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

Manny Soliz, Jr. From LinkedIn.

By Manny Soliz, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manny Soliz Jr.

Former Mayor Pro Tem & Council Member, City of Antioch

Current Antioch District 1 Candidate

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