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

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

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

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

All but one speaker during public comments supported the idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The council then took up the matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the attachments to this post:

Screenshot KPIX trailers

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

  1. Nichole Gardner says:

    Love the article. So glad our city is doing something different to deal with this homeless crisis we have in our city.

  2. Jeff Kiefer says:

    I worked with the SF homeless for 25 years. There is a reason these folks are homeless. You can’t just stick them in trailers, they will destroy them. Their underlying issues have to be addressed, then supportive housing. This will also lead to more homeless coming from other surrounding cities to Antioch. The city should partner with a local non profit, like the Salvation Army, that has experience with these issues and cam donit much cheaper than the city.

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