.
  5. Copies of this Order shall promptly be: (1) made available at the Office of the Director of Contra Costa Health Services, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 200, Martinez, CA 94553; (2) posted on the Contra Costa Health Services website (; and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy.
  6. If any provision of this Order or its application to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, then the reminder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.
  7. Questions or comments regarding this Order may be directed to Contra Costa Health Services at (844) 729-8410.


Chris Farnitano, M.D. Health Officer of the County of Contra Costa   Dated: April 14, 2020

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

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

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

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

Inside one of the trailers.

By Allen Payton

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

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

Each trailer can house between six and eight people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Antioch to receive five FEMA trailers for homeless Saturday morning

Friday, February 28th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Dear Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo Bruno

Antioch #CupOfJoBruno – a long time self-publication platform for mental health wellness and healing trauma

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

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

From the Antioch Homeless Encampment Task Force Facebook page.

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

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Very little,” Bernal said.

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

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

“I’m agreeing,” Thorpe responded.

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

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

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

The council then unanimously approved the agreement.

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