Antioch Council discusses proposed transitional housing project for city’s homeless

Delta Fair Site Plan Phase 2. Source: Dignity Moves

City will have to move quickly to qualify for third round of state funding

By Allen D. Payton

Following their closed session that began at 6:30 p.m., Mayor Lamar Thorpe called the regular Antioch City Council meeting to order at 7:25 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. City Attorney Thomas L. Smith reported out from the closed session regarding the three lawsuits against the City in Contra Costa Superior Court saying, “no reportable action on that item”. Regarding the second item of his performance evaluation Smith said, “the city council gave direction to the city attorney”.

The council approved a proclamation in memory of Ronald A. Grant who was a member of the City’s Board of Administrative Appeals and passed away on December 11, 2022. The proclamation was presented to Grant’s family and fellow members of the Board of Administrative Appeals. Ronald A Grant proclamation 021423

The council also honored February as Black History Month with a proclamation. (See related article).

Homekey Transitional Housing Project & Program Presentation

A presentation on the state’s Homekey program was provided by Dignity Moves. Part of the presentation included a proposed 50 units for Phase 1 and an additional 75-100 units in Phase 2 on the City-owned 5-acre parcel on Delta Fair Blvd. near Hwy 4 where Century Blvd. dead ends. Dignity Moves Homekey presentation ACC021423

Delta Fair Blvd area map. The yellow dot marks the proposed site. Source: Google Maps

According to the presentation, Dignity Moves is a new, non-profit that proposes using “Modular and pre-fabricated building techniques for rapid, cost-effective construction.”

The proposed project would require a capital match and operating expenses from the City of $13 million for a five-year program and up to $25.75 million for a 10-year program.

“I want to caution…when we ask questions, we not imply we’re going in this direction,” Mayor Thorpe warned the council and public.

Antioch resident and homeless advocate Andrew Becker said during public comments, “That was an exciting presentation” then complained about a recent sweep of homeless encampment.

“This presentation is an opportunity. Homekey is an opportunity,” he continued. “Respectfully, as a city we’ve put out an RFP for Homekey. Focus Strategies put out an RFP for Homekey. Where are we? What have we done?”

He made the claim that representatives of Comfort Inn approached city staff asking if they wanted to use that hotel for the Homekey program but that city staff declined and didn’t bring it to the city council to decide.

“This is the opportunity. This is the time,” Becker added.

Five other residents also spoke in support of the proposal, with two complaining that the city has been kicking things down the road in dealing with the City’s homeless.

“I’m hopeful that they come through with safety,” resident Patricia Granados said.

During council discussion of the presentation, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock spoke first saying, “I personally like the program. I’m glad (one of the presenters) spoke about other programs. With this program, there’s an opportunity to house families, kids, get them out of cars. I’m very interested, and I’d like to see more about this program.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker then said, “I like housing that goes from transition to temporary to permanent. I’ve been to a modular community, and I’ve seen what could happen, and the opportunity for gardens and taking care of their pets. All the consideration that’s put into these projects and not just the development. We are now in the potential last round is a little unfortunate. Because we had the chance…and we forfeited that opportunity and we should really apologize to the community, especially to those living on the streets.”

She complained about Comfort Inn mentioned by Becker not being brought to the council for use as a Homekey site for transitional housing for the city’s homeless population.

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson said with a laugh, “I want to thank Andrew for constantly bugging me about this.” She spoke of the Five Keys and the programs offered of getting residents connected to job training…and trauma informed services and trauma informed care, and restorative justice. I didn’t hear it. He may have said it.

Trauma means their own room,” one of the presenters said in response. She said, Gensler, a global architect firm, which designs the projects, includes that in their design.

“Our whole approach is trauma informed,” the Five Keys spokesman then shared. “We work on de-escalation…understanding what their path and journey has been. It’s not just the custodian, not just the security guard. We have staff cross-trained.”

Thorpe then said, “We did have an RFP process and we did vote to reject the proposal.”

“I anticipated that you guys would apply but you didn’t,” he said directing his comments to Dignity Moves. “We’re just as frustrated as anybody seeing folks living out on our streets. The challenges we’ve had here are timelines. Timelines take a long time.”

“Since you mentioned timelines…we’ve been talking about this since the first round of Homekey,” Torres-Walker responded. “There was not enough time…the timelines were too tight. Here we are after two years and two rounds asking for them to bring something, again in a tight timeline. We’re in the third round we had an opportunity with an insufficient timeline…because we’re not all bought into this process. The timeline wasn’t enough. This one may not be. But I’m hopeful.”

“I’m hopeful, too,” Thorpe said. “I wasn’t referring to the overall timeline of our process. I’m referring to timeline of this process.”

“The timeline is going to be really short,” one of the presenters said in response. “The state is doing the decision. There’s going to be a short fuse.” She then spoke of March as a deadline by the state.

“We will have something for the next meeting,” Thorpe said. “We’re talking about March.”

“One of the big pieces…we need to discuss the financial commitment on behalf of the city…to advertise and be sure we’re disclosing to bidders and what we’re bringing,” Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore stated.

“At the end we’re going to have to get our consultant to call a special meeting to get this on the agenda as soon as possible,” Thorpe shared.

Ogorchock then said, “I think we need to move on this. I personally don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of the third round.”

“It also looks like the comment from Dignity Moves is that it doesn’t have to be an RFP,” Torres-Walker said.

“There are other cities that have formed a development team and not gone into an RFP process,” one of the Dignity Moves offered.

“Let’s have…maybe a sidebar discussion leading up to a special meeting,” Thorpe said in conclusion.



the attachments to this post:

Ronald A Grant proclamation 021423

Dignity Moves Homekey presentation ACC021423

Delta Fair Blvd area map – yellow dot site

Delta Fair Site Plan Phase 2

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