Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Antioch Council learns about micro-housing program for city’s homeless residents

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

Architectural renderings by Shelterwerk of micro-homes planned for Hope Village at Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek. Source: Hope Solutions

Includes tiny homes and ADU’s

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council was provided a presentation on an effort to bring tiny homes to Antioch and the two-year Partnership for the Bay’s Future Breakthrough Grant to fund the effort to get them approved in the city. The proposal includes micro-home cottages on faith owned land plus Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) on privately owned residential property.

The agencies are the Multi-Faith Action Coalition (formerly Contra Costa Interfaith Housing) and the Pleasant Hill-based Hope Solutions with help from the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) Bay Area.

“Manufactured micro-homes are less costly than stick-built homes,” said Meredith Rupp, a Fellow with Partnership for the Bay’s Future.

They have identified 41 sites in Antioch totaling 75 acres. But regulatory changes are needed. They will work with Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs on that before bringing to the city council for consideration.

“Our preliminary vision is to develop a library of pre-approved plans…ready, off-the-shelf for homeowners to use,” said Jasmine Tarkoff, also of Hope Solutions.

A Resident Empowerment Program is the “third pillar” of the effort including mental health services and support for job training, and other “wrap-around” services, shared Deborah Carney, of Hope Solutions and an Antioch resident.

According to the Partnership for the Bay’s Future website, the Breakthrough Grants program is “to help communities pass equitable housing policy. Selected local governments will receive a dynamic, mission-driven fellow who will work on community-driven local policy in affordable housing production and preservation. The Partnership will also provide two years of grant funding to community partners to engage and activate the local community. The whole Breakthrough Grant cohort will have access to a flexible pool of funding for technical assistance to meet their policy goals. The value of this support is about $500,000 per jurisdiction.”

Examples of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s). Source: Partnership for the Bay’s Future

Father Robert Rien of St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Antioch spoke in favor of the program. “I have seen homelessness right up front. We have had a very strong concern about those who are not as blessed us to have homes. One of the issues that has really burned for me are the number of families living out of their cars. The Antioch school district has 235 families living out of their vehicles. We have a number of veterans living along the river.”

His parish was instrumental in building Tabora Gardens Senior Apartments located on Tabora Drive at James Donlon Blvd.

“We have eight-and-a-half acres. We’d like to use part of our property to build housing for the unhoused. We’re hoping to build 21 units,” he added.

People affiliated with Hope Solutions and other organizations, as well as a few Antioch residents spoke in favor of the tiny homes, including Pastor Chris Watson of the Golden Hills Community Church Community Outreach Center (COC) on East 18th Street.

“The biggest area of need is affordable housing,” he said. “Our people have income. We’re trying to provide them dignity. Providing a roof over their head is a difficulty. We look forward to partnering together.”

Council Discussion

During council discussion of the item District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock wanted to know, “This is permanent housing?”

“Yes,” was the response.

“Who will be there, families?” she asked. “I would like to see it as a family unit, myself. Under the government entities the County isn’t listed. I’d like to see the County partner with us. They get money from the state.”

“I think it’s a great idea. I love the idea,” Ogorchock continued. “It’s an exciting project and I think it’s something doable within the city.”

District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, “When we say permanent housing are we talking forever, 30 years? And what is the funding mechanism beyond?”

“They’re built to HCD standards, the same as your home and my home,” Tarkoff explained. “These are not pallet homes or Tuff Sheds. This particular grant is all around being able to develop to explore micro-homes on faith owned home…streamlining the entitlement process.”

The organization is engaged in both public and private funding for the construction and ongoing costs.

“There is no plan in place to get that person into permanent housing?” Barbanica asked.

“The plan is to bring individuals and families, provide them with the housing, with support services…Hope Solutions does not place time limitations on how long an individual can stay in a home,” Tarkoff responded. “Of course, our goal is as individuals heal and want to get into larger housing, we’d like to get them into that trajectory.”

“On our end as policy makers we’ll really only be dealing with zoning,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “This is your project. We don’t set expectations. We spend our time getting the zoning done. We’re not approving anything. We’re not. Just zoning. Certainly, we want to be involved.”

“I still believe in participating in this…proposal at the church,” Ogorchock added. “I think it’s more than just zoning and entitlements.”

“Our job is to not make this cumbersome. We can easily get in the way,” Thorpe stated. “You’re not asking for permission. Let’s create the zoning and let the churches and faith-based organizations get the job done.”

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Antioch Council gets bad news on homeless program funding, proposed urgency ordinance to ban liquor stores dies

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

With only four council members in attendance, no action was taken on either item during their special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Video screenshot

City facing $8-$10 million annual deficits over next two years; ordinance required 4/5ths vote but only garnered two, ban can return for future council meeting agenda

‘Even if it’s spread out over 15 years if it’s $5 or 6 million per year I don’t know where the funds would come from if it doesn’t come from grants” – City Finance Director Dawn Merchant

By Allen D. Payton

With District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock participating via Zoom and Mayor Pro Tem and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and City Manager Con Johnson absent, the Antioch City Council held a special meeting Thursday but was unable to accomplish anything. They discussed four options to help the homeless but could not reach consensus on the desired direction after hearing the city budget doesn’t have the funds. In addition, a proposed 45-day urgency ordinance banning new liquor stores in the city to give staff time to develop an ordinance permanently banning them failed with only the proponent, District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson and Mayor Lamar Thorpe supporting it. That required three votes to move forward and if it returned to a future council agenda for a vote, it would have required a four-fifths, super majority vote of council members to approve. But both Ogorchock and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica opposed a ban.

Source: Focused Strategies

Homeless Program Options

Megan Kurtaff-Schatz, President of Focused Strategies, the city’s consultant on homeless issues, provided the presentation to the council members of an overview on strategies for them to choose from to “serve and house” homeless residents in Antioch. Unhoused Strategies presentation ACC022323

A graph in the presentation states, “Interim Housing does not decrease the unhoused population. Individuals living in temporary shelter (interim housing) are still individuals experiencing homeless.”

“What reduces homelessness is having housing available,” she said.

The charts show a current population of 475 unhoused residents in Antioch.

Kurtaff-Schatz presented three options, including Non-Congregate Bridge Housing (Interim Housing), Rapid Rehousing (rental subsidies in market housing) and Permanent Supportive Housing (Built Units). The Interim Housing choice would still result in a growing homeless population. But it would decrease with the latter two options.

Depending on the option chosen it will take between seven to 25 months to implement and the City’s commitment would last from 15 to 55 years, and Year 1 costs would be between $7 million to $12.42 million.

Source: Focus Strategies

The Built Project Upfront Commitments slide shows a total of $18.3 million to $55.3 million the city would have to make for the 15-year life of the program.

City Finance Director Dawn Merchant showed a preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 that includes a transfer in of $9 million from the City’s Budget Stabilization Fund to cover the deficit. But the chart shows deficits of about $8.4 million in FY 2023-24 and $9.9 million in FY 2024-25.

Even with budget cuts, “we’re not going to get anywhere near zero,” she said.

“The only source of funding for any of these projects is the City’s General Fund. If we stay at the $8 to $9 million deficits, that’s pretty much going to eat up the Budget Stabilization Fund,” Merchant added.

Source: City of Antioch

Public Upset, Loses Hope on Homeless Programs

Homeless advocate and Antioch resident Andrew Becker said, “It’s concerning to me…that at the last council meeting it was clearly stated by Dignity Moves that there were other alternatives outside of the RFP process. Do you know what their response was? Nothing. I talked to Dignity Moves, yesterday and they were frankly insulted. And they’re not here, tonight and Focus Strategies is here.”

So, frankly as an advocate of who are not statistics…what are we doing here?” he asked becoming quite emotional “Terri House handles our housing grants and she’s not even here. Where is she?”

Another man spoke saying, “I was excited before. Now, I’m not excited. I’m very concerned after hearing…about the money coming from the city funds. Quite frankly, this needs to be a regional approach. Cities like Brentwood and Oakley need to provide funding for this. I don’t know where I stand with this anymore. I feel like I’ve lost hope with this city. The city has let residents down, both housed and unhoused.”

A woman named Jo who said she was one of the presenters with Dignity Moves at the council meeting a couple weeks ago said there’s still time to do the Homekey program without having to go through “the cumbersome RFP process. The city already went through the RFP process last summer. We can do that quite expeditiously…within a matter of days. Remember the Homekey program…there’s limited resources and there’s going to be limited opportunities. We are here to assist.”

A man named Punit who said he is CEO and President of California Supportive Housing spoke next saying, “I reached out to Rosanna and city manager and (Antioch’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator) Tasha (Johnson) earlier this week. We already have a site in LOI (Letter of Intent)…for Homekey. We would like to work with you guys going forward.”

Council Discussion on Homeless Programs

During council discussion on the item Barbanica spoke first asking Merchant, “Is it your opinion we cannot afford to do this?”

‘Even if it’s spread out over 15 years if it’s $5 or 6 million per year I don’t know where the funds would come from if it doesn’t come from grants,” she responded. “There are some ARPA funds the city has. But understand that’s a one-time cost. It could subsidize programs going forward. We don’t have any other funding sources at the current point.”

“That’s my concern at the current point,” Barbanica said.

“Our responsibility, here is the budget,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “We can decide the priorities. We have not been deficit spending. We’ve had a balanced budget. In fact, we’ve had surpluses.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson asked about the Rapid Rehousing. “Is this program eligible for Homekey?”

“No. Rapid Rehousing is typically discretionary spending,” Kurtaff-Schatz responded. “Typically, it’s county funding.”

“If we do interim, we still need to find some type of interim housing,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day we’re trying to help individuals. Permanent housing where they are stabilized.”

“Now, looking through this, how do we get to the end game?” she asked. “I still like the Homekey funding. Maybe Andrew’s right, we drug our feet too long. But we need to do something. These are the though

“Today is the first that I’ve heard of this Rapid Rehousing. It sounds very promising.”

Ogorchock said, “We have not been deficit spending. But I don’t want to go in that route. If we pursue this avenue we would be deficit spending. There’s no guarantee on the grants. I do see an opportunity to go back and work with the county. But at this point I don’t support moving forward on this due to the costs.”

Resident Leslie May was then allowed to offer additional public comments saying, “I’d like to speak to these grants. I have been working with Mr. Con Johnson in getting more money, grants from the federal government and the state. As a member of the Contra Costa County Mental Health I know the finances. The city can apply for it. I connected him with the big grant writers.”

“That money can help the City of Antioch. If we get this grant money, we can use that money to purchase places, to renovate places…to work with one of these companies. So, it is possible. But there’s things going on behind the doors that I’m trying to help. I know what the county is doing with their funds. In response to Councilwoman Ogorchock, Antioch is off the table.

“So, I’ve been working with Con Johnson on…permanent housing,” she added.

“We adopted our budget almost two years ago. The budget hasn’t changed,” Thorpe pointed out. “We did an RFP that committed $2 million. We didn’t obligate ourselves to anything. I think part of the goal…unless I’m mistaken it doesn’t obligate us”

“If the council wishes to move forward what we’re asking is for the council to make a financial commitment,” Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore explained.

“That’s what I’m saying,” Thorpe said. “There’s a financial commitment upfront then the ongoing costs for programming. We made that commitment before. The numbers haven’t changed they’re still the same. I’m somewhat confused what happened between a few months ago and now.”

“There doesn’t seem to be consensus…support on anything moving forward,” he then stated.

“There was one comment that the City has failed. I want to remind the public that cities aren’t normally tasked with these kinds of services,” the mayor said. Then speaking about the plans with the county on land the city had owned he said, “Six years later we are still waiting on our care center. For one dollar we sold it to them. COVID happened. We do now have the Delta Landing which has been tremendous for our folks living on the streets. We have some who now have permanent housing. But we still have a lot of folks who still need housing.”

Ogorchock who is attending the California League of Cities Board of Directors meeting in Southern California then said, “I only understood this to be the Homekey process through Dignity Moves. I’m not saying I’m not interested in anything. I’m saying we can’t afford this. There are still HHAP (Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Grant Program) funds. But the state has pushed this on the cities and we as cities don’t have the funds…nor the services to support these individuals. The state is going to have to put out more funds. Cal Cities is looking at how to funnel money to the cities instead of the counties.”

“I think the options, here…two included Homekey,” Thorpe responded. “That was today’s exercise.”

“I don’t know why we can’t still look at Rapid Rehousing,” Wilson reiterated. “I’m saying the conversation isn’t over.”

“Homelessness is going up whether we like it or not,” Thorpe responded. “This is my lifetime in the making. We’re going to continue having discussions around this. I was just hoping we’d give staff direction…that we’d pick something. What we may need to do is bring back the Standing Committee on Homelessness…because this issue is not going away.”

Urgency Ordinance to Ban New Liquor Stores

On the urgency ordinance to temporarily ban liquor stores while staff had time to prepare a permanent ordinance proposed by Wilson, City Attorney Thomas L. Smith said he provided some basic information and that staff was just looking for direction.

“I want to bring this prohibition up on new liquor stores in Antioch…and have a robust discussion,” ,” Wilson said.

“The purpose of this…is that if we develop an ordinance, I wanted to give the time and space to develop it properly,” Thorpe said. “I wanted to make sure we’re on the same page before bringing an urgency ordinance.”

Public Comments on Liquor Store Ban

During public comments Antioch resident and business owner Jim Lanter said, “When we start talking about total that’s extremely drastic for a city our size. I think it’s unfair when you start talking about prohibition, sometimes. You mentioned Sycamore shopping center. Mayor, you said you were going to clean it up. Romy’s on 18th Street has been an armpit and has been since I’ve lived here.”

“You mentioned BevBox,” he continued. “I don’t think you’ve been there since it’s been improved. They’ve cleaned it up. I think we have a policing problem. I’m gong to go to BevBox tomorrow and play your video to the gentlemen who owns that and show how you’ve lumped him in with the others. You should go by there…and see what a responsible owner, even of a liquor store, can do.”

Edgar Martinez spoke next speaking of the distance from liquor and grocery stores to schools in Antioch.

“I live in District 1. I’m concerned. Why now? I care about the health of my community, I care about my neighborhood. As city council you know we have issues with certain liquor stores in our community. But I hope this isn’t the end of this. I watched the Planning Commission meeting. Why weren’t there any questions of the police on this liquor store?”

Andrew Becker spoke next saying, “I wanted to say I agree with the previous speaker these liquor stores…are in neighborhoods that have been neglected in our community. I don’t think you can place the blame on any individual business. I am concerned that we have not heard anything about liquor stores or cannabis clubs that are passed in any other district. We as a city have a responsibility to police our community. I’m talking about the whole approach. When you’re talking about that particular area…Macy’s left in 2020. Macy’s is under lease until 2030. They’re not coming back. What could that building do for our community? That support doesn’t not come through a ban on liquor stores. It is a systemic response. Going out into the community and talking with these families…bringing in the wealth.”

Council Discusses, Splits 2-2 on Liquor Store Moratorium Urgency Ordinance

During the council discussion on the proposed liquor store moratorium Thorpe spoke first saying, “The only thing I can say is that I’m not sure…I heard words like oversaturation in areas, particularly areas that have been challenged. We make small steps overnight. It’s not going to be changed in one mayor’s term. I’ve heard things that…ban may not be the right word. Thoughtful…of where we place these.”

“The urgency ordinance…makes sense so that we not over-saturate neighborhoods,” he continued comparing the effort to the temporary moratorium on cannabis businesses. “I think that’s the councilmember’s thought, here. I support what you’re trying to do, here. If it’s an urgency ordinance to come up with a policy.”

“I’m for coming up with a policy on where we place them,” Barbanica said. “What if we have a large BevMo that wants to come into our community that wants to sell alcohol? I’m more supportive of that rather than an outright ban.”

“What we’re talking about is temporary?” he asked.

“Yes,” Thorpe responded.

“We have to think about where all businesses go,” Ogorchock said. “I have concerns about bans. We need to look at each business…even if Planning Commission approves them.”

“You bring up cannabis and it was supposed to be not within 400 feet of a school, but we changed that for downtown,” she continued.

“There is no immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare. So, I don’t know why we need an urgency ordinance,” Ogorchock stated. Then speaking of Wilson’s press conference about the matter she said, “I believe that was in Councilman Barbanica’s district, but he wasn’t invited to it.”

“We have a six-month list for items we want on the council agenda. So, that’s disappointing,” Ogorchock added.

“Councilman Barbanica has spoken out about items in other districts,” Thorpe said. “It’s each council member’s prerogative to have press conferences.”

“This is just direction to prepare one (an urgency ordinance)”, Smith explained. “There are findings to bring the urgency ordinance. That part would require some research.”

“What is the urgency?” Barbanica asked.

“If applicants applied, they’re not caught off guard in the future,” Thorpe responded.

“We don’t have to have an urgency item. We can just bring this back for discussion,” Ogorchock shared.

The matter died due to only Wilson and Thorpe supporting having staff develop an urgency ordinance. However, a proposed ban can be brought back to a future council meeting agenda when Torres-Walker is in attendance and it could garner three votes.

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

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

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.



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With two councilwomen absent $2 million in federal funds approved for additional homeless housing program

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson were absent during the August 9, 2022, meeting. Video screenshot.

Instead of $6 million and no General Fund money; Torres-Walker, Wilson won’t say why they didn’t attend

By Allen D. Payton

During their August 9, 2022, Antioch City Council meeting, the three council members in attendance approved spending $4 million in state and federal funds on a transitional housing program in addition to the one previously approved at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street. The original proposal was to spend $12 million for the program at the motel previously approved by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Districts 1 and 4 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson, who were absent. (See related article)

Both councilwomen were asked the next day why they missed the meeting but neither responded.

The plan included purchasing the motel, and according to the staff report, the council considered committing $6 million in city funds, yet to be budgeted, as matching funds for an application for funds from Round 3 of the California Department of Housing & Community Development Homekey Program.

On May 10, 2022, the City Council authorized staff to pursue a Homekey application for interim housing associated with 515 East 18th Street, the location of the Executive Inn. But because the City was unable to negotiate acceptable terms for a purchase, Council support was requested for a change in approach to the City’s pursuit of State funds.

The city will instead lease the motel and has moved forward on terms with the owner.

City Owned Parcels map. Source: City of Antioch

The staff report explained the new approach which included identifying “available city-owned parcels for interim and/or permanent supportive housing opportunities for Antioch’s unsheltered residents.” It “involves the City’s solicitation of a developer partner who, once selected, will jointly apply to the State of California for funding to accomplish interim and/or permanent supportive housing in alignment and coordination with Contra Costa County’s homelessness response system. It is noted that a key distinction of interim housing is a 15-year covenant versus a 55-year covenant associated with permanent supportive housing. In either or both arrangements, participation in the Contra Costa County Continuum of Care (CoC) and Coordinated Entry System are required.” Homeless Transitional Housing program ACC080922

The new approach “intends to inspire creativity in the development community,” Assistant City Manager Rosana Bayon Moore stated.”

“This is an incredible opportunity…it’s taken us awhile to get to this point,” said local homeless advocate Andrew Becker. “But Homekey is a grant opportunity that develops housing. We rely on developers to come in and provide opportunities for our community and we’ve seen its non-existence out here in East County.”

However, a 394-unit, low- to moderate-income housing apartment project was approved by the city council in 2019 and built by a developer off East 18th Street in Antioch. (See related article)

“The state has given us an opportunity to capitalize off their dollars,” he continued. “This is a different structure…and what we can create, here can be lasting beyond what the Executive Inn is or can be in the future. These are lasting covenants for housing.”

Three other residents spoke in favor of the additional program.

City Owned Parcels Table. Source: City of Antioch

Council Discussion and Decision

During the council discussion on the item, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked, “can we use ARPA funds on Homekey projects?”

“We would have the ability to use ARPA funds in connection with this work, as long as the timeframe is within the eligibility period,” Bayon Moore responded.

“I’m hugely for this. I see all the properties listed. I’d like to add L Street to that list,” Ogorchock continued. “I think Homekey grant can help us build homes for vets and seniors, along with the homeless, and it can help those most vulnerable not to become homeless.”

“There is more money, and I gave that report at the last meeting, from the governor and the funds that were now available,” she stated. “So, I hope we go after more of those funds.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica then asked Bayon Moore, “On the $6 million, is that a one-time all in or is there going be more in the future?”

“The intention would be to identify a ceiling, a financial commitment that we would incorporate into the solicitation, so that when we signal to the development community that the city is supportive of the effort, that those dollars are available to support the project,” the assistant city manager responded. “Now depending upon the project…six million is the cap.”

“My stance on this is we’re spending a lot of money. This council is going through a lot of money,” Barbanica stated. “We’re opening new departments, where we just spent $2.5 million on the Executive Inn, we have a commitment to Motel 6 which is per use, and I understand it’s a more cost effective way to go. But we’re not funding things like the Emergency Operations Center. We’re not funding things like the pool at the water park which is a safety issue. We’re not doing that, but we can spend $2.5 million on the Executive Inn and we can commit to another $6 million but we don’t have an Emergency Operations Center that’s up to date. I do not support this.”

Ogorchock then said, “I know this council wasn’t here when Tabora Gardens was built. But we did the same thing with $1 million…that we had to pledge…and we did commit those funds.”

“And I understand what you’re saying, and I agree 110% with you,” she said to Barbanica. “And I believe those items that you brought up were on the ARPA funds to possibly be spent on those. But again, if I’m looking at ARPA funds and we can use ARPA funds with Homekey then I think this is a doable project.”

“The state is coming up with quite a bit more money…there’s a lot of money that’s coming forth,” Ogorchock continued. “So

“There’s further nuance, and we may not end up spending $6 million because a developer will say ‘I will eat up those costs’,” Thorpe said.

“Would there be possibility to lower this dollar amount and not commit to the six million?” Barbanica asked. “Andrew had mentioned two million to commit out of ARPA funds.”

“I don’t think today, we’re setting parameters for an RFQ,” Thorpe responded. “If a developer responds and says, ‘I can meet all of that,’ we’ll have another one of these and we’ll decide then. I think we’re saying we’re willing to commit up to $6 million.”

Bayon Moore then explained “one small dimension of that. The reason for the ceiling is for us to signal to the world of developers is the city is committed to bringing this online…not to exceed $6 million. If something comes below that, that’s fantastic.”

“What we did internally is work to establish a figure that we could defend,” she continued. “We looked at some…financial models and we came to the conclusion that $6 million was a safe figure to pledge. The market will ultimately speak to us whether or not that value is one that produces a partnership.”

“We just spent $2.5 million…and now we’re looking at committing to six,” Barbanica stated. “I cannot support a $6 million commitment even if it doesn’t come in at that.”

“If we are to lower the amount to maybe $2 million?” Ogorchock asked Barbanica. “It still leaves the ARPA funds on the table. I agree with you. I will fight for the EOC and the pool to get those items done because they’re safety issues.”

“If we were to at least reduce it to two million to start there would that be something that’s doable?” Ogorchock further asked.

“Specifically pulling it from ARPA funds and not the city’s general budget?” Barbanica asked in response.

“Yes,” the councilwoman responded.

“Yes,” he responded.

The council then took up all three matters associated with the agenda item, including the solicitation for the city-owned parcels, recognizing that the city land could be the location or privately owned, the pledge of the city’s financial commitment set at a ceiling of $2 million from ARPA funds and the council’s support of pursuing Homekey.

Ogorchock tried to get the city owned lots on L Street near the police department added to the list of parcels.

“That’s going to be Veterans Park,” Thorpe said.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Ogorchock responded.

“They came in and spoke to us and we gave direction,” Thorpe stated.

Ogorchock agreed to not including the L Street parcels.

Following one last effort by the city’s homeless consultant, Focus Strategies, to get the council to commit to $6 million, a motion was made by Ogorchock, seconded by Barbanica to approve the proposal with a $2 million cap and it passed on a 3-0 vote after Thorpe said, “No. Just kidding. Yes.”

“The funds can either be used for interim and permanent supportive housing,” Bayon Moore later explained. “The application will be jointly done by the city and a developer,”

The hope is to leverage the local funds and/or the value of the city-owned properties to obtain the state grant funds.

“They’re not necessarily dollar for dollar match,” she added.

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Antioch Council to consider leasing homeless motel, RV parking, hiring firm to design Rivertown event center, rent stabilization Tuesday night

Monday, July 25th, 2022

The council will consider leasing with the option to purchase the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for transitional housing and support services for the homeless. Herald file photo.

Two-year motel lease agreement includes option to purchase

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, July 26, 2022, the Antioch City Council will consider four major issues including approving a master lease with option to purchase of the Executive Inn for transitional housing for the homeless, a contract with a non-profit organization to operate the housing program at the motel, amending the ordinance on parking RV’s and boats on residential property, hiring a firm to design the proposed Rivertown park and event center on the former lumber company lot and rent stabilization. The latter will be dealt with during a study session before the regular meeting.

Another item of interest on the agenda is the approval of a new gas station, convenience store and car wash on Lone Tree Way at the corner of Vista Grande Drive across from the Cross Pointe Apartment complex.

See complete council meeting agenda by clicking here.

Rivertown Town Square rendering. Source: Save The Yard

Rivertown Park & Event Center

Consent Calendar – Item M. RIVERTOWN COMMUNITY SPACE (P.W. 514-7) Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council adopt a resolution: 1) Approving a Consulting Services Agreement with RHAA for the Rivertown Community Space Project in the amount of $350,000 for design of the former Antioch Lumber Company lot located between W. 2nd, W. 3rd and E Streets in historic downtown.

Homeless Motel Lease with Option to Purchase

Item 7. – UNHOUSED RESIDENT SERVICES – NON-CONGREGATE BRIDGE HOUSING SITE AT EXECUTIVE INN. The City Council will consider approving a master lease with Rudram LLC for the Executive Inn located at 515 East 18th Street with an option to purchase.

The two-year lease is estimated at $1,168,000 per year for a total not to exceed value of $2,336,000, to be paid from the allocation of $2.6M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds) specified for this purpose by the City Council on April 12, 2022.

Support Services at Homeless Motel

Item 8. – UNHOUSED RESIDENT SERVICES – SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR THE CITY OF ANTIOCH’S NON-CONGREGATE BRIDGE HOUSING PROGRAM LOCATED AT 515 EAST 18TH STREET. The City Council will consider authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Bay Area Community Services (BACS) for supportive services associated with the City’s Non -Congregate Bridge Housing Program located at 515 East 18th Street.

The goals of the program are to 1) provide participants with a safe place to stay; 2) connect participants with community, mainstream, and personal resources based on individual need; and 3) assist participants in transitioning to more stable or permanent housing.

The total contract is not to exceed $2,563,990 over a two-year period to be paid from $3.1M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds) for support services allocated by the City Council on April 12, 2022.

Amendment to RV and Boat Parking Ordinance

Item 5. – PROPOSED ORDINANCE AMENDING THE ANTIOCH MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING THE PARKING OF MOTOR VEHICLES, INCLUDING RECREATIONAL VEHICLES, ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council introduce, waive the first reading, and read by title only the proposed amendment to the City’s Municipal Code regarding parking motor vehicles, including Recreational Vehicles, on residential property.

Rent Stabilization Study Session

Before the regular meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. the council will hold a Rent Stabilization Study Session at 5:30 p.m. The City Council will receive a presentation on rent stabilization and provide feedback and direction to staff.

According to the staff report, at the June 14 and June 28, 2022, City Council Study Sessions, extensive public comment was received in support for tenant protection policies including an anti-harassment ordinance, a just cause eviction ordinance and rent control policies. At the conclusion of public comment, the City Council expressed support to modify the “Tenant Protections” policy in the draft Housing Element.

The draft Housing Element proposes the following to address tenant protections: 5.1.9 Tenant Protections. Pursue the development of citywide tenant protection policies for consideration by the City Council. These policies would address, but not necessarily be limited to, anti-harassment, just cause eviction, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) and rent stabilization. The process would include inclusive public outreach with tenants, community-based organizations, landlords and other interested community members. The goal of this effort is to prepare and present an implementing ordinance for City Council consideration.

New gas station Site Plan from council presentation.

New Gas Station, Convenience Store and Car Wash

Finally, under Item 6. the council will consider approving a Chevron Gas Station at 5200 Lone Tree Way on the corner of Vista Grande Drive across from the Cross Pointe Apartments. The location is currently the site of an old barn and buildings remaining from Antioch’s farming days, and a home which will be demolished as part of the construction.

According to the staff report, the project site is approximately two acres and approximately one-third of the site to the west will remain undeveloped at this time. Additionally, the proposed project would include the widening of Lone Tree Way to accommodate a 270-foot deceleration lane taper along eastbound Lone Tree Way to the proposed 30-foot driveway.

The site for the proposed new gas station on Lone Tree Way at Vista Grande Drive. Source: City of Antioch.

The project requires approval of a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation for the project site from Commercial Office to Convenience Commercial.

Public Comments

The public has the opportunity to address the City Council on each agenda item. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”. Members of the public wishing to provide public comments, may do so in one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar Platform):

  1. IN PERSON – Fill out a Speaker Request Form, available near the entrance doors, and place in the Speaker Card Tray near the City Clerk before the City Council Meeting begins.
  2. VIRTUAL – To provide oral public comments during the meeting, please click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar:

▪ You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

▪ When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit:

When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. When you are called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). The City cannot guarantee that its network and/or the site will be uninterrupted.

  1. WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENT – If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so in one of the following ways by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting:

(1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at, or

(2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at

Please note: Written public comments received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting will be shared with the City Council before the meeting, entered into the public record, retained on file by the City Clerk’s Office, and available to the public upon request. Written public comments will not be read during the City Council Meeting.

Viewing Meeting

Antioch City Council meetings are held inside the Council Chambers at City Hall at 200 H Street. They are televised live on Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or via live stream at

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$12.3 million homeless motel program approved on 3-1-1 vote by Antioch City Council

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street will be used for a transitional housing program for the city’s homeless residents. Herald file photo.

Will also look at other city- and privately-owned properties as part of Request for Proposal; forms Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee; agrees to form new city department

By Allen D. Payton

Following another round of public input and council discussion, during their meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, the Antioch City Council, on a 3-1-1 vote approved spending $12.3 million to lease the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for transitional housing for homeless residents. with Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica voted no and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, who had been opposed to the project at that location, was absent. The program is projected to cost $12.3 million over five years for the 30-room motel with a portion of funding will hopefully come from the state’s HomeKey program.

After postponing the decision for more information from city staff, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker gave her support to the project. (See related article)

“I have been clear, very transparent around this project,” she said. “Just when it costs taxpayers money. It costs us less to do preventative care. It costs us more to put people in jails and prisons than to give people opportunity with resources. We’re irresponsible with taxpayers’ dollars when we don’t get unhoused folks off the street…with no resources.”

“I want to see other opportunities, as well,” Torres-Walker continued. “I don’t think anybody’s stalling. I think there were other questions that needed to be answered and we got those answers.  Look at the cost of not doing anything. I hope we can do both, today. Move forward with this and look at other options.”

“It’s absolutely ridiculous…to make an issue of making an investment of $12 million over five years to house people, to move people through those rooms to permanent housing,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “We’ve housed people at the executive Inn then transferred them to the Delta Landing in Pittsburg.”

“We’re literally wasting taxpayer money, right now moving people from corner to corner cleaning up encampments,” he continued. “Literally, the Abatement Team, today was formed to clean up encampments.”

“The $12 million is if we pay for this, ourselves and don’t pursue HomeKey,” Thorpe stated. “I’m tired of people trying to hold up…the executive Inn. We need to get this done, today.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson moved approval that the City of Antioch authorizes, 1. Pursuit of State of California’s HomeKey Program Funding; 2. City commitment of an initial five-year pledge of local resources that amount to a subsidy of $12.3M dollars in local funds; and 3. Staff initiation of a formal solicitation of a developer partner for the subject property located at 515 East 18th Street. Torres-Walker seconded the motion. It passed on a 3-1-1 vote.

During the following agenda ll four council members present were in support of pursuing other opportunities and properties for transitional housing for the city’s homeless residents

“I think we need to be very specific,” Thorpe said. “I would encourage council to be very specific about what properties council is talking about.”

“The Delta Fair site,” Torres-Walker said. “I don’t know of other sites. That is as specific as I can get.”

“I just didn’t want to give vague instructions to staff because we own a lot of property,” Thorpe stated.

Assistant City Manager Rosann Bayon Moore suggested including privately owned parcels…“with the intent of maximizing the quality and intent of the partner we bring to the city.”

“I’m open to looking at other options and talking with the Delta Veterans Group about helping veterans,” Barbanica said.

Wilson was also in support of pursuing other properties in general.

“General it is,” Thorpe stated.

Forms Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee 

On a 4-0-1 vote with Ogorchock absent, the council approved the formation of an Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee for six months and appoint Thorpe and Torres-Walker as the members.

Agrees to Form New City Department

On a 3-1-1 vote, with Barbanica voting no and Ogorchock, absent the council gave direction to City Attorney Thomas L. Smith to return with an ordinance forming a new Public Safety and Community Resources Department, as previously discussed. (See related articles here and here)


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Antioch City Council hires Bay Bridge engineering firm to design new Bicycle Garden

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Bicycle Garden rendering. Source: City of Antioch

Will locate it at Prewett Park; postpones vote on homeless motel funding due to lack of information from city staff; formation of new department also postponed

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 26, 2022, the Antioch City Council voted to postpone a vote on spending $12.3 million over five years to lease a motel for transitional housing for the city’s homeless residents. Mayor Lamar Thorpe spoke of holding a special meeting on the matter, possibly this Friday. The council also unanimously voted to approve up to $550,000 on the proposed Bicycle Garden and locate it at Prewett Family Park. At the end of their meeting, the council on a 2-2-1 split with Thorpe stating he would be abstaining, the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources was postponed until issues being discussed about the matter in closed session are worked out

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street is proposed to be used for transitional housing for homeless. Herald file photo.

Homeless Motel Funding Vote Postponed

Following public comments and a history about the project by Thorpe, the council members offered their reasons for how they were going to vote on approving $12.3 million to lease the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for five years.  Executive Inn Homekey Program staff report ACC042622      Executive Inn HomeKey Financing presentation ACC02622

“This is bridge housing for stability,” Thorpe said. “I don’t want people giving out misinformation about our decisions up here. People have told us that we couldn’t. But dammit, we’re doing it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I’m in favor of getting people off the street. But I’m not in support of this location.”

“At $2.3 million that’s $82,000 per room per year. We’re only talking about 30 rooms,” he continued.

Barbanica then spoke of the impacts to the shopping center in Pittsburg where the  Walmart store  is located, since the Motel 6 on Loveridge Road was converted to the Delta Landing transitional housing facility for homeless in East County, and the need for more security there, as a result.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think there won’t be other impacts in that neighborhood,” he said about the area around the Executive Inn.

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker mentioned she lives in the neighborhood near the motel.

“I don’t think having the Executive Inn converted to transitional housing will cause any more problems in that neighborhood,” she said. “If it was good enough to put a school there for children then we can house people there living on the street.” She was speaking of the Rocketship Delta Prep charter school on Cavallo Road.

“I would like to see efforts for beautification and safety in this neighborhood,” Torres-Walker continued. “I do think we should move forward with leasing the Executive Inn. I really want to support the application for HomeKey for the Executive Inn and other potential sites. I do agree this one site is not the end all be all. We do have time. The application doesn’t have to be in until October.”

“It is a topic we’ve been working on for a very long time. I believe that we should have a presentation from Dignity Moves…on other properties,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “I have heard from Focus Strategies that $12.3 million is conservative. So, our reserves will be depleted. The $12.3 doesn’t include services. I’m not in favor of this site. I want to look at other opportunities.”

“The figure $12.2 does include wrap-around services,” Thorpe stated, correcting Ogorchock. “Every budget assumption has us going in the red. Generally, our sales tax does better than we project. So, to look at this number as a fixed number is an assumption.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson spoke next saying, “People have said ‘why don’t we have services for homeless?’ We’ve had migration in the Bay Area, east. Services haven’t followed.”

“I’m in agreement we do need to look at other opportunities. But the cutoff date is coming up pretty soon. We shouldn’t leave money on the table,” she continued. “We have a second date coming up. But I don’t want to keep going ‘this isn’t a good site’. Nobody’s going to be 100% happy with any site we choose. I’m saying we should move forward with something, so we don’t leave money on the table. I’m for voting for this tonight so we get the ball rolling and not keep kicking the can down the road.”

“We’re not applying for Round 2 on May 2nd. That would be an impossible effort. We are applying for Round 3 funding…in October,” Thorpe explained.

Assistant City Manager Rosann Bayon Moore spoke about research that she could make available to the council members showing “the Executive Inn is the only site that can compete with the aggressive timeline. As soon as they make their decision in December, we have to show we can bring the units online within eight months.”

“I would have preferred to see that before this and that didn’t happen,” Torres-Walker said, referring to the research by city staff. “I would also like to hear from Dignity Moves and from Home First so we can have a balanced presentation and not just Focus Strategies. Tonight, I cannot support this item without that.”

“So, we need to postpone this,” Thorpe said. “We can’t kick this can down the road. We have to move. We can meet on Friday.”

Torres-Walker then made a motion to postpone the item and Wilson seconded it. “Most votes on homeless have been 3-2 votes,” Thorpe stated. “I keep hearing it’s about this reason or that reason. It’s values. I’m sick and tired of hearing the reasons.”

The motion to postpone then passed 4-1 with Barbanica voting against.

Bicycle Garden concept video screenshot. Source: City of Antioch

Bicycle Garden Design Funding & Location Approved

Antioch Parks and Recreation Director Brad Helfenberger provided a presentation on the proposed Bicycle Garden and said the Contra Costa Transportation Authority would be the lead agency on the project.  Bicycle Garden staff report & presentation ACC042622

During discussion about the Bicycle Park, the council chose the location of Prewett Family Park for the Bicycle Garden and to spend up to $550,000 for planning and design by San Francisco-based T.Y. Lin International, the global civil and structural infrastructure engineering firm that designed the Eastern Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The funds are not currently in the budget but will be spent from the General Fund.

Council members were then asked their top two preferred locations. Torres-Walker and Barbanica supported Gentrytown Park as their first choice and Prewett Family Park as their second for the location. But Ogorchock, Wilson and Thorpe supported Prewett as their first choice and Gentrytown as their second choice.

“So, Prewett moves forward,” Thorpe said.

The council then approved the expenditure and location on a 5-0 vote.

Proposed organizational chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

Formation of New Department Also Postponed

The council then discussed the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources.  (See related articles here and hereNew department formation staff report ACC042622

Ogorchock asked to change the name to Public Services.

“As one of the committee members, of course I’m in support of this,” Wilson said.

“I would like to see this come back and have staff develop a policy on the Department of Public Safety and Community Resources,” Torres-Walker said. She also wanted the director’s position included in the ordinance.

“Not including it doesn’t mean you can’t hire one,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith stated.

“Do we normally include the positions in an ordinance?” Thorpe asked.

“Sometimes we include the top positions. You don’t have to. You can leave it out.” Smith responded.

“I don’t think it needs to be in the ordinance. Staff needs flexibility. I think that’s too much,” Thorpe stated.

“If it doesn’t have to come back in the ordinance and can come back another way, through the budget, I’m fine with that,” Torres-Walker said.

Proposed staffing chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

“I get what the mayor is saying. I’m happy to move this process forward,” Wilson said.

“So, everyone is in support of moving this forward?” Thorpe asked.

“I’ve been consistent ‘no’ on this,” Barbanica said.

“So, is that three in favor and two opposed?” Smith asked.

Thorpe said he was going to abstain.

“Should I bring the ordinance back?” Smith asked.

“We’ve been having these discussions in closed session. I’d prefer to get some of that worked out, first then bring it back,” Thorpe said.

So, the formation of the new department was postponed until an unspecified time in the future.

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Two years later five FEMA trailers intended for Antioch homeless gathering dust in city’s maintenance yard

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

The five FEMA trailers still in the City of Antioch’s maintenance yard seen from W. 4th Street on Wed, April 13, 2022, where they’ve been since March 2, 2020. Photo by Allen D. Payton

PIO refuses to answer questions; Public Works Director, other department heads including police chief not allowed to speak to media by interim city manager’s orders; no answers to two council members from interim city manager, staff; Public Records Act request submitted, goes unfulfilled

“I have knowledge that other cities could have used these trailers” – Councilwoman Ogorchock

By Allen D. Payton

Two years after five FEMA trailers arrived in Antioch to much fanfare, to serve as temporary housing for the city’s unhoused residents, they sit in the city’s maintenance yard gathering dust. What the plans are for them are a mystery as no one inside City Hall seems to know or is willing to say. (See related article)

Donated by the state and delivered on March 2, 2020, the city council had planned on using the trailers, which can sleep as many as six to eight people, as transitional housing for five families or groups of homeless individuals who have been living together in encampments or on the street. But the council and city staff couldn’t find a suitable location for them that didn’t have opposition from neighbors. (See related article)

Following up on a question from an Antioch resident, the Herald sent an email to Public Works Director John Samuelson on Feb. 28 asking, “What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received, please? Are they still in the maintenance yard?”

He responded that evening with, “I am forwarding your question to Rolando to respond.” That referred to the city’s Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla.

The email was then forwarded to Bonilla that same evening with, “This is another question from a resident. So, please respond in order for the public in Antioch to be informed.” But no response was received as of March 4.

The email was then resent on Friday, March 4 to Bonilla, copying City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Interim City Manager Con Johnson, and department heads including Samuelson, Finance Director Dawn Merchant, Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay, Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs, as well as all five council members with the additional following information: “I’m resending this email that I sent you on Monday because I haven’t heard back from you all week. What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received, please? If I don’t hear back from you by Monday, March 7, 2022 at noon, consider this a formal Public Records Act request for the information, including any and all communications between any Antioch city staff member and any others, anyone in state government and/or Antioch council members regarding the FEMA trailers and their dispensation.”

Barbanica, Ogorchock Say They Can’t Get Answers, Either

Only Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded to the questions from the Antioch resident sent to them by the Herald. Barbanica said he had asked about the trailers, as well but was not provided an answer.

In an email response on Saturday, March 5 Ogorchock wrote, “Rolando has nothing to do with the trailers. That is an item that is/should be on the [6-] month list. I brought it up quite some time ago and so has Mike. We have them at the Public Works Dept., from my understanding.”

When informed that Samuelson had forwarded the question to Bonilla and directed the Herald to obtain the answer from him and reminding her that Rolando was there the day the trailers were delivered, Ogorchock responded on Sunday, March 6, “I just sent your email to Con to get answers. I have a feeling that since the question is coming from a news outlet, all have been told to direct their questions to Rolando. That’s my guess, let’s see what he says.”

Later that day, Ogorchock emailed an additional response to the Herald writing, “I’m looking at the 6-month list, which is way over, this issue was raised by me on 12-8-2020, and then by Mike on 1-5-2022.”

The city had 10 business days to respond to a PRA request.  As of Tuesday, April 12, the Public Records Act request had not been fulfilled.

One more attempt was made via email on Wednesday, April 13 to obtain the requested documents or answer to the question, “What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received?”

4/16/22 UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore responded, “The City is in the process of identifying a suitable arrangement for transfer of the trailers.  We have consulted with the State of California and at its direction, the City coordinated with the Contra Costa County’s Continuum of Care to solicit letters of interest.  Panel interviews were conducted last week with interested organizations and a staff recommendation will be presented to the City Council within 30 calendar days.”

4/16/22 UPDATE: “Nothing to date is happening with the FEMA trailers,” Ogorchock shared in an email on Saturday, April 16. “I had asked for this to be on the 6-month list since December 8, 2020. As you can see way past the 6-month deadline.  I have knowledge that other cities could have used these trailers in communities built for such trailers.”

“It’s been shared with me that there is a possibility that a church, Grace Bible (Fellowship) specifically, would like to have them.  There could be another nonprofit that could be interested. But I’m not sure,” she added.

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