Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

New state budget includes funding for five Bay Area affordable housing pilot programs

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

The fiscal 2021-22 state budget signed into law Monday by Gov. Newsom includes a $20 million appropriation for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to underwrite the work of the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). BAHFA, which is jointly managed by MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), plans to use this money to seed five new pilot programs designed to ease the Bay Area’s housing affordability and homelessness crises.

“BAHFA was established to transform how the Bay Area delivers on housing affordability and stability,” explained Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, who also serves as Chair of both MTC and BAHFA. “We appreciate the Legislature investing some of the state’s budget surplus in BAHFA so we can start working immediately on the five pilot projects that take a comprehensive approach to solving the crisis. The state’s commitment will support many of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents today and put us firmly on the path to long-term change.”

The five BAHFA pilot programs include an online platform known as Doorway to connect residents with affordable housing opportunities throughout the Bay Area; financing and technical assistance to support and increase the acquisition and preservation of affordable housing to help combat the displacement of low-income residents; a database to track the development or “pipeline” of affordable homes across the region to help match available funding with projects in areas with the most urgent needs; establishment of an anti-displacement services network to link service providers focused on keeping tenants housed, share best practices and ensure the efficient and equitable distribution of rent-relief dollars; and a partnership with San Francisco-based nonprofit All Home to design and implement a regional homelessness prevention system.

Berkeley mayor and ABAG Executive Board president Jesse Arreguin emphasizes BAHFA’s regional approach to solving the Bay Area’s chronic housing affordability problems through what are known as the Three Ps: producing more new housing at all income levels, protecting current residents from displacement, and preserving existing affordable housing.

“The crisis is a combination of complex and inter-related problems that has been growing for decades. But by working together at a regional scale, our nine counties and 101 cities and towns no longer have to try to solve every problem on their own,” he said.

Established in 2019 by state Assembly Bill 1487, BAHFA is the first regional housing finance authority in California. While BAHFA is comprised of the same membership as MTC, its procedures also are managed by the ABAG Executive Board; and both boards must approve any decision to put a regional housing finance measure on a future ballot. Oakland mayor and MTC Commissioner Libby Schaaf serves as Chair of MTC’s BAHFA Oversight Committee.

ABAG is the council of governments and the regional planning agency for the 101 cities and towns, and nine counties of the Bay Area. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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Antioch homeless man dies from stab wound, police seek unknown suspects

Monday, June 14th, 2021

By Sergeant James Stenger #3604, Antioch Police Violent Crimes Unit Investigations Bureau

On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at about 11:41 am, Antioch Police Department patrol officers were dispatched to the field area behind 2200 Sycamore Drive for a deceased male who died from unknown causes. The male was identified as 53-year-old Fredrick Perkins, a homeless citizen of Antioch. The Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office responded and picked up Perkins’ body for an autopsy.

An autopsy was performed on Perkins and he was found to have a hidden stab wound underneath one of his armpits. It was determined during the autopsy the stab wound was the cause of Perkins’ death.

The Antioch Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit, Special Operations Unit and Crime Scene Investigators initiated an investigation into Perkins’ death. Investigators are actively following up on leads in this case and the suspect(s) is/are unknown at this time.

Additional inquiries or information can be directed to Antioch Police Detective Gragg at (925) 779-6889 or by emailing RGragg@antiochca.gov. Anonymous tips or information about this – or any other incident – can be sent via text to 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword ANTIOCH.

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Antioch Council adopts three more police reforms, homeless resident services guidelines

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

The Antioch City Council and city clerk included a new timer for public comments during their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Video screenshot.

With little to no discussion council on final resolutions council approves police lateral hiring disqualifying factors, training matrix additions and notification protocol;  uses new on-screen timer for public comments.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 27, 2021, the Antioch City Council voted to approve three additional police reforms and homeless services guidelines all on 5-0 votes. But before dealing with the major issues on the agenda, when addressing the proclamation entitled Honoring Our Elders Month, May 2021, Thorpe was severely criticized during public comments and responded with a dig at those who made them. He said, “OK. While others continue to live in the past, we will move on to the next proclamation.” Following the mayor’s comments, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker smirked.

Although the reforms were discussed during their marathon meeting on February 26, there was little to no discussion by council members on the final resolutions they adopted during the Tuesday meeting. Nor were any findings offered by council members or staff to demonstrate the need for the reforms. (See related article)

As part of the consent calendar, the council also voted 5-0 to approve spending an additional $60,000 on homelessness consultant Focus Strategies. Asked why, when the city has already hired an Unhoused Resident Coordinator, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded, “to get all the programs in place.” Unhoused Resident Consultant Contract Extension

Approve Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Police Hires

With just a few public comments and no discussion by council members, but after staff conferred with the two Antioch Police Department bargaining units, the resolution adopting disqualifying factors for lateral police hires was approved on a 5-0 vote, with a rare time that District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica moved approval and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock seconding the motion of one of Thorpe’s police reforms. APD Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Hires

Approve Training Matrix Additions

Following a few comments by the public, mostly in support but one opposing, the council took up the issue of adding language  to the Antioch Police Department’s training matrix, which will include annual, public review by the city council. APD Officer Training Matrix topics

“Having all the good police officers I’ve ever met, they always want more training, and I support more training,” Barbanica said before making a motion to approve and Ogorchock seconding, again.

“Implicit bias, effectively is racial bias training, isn’t it?” Thorpe asked Police Chief T Brooks before the vote.

“They’re separate. Racial bias could be more of an explicit bias. They’re similar. But they can be separate,” Brooks responded.

One of the other additions that will be required in the training matrix for Antioch police officers is procedural justice. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, procedural justice is based on four pillars: fairness in the processes, transparency in actions, opportunities for voice and impartiality in decision making.

The motion passed 5-0.

Notification Protocol Approved

Following a few public comments, including members of Angelo Quinto’s family asking for public communication to be included in the protocol, Barbanica made a motion to formally approve disqualifying factors associated with the lateral hiring of officers by the Antioch Police Department. However, no public notification requirements were included in the protocol. Those will be considered later, according to Thorpe. APD Notification Protocol 

The motion was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Approve Unhoused Resident Services Policy Guidelines

After the city council set aside $531,174 for new homelessness response efforts in November 2019 – with $140,000 already allocated for mobile showers and toilets, trash and sharps disposal, laundry services, motel vouchers, and pilots for safe parking programs and warming centers – and accepting five FEMA trailers that remain unused, hiring an Unhoused Resident Coordinator and contracting with a consultant at a cost of $133,000 so far, the council finally adopted policy guidelines for unhoused resident services. Antioch Policy Guidelines for Unhoused Resident Services

“This is essentially a first step,” Barbanica said. “To identify and bring services in and get people into housing. Does this include renting a hotel for housing? It does not.”

“We are trying to put together a pathway,” he continued. “This is how do we help people, right now, today hopefully get into long-term housing.”

“I think that, my belief is we need our own CORE Team and I ask that be added to the budget,” Ogorchock stated.

With no more discussion, Barbanica moved approval of the guidelines, with Ogorchock offering the second. The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

The council then discussed additional homeless related ideas including a human rights commission, all of which will be considered in committee.

 

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Antioch council to consider more police reforms, spending $60,000 more for homelessness consultant Tuesday night

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Training matrix additions to include “implicit bias training”, how to deal with “historically marginalized persons”

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the Antioch City Council will consider three more police reform proposals, including disqualifying factors for lateral hires, adding specific topics into the training matrix of sworn officers and the previously discussed protocol for notifying council members. In addition, the council will consider three issues intended to deal with the city’s homeless population, including spending $60,000 more on a contract with Focus Strategies. (See meeting agenda)

Items 8, 9 and 10 are on the police reform matters and items J on the Consent Calendar, and 11 and 12 are on the unhoused resident matters. APD Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Hires   APD Officer Training Matrix topics   APD Notification Protocol   Unhoused Resident Consultant Contract Extension

The proposed additions the police training matrix are as follows:

UPDATE: At about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who is the main proponent of the reform measures, was asked the following questions via email: regarding the proposed reforms on adding language to the training matrix, have APD officers been getting complaints in their interactions with “historically marginalized persons”? Also, why the addition of implicit bias training, which according to reports isn’t working in other departments? Doesn’t it imply that Antioch police officers are racially biased and act on it when interacting with people of color? Is there any data from the APD that demonstrates the need for this additional language in the training matrix? Again, I remind you that you signed a pledge last year to base your reform proposals on findings. So, what are the findings?

Similar questions were emailed to Antioch Police Officers Association President Jason Vanderpool at about the same time.

As of 9:20 p.m. Monday night, neither had responded. Please check back later for their responses and any other updates to this report.

Prior to their regular meeting at 7:00 p.m., the council will hold a budget study session beginning at 5:30 p.m.

If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so any of the following ways by 3:30 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting: (1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, or (2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us.

To provide oral public comments during the meeting, click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: www.antiochca.gov/speakers. You may also provide an oral public comment by dialing (925) 776-3057. Please see inside cover for detailed Speaker Rules.

To ensure that the City Council receives your comments, you must submit your comments in writing by 3:30 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting.

Members of the public seeking to observe the meeting may do so at www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

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Glazer names Contra Costa County’s Lavonna Martin Woman of the Year

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Honored for her dedicated service to the homeless as Director of Health, Housing & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County

Lavonna Martin. From her LinkedIn profile.

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, announced Thursday that he has named Lavonna Martin as 2021 State Senate District 7 Woman of the Year. Martin is the Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services, in charge of providing services to those without a home to live in – a rising crisis during the Pandemic.

“Lavonna’s selfless leadership and passionate advocacy for those in need have been a lifeline to so many people who have suffered on the streets, especially during the Pandemic,” Senator Glazer said. “She is worthy of this award in every respect.”

Lavonna Martin has worked in homeless services for her entire career, beginning at the Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco and then, for the past 21 years, at Contra Costa Health Services.  She began her work with Contra Costa County as the Deputy Director of Homeless Services, eventually became the Chief and when the Health, Housing and Homeless Services Division was formed in 2016, was named Director.

As Director, Lavonna manages a homeless service delivery system that includes street outreach, respite and emergency shelters, independent living programs for transition-age youth, and permanent supportive housing for adults, youth, and families and received an annual compensation package including salary and benefits of over $244,000 in 2019, according to Transparent California.

During the last year in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Lavonna and her team procured 5 hotels (633 rooms) to provide non-congregate shelter options to persons experiencing homelessness at highest risk of COVID-19. Nearly 1702 individuals and families have been served in these hotels to date. More than half (54%) have had a positive exit to other housing or substance use disorder treatment programs.

Lavonna’s division has worked hard to improve the health and hygiene conditions of those living outside during this crisis. Under her leadership, hand-washing stations and porta-potties have been mobilized and stationed to better support persons living outside in the cities of Martinez, Antioch, Concord, Walnut Creek, San Pablo, Pittsburg and Richmond.

To support the basic needs for unsheltered persons, the Division’s CORE team has remained operational and has provided food packs, cloth and non-surgical masks, hand sanitizers, and solar battery chargers so that our unsheltered community could charge cell phones during Shelter In Place.

Previous winners of the Woman of the Year award for the 7th State Senate District were:

  • 2020 – Valerie Ariosto, 2020 Olympian Softball, Pleasanton
  • 2019 –  Margaret Liang, President Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Tri Valley Chapter, Dublin
  • 2018 – Alissa Friedman, President/CEO Opportunity Junction, Antioch

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Council majority moves forward on bridge housing for homeless using motel, still no details on funds approved in 2019

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Figures add up to greater than 100%. Graphic from City of Antioch Update on Unhoused Strategies.

3 support 2 oppose before total costs are known; council will also consider Barbanica’s use of Pittsburg motel for Antioch homeless residents; motel not yet selected, only one responded to City’s RFP last year; another RFP will be sent out seeking program operator

Council wants to postpone sewer rate increases due to COVID-19, will decide during public hearing on June 8th

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 23, the Antioch City Council split 3-2 on giving direction to city staff to develop a request for proposal on establishing a bridge housing program using a local motel. Councilmembers Mike Barbanica (District 2) and Ogorchock (District 3) opposed the effort. Barbanica instead wants the city to coordinate with the county in securing rooms at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg to be used for homeless Antioch residents. Ogorchock was concerned about both the “astronomical costs” of the proposed program that will increase each year, and the lack of a total budget.

The council was not provided the total costs for the program because the proposal presented did not include the lease of a motel. Only one motel responded to the request for proposal (RFP) sent out by the city asking if any were interested, last year. Discussions with the owner were ended until the council made the decision to move forward with the bridge housing program and to determine what kind of program would be offered there.

Now, another request for proposal will be sent out seeking an organization that wants to operate the program and will provide what the real and total cost figures will be.

The result is the city still has yet to spend most of the funds from the $517,000 the council approved in November 2019 to help the homeless. Mayor Lamar Thorpe pointed that out and wanted to remind Jazmin Ridley, the city’s unhoused resident coordinator, that he wanted her to implement a motel voucher program amid other ideas, such as providing showers, using the remaining funds. However, Barbanica, said that City Manager Ron Bernal told him only $140,000 of those funds are remaining. Yet, in the city staff report no information was provided to the council of how much of those funds has been spent and on what. A request for a list of expenditures from those funds has been requested from Bernal.

Unhoused Strategies Report

The city’s new Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley presented the staff report on the Unhoused Strategies for the city. She shared the statistics on homeless residents in Antioch, that 75% are from within the county, including half from Antioch.

City of Antioch Goals on Homelessness

Ridley also shared about “the goals that we can meet” including:

  • Decriminalize homelessness and develop strategic encampment resolution policies focused on linking unhoused people to shelter, housing and services.
  • Invest in temporary housing and shelter that provides a pathway to housing.
  • Participate and leverage the Contra Costa County homelessness response system (H3 – Health Housing & Homeless Services)
  • Build partnerships with community partners and community-based efforts that complement City-funded and regional strategies
  • Engage in data-informed planning and investments

The program would include 30 beds to serve the estimated 238 homeless residents in Antioch, with stays of up to four months.

Program Options

Ridley also shared a list of options to assist homeless residents, which include: Homelessness Prevention Services; Street Outreach Services (CORE – the county’s Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement team); Safe Parking Sites; Sanctioned/Safe Sleep Encampments; Housing Problem Solving Services; Motel Vouchers; Tiny Homes; Rapid Re-Housing Rental Assistance; Permanent Housing Vouchers and Motel Temporary Housing Program, which is the bridge housing approach the council directed staff to pursue.

Estimated Program Services Budgets (Without Motel Lease)

In the proposed annual Services Budgets for the three options for a bridge housing program, most of the money would be used to pay staff salaries and benefits of about $310,300 to $506,219 out of the total estimated $450,000 to $858,000. The remainder would be spent on operations. Only $18,000 to $45,000 would be spent on financial assistance for those in the program. Services Budgets for 3 Bridge Housing Program Options

Public Comments

“The amount of money that the city could potentially spend is outrageous,” wrote George Medeiros. “This way of thinking is why residents are wanting to move out of Antioch. This is not what I call Opportunity Lives Here.”

Michelle Lujan wrote that she supports the bridge housing program.

Nichole Gardner wrote about the help she and her team provided to one woman to stay in a motel, recently.

“This type of project could help so many people,” she said. “Because they too are seniors, are Black and brown and endure injustices by our police department, they too are veterans. It is up to you to be bold enough to do it.”

Lucille Meinhardt wrote, “I support any effort to help those on the streets.”

Joy Motts wrote in support of the effort.

“You have the choice before you tonight to do something about it,” she wrote. “You may say it’s too expensive. But the City of Antioch spent over $1 million moving homeless encampments, last year.”

Mina Guevara spoke on behalf of her father, George offering prepared remarks. (NOTE: Not all of the remarks fit within the three-minute limit. They are provided in their entirety below.)

“He asked me to speak on his behalf,” she said. “As life-long residents of Antioch, we are concerned with how the City of Antioch has dealt with the unhoused population.

Even listening to the speakers tonight, it is painfully frustrating. I respect the work that the consultants and Ms. Jazmin have mentioned. But this is not a new problem. The roots of this problem are not new.  Yet, we are spending thousands of dollars on programs that have yet to culminate in anything besides adding more jobs to people in the city and our unhoused neighbors being overlooked and unwanted.

Today, we know the root of most homelessness – mental health needs, addiction, domestic violence, and often people who work jobs but do not earn enough to live in this increasingly expensive community.  We know what people need. Why can’t we just stop “researching” and “proposing” and start providing?

My family runs a 501(C)3 dedicated to providing food to those in need. We work closely with the homeless in Antioch and East Contra Costa.   As in, often six days a week we are visiting with the unhoused, using the act of breaking bread to build relationships and help find solutions and avenues for supporting these community members who need help.

The thing is, in the last nine months, as we feed people and connect daily – we have yet to see anyone from the City reaching out to help.  Excuse me – I do want to give Councilwoman Orgorchalk credits as she has met with many unhoused neighbors with us many times and has worked to provide the help that we or the individuals were not able to obtain.   For example, one unhoused member had been desperate calling for medical aid from CORE for months.  It wasn’t until Councilwoman Ogorchalk made persistent calls and she get CORE to visit this man and provide him the medical aid he needed.

The unhoused are just as frustrated by the City of Antioch as we are.

How the city is spending our tax dollars is concerning.  As someone who works compassionately and tirelessly with the homeless, I am concerned that thousands of dollars are available, but not available for the people who can benefit most.

I have asked city leadership and staff about where the money for the FEMA trailers has gone. I have asked about the job position of a homeless advisor.   Porta-potties were given and then taken away – the same with water stations.  CORE is inconsistent and offers a band-aid for a solution.  And when I say band-aid, I literally mean band-aids.  And now there is a new program on the agenda – but what faith should we have in you as city leadership to do what you saying you are going to do.  The track record is not great.

Even listening to Mr. Curt, the amount of debris from homeless encampments is frustrating to listen to.  He does acknowledge it is a complicated problem.  But, just as recently as December, a camp was razed and there is more debris now than there was when people lived there.  The dumping problem is easy to blame on the unhoused, but – I’ve seen people come in a make major debris dumps in the camp.  I’ve seen stolen cars stripped.  It’s easy to blame the unhoused – but that is a resident issue – irresponsible residents not wanting to pay for legal dumping.

Ms. Ridley even just stated that data leads to the solution.  So, what I get from that is that thousands of dollars have been invested into this problem and there have been no solutions. And solutions will be layers. But what data can you show me that supports the actions that have been taken in correlation to the money that has been provided for the city.  Transparency to showcase data-led solutions would be welcomed by the community.

It seems like there are problems. We all see them.  We see there is money to be provided for the issues around the unhoused.  But all we see is money being used in non-transparent ways and the problem being pushed from one side of the city to another.

I question how this new program is going to benefit the actual unhoused population in Antioch?  How this money is being spent should be clearly communicated to the public.  How can we trust that you are going to do what you say you are going to do?”

“Antioch residents, housed and unhoused, deserve better leadership and better solutions than this,” Guevara concluded.

Council Discussion & Decision

“We need wrap-around services there…to get to some type of permanent housing,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said.

“If you’ll look at the back of the services budget, you’ll see you will have a couple case manager and a couple service managers,” said Kate Bristol of Focus Strategies, the city’s consultant on homeless issues. “The county has a robust variety of services but they’re hard to access. You’re going to have a whole array of different pathways for people to get out back into housing. There’s no one-size fits all.”

“The service providers might be on sight all the time or during the week,” Wilson said.

“The case managers will be there during regular hours,” Bristol said. “But you will want to have someone there all the time. The intensive services will be there during regular working hours.”

Torres-Walker “I get the frustration from the last speaker and it definitely felt heartfelt and my heart is open. As someone who spent their young adult years homeless and sleeping in parks…then moving on to home ownership I can understand how difficult it is to get all the streets.”

“Tonight, we’re not voting on a hotel or a hotel for trailers but a budget and recommendation for services,” she said.

“No. What we will do is be asking staff to put out an RFP (request for proposal)…and giving staff direction to look for great opportunities, like the state’s Homekey program,” Thorpe responded. “We would be asking for the bridge housing request for proposals. We’ve already done the request for proposals for the hotel. We received one. But the negotiations stopped because we didn’t know what kind of services we’ll be providing.”

“I just want to be clear about that,” Torres-Walker continued. “I did talk to Mr. Bernal about the whole motel model and it’s my understanding that’s on hold for several months. Because the Executive Inn is in my district and right up the street from my home. Living here, as well has not been a walk in the park and there’s a lot of work in the community around this motel…that raise a lot of concerns for me.”

She asked that the council “consider as we are spending time to get this set up that we spend time and resources in making the community safe.”

“All of the hotels are in District 1,” Ogorchock said. “So, if this program goes forward it will be in District 1.”

“Do you have the costs for the lease on the motel because it’s not in here,” she said.

“We’re talking about the bridge housing concept,” Thorpe said.

“But that would be part of the cost,” Ogorchock said. “So, even if you’re looking at the bridge housing and motel setting those aren’t the total costs.”

“The final costs will come once we have a service provider,” Thorpe said. “We will send out an RFP and agencies will respond to it and give us the final numbers. We’re not budgeting anything…because there has been no proposal that has the services and hotel.”

Ogorchock pressed again about the total costs.

“These aren’t real numbers. These are rough numbers that Kate Bristol and her agency put together to say this is what they could look like,” Thorpe responded. “We will be able to show what the costs will be once the request for proposal comes back. These are just concepts.”

“What model of best practices have you seen on this kind of project?” Ogorchock asked.

“On bridge housing…is it still the best practice over a community shelter?” Bristol asked. “If you identify the right providers who know what they are doing they will bring their best practices. They are embedded in the way the services are delivered.”

“Can you share the benefits versus the cost on a proven model…another city or someone else that’s doing this?” Ogorchock asked. “One that is city-funded.”

“I don’t have an example of a city of your size. There are some that larger cities have invested in. I can get you their costs and the results,” Bristol responded.

“Are you talking about the San Francisco one? Because it failed, I believe,” Ogorchock said.

“I’m not sure which one you’re talking about. They have several,” Bristol stated. “They started one on Mission Street then started replicating around the city…but that was before COVID. But they’ve been kind of shifting to motels. But the direction in the field in California around best practices is to move to these, somewhat more service enriched shelter approach, that when you leave you exit to housing.”

“Where would they go after four months? Would they just go back to the streets? Ogorchock asked.

“No. That wouldn’t be the goal. You can set a target for a length of stay. You can start with 120 days. That would be an average. Some would stay fewer months, some would stay longer,” Bristol responded. “They could get bridge funding from the county or find another pathway to get to housing. That’s really the job of the folks doing the case management.”

“It’s a difficult topic, trying to find the right fit for the city,” Ogorchock said. “What are the costs versus benefits? What are we looking at? What are the expected outcomes?”

“I would say that the goal of this is to reduce the unhoused population as much as possible within the community,” Barbanica responded. “But my belief…is that we can’t do nothing. Not only is there a human cost, here. But there’s also a cost to the community. The costs you’re seeing here the city is already experiencing.”

“But those costs aren’t going away. You’re talking about 28 individuals going into a hotel,” Ogorchock responded.

“I’m not saying I’m for this program, here. But the time for doing nothing is over,” Barbanica stated. “We have an opportunity…to do something…whether we’re doing all of this or none of this. I don’t want to say the city has done nothing, but there are individuals staying in those hotels, right now. If you don’t find housing for them, you’re going to put them back on the street (at the end of four months).”

“The costs are astronomical,” Ogorchock said. “It’s not going to stop the dumping or the feces or the urine in the river. But if you don’t have the services for them, the mental, drugs and alcohol. If we’re not going to oversee what they’re doing in the room then what are we changing? Instead of giving a helping hand we want to help them out of their situation.”

“We probably should have prefaced this…cities have a choice. We can either continue spending resources…reacting to the situation. That’s solved absolutely nothing. All we have done is accommodate people on the streets,” Thorpe said. “Or we can help house people…so we can stabilize people’s lives so they can get the services.”

“We’ve been paying millions of dollars chasing people from corner to corner,” he continued. “This is bridge housing…Fresno just opened their fourth hotel to adopt this concept to move folks forward into permanent housing. Breaking news, there are no services in East Contra Costa County. Literally we have a CORE Team that we share with all the other cities as an entry point for services that don’t exist in our community.”

“We can stay reactive and waste taxpayer money or we can come up with solutions and provide interim, bridge housing then get them into permanent housing,” Thorpe added.

“We are looking at spending a lot of money. Something needs to occur here, for the community for those who are unhoused,” Barbanica said. “In 2019…over $500,000 has been earmarked to go to the unhoused. We used part of that money to hire the unhoused resident coordinator. There’s at least $140,000 to be spent on temporary housing and literally none of that has been used.”

He spoke of his tour of the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg. It has 176 rooms. “30% of the residents there are from Antioch. It’s a 90- to 120-day program. Again, wrap around services. There’s a doctor on-site. Within 10 days they meet someone to get into permanent housing…either to reunite with family or get them into a program.”

“The county has just received 100 Section 8vouchers…and $3 million for permament housing,” Barbanica continued. “I’ve asked Jazmin to use that $140,000 to help get people off the street.”

“I spoke to (Pittsburg Police) Chief Addington. Calls (for police service) at the hotel, itself have decreased over time. The calls to the surrounding commercial areas have increased,” he pointed out. “They are actually now paying two officers…because of the calls for service in those shopping centers. I’m asking for a hybrid of this.”

“I’ve spoken to Lavonna Martin of the county and she said the cost for this type of program would be about $2.5 million,” Barbanica stated. He then suggested using the $140,000 to pay for rooms for Antioch residents at the motel in Pittsburg.

“It won’t house everybody, but neither solution will house everybody,” he continued. “There’s not enough people in CORE. We need to partner with the county to get some people assigned to Antioch. Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”

“One thing I want to know, Homekey is being 100% paid for by the state,” Ogorchock said. “First responder calls have increased…at that motel. Doing a hotel ourselves is going to be a cost that we’re going to have year after year. These increase year after year, right?”

“You’re going to have to factor in costs going up,” Bristol responded. “You’re going to have that at the Motel 6.”

“But that’s paid for by the county,” Ogorchock said.

“If you get the county to dedicate a certain amount of rooms at that motel, then you can get started sooner,” Bristol responded.

“I know that we are not talking about a motel, tonight. If we were I would be in full support of it, but we are not. It would only be viable in District 1,” Councilwoman Torres-Walker said. “A community that you neglect and overlooked for years and don’t invest in and provide quality police services…I’m not saying this isn’t something that anybody will support. But we should be served as residents, as well. Quality of life is important…you can’t keep asking people to be burdened and give and give and give and not get something in return.”

Wilson said, “We do also need to think about the surrounding community. The Motel 6 idea I would like to hear more about. I know that with the county program that is set up there, most the residents there are either COVID-positive or high-risk for COVID. Is there going to be a way to keep people safe and keep people healthy. If we have a healthy, COVID-free unhoused resident, we don’t want to have them mix in that environment. But I want to hear more about Motel 6.”

“We need to give direction on bridge housing…do we want to move forward on that?” Thorpe asked. “I see Torres-Walker nodding her head.”

Barbanica said “no” as did Ogorchock.

“I see we have a majority to move forward on the bridge housing,” Thorpe said.

“We asked if there was any outreach to the residents around that hotel,” Ogorchock then said.

“We can still do that,” Thorpe said. “We had two community conversations, Mike and I. There seems to be good feedback. Other folks say it should focus on emergency housing, quick and fast. We’ve talked with Rocketship (Delta Prep K-8 school nearby).”

“We are to pursue an RFP on a bridge housing type model and look for grant funding opportunities,” City Manager Ron Bernal said.

“The Motel 6 concept I will bring back to council. If we can do both…let’s get all the information and do a determination,” Thorpe then said. “I know there’s frustration around the lack of spending $500,000. We haven’t wasted the money because we haven’t spent the money. I really want Jazmin to get going on the motel vouchers.”

“I know all council members have been out there. We all get calls. It tears our hearts out to see fellow human beings living in the conditions they are,” he said. “I know every staff member, every council member is committed to this issue to get people on the right path and get them into permanent housing. I want to applaud my fellow colleagues. I also want to applaud the advocates out there for holding the fire to our feet.”

Council Opposes Sewer Rate Increase, But Will Still Hold Public Hearing Process

In other council action, the members unanimously agreed that they want to postpone increases in sewer rates. But the Prop. 218 mailed notification of a potential rate increase and public hearing will still be done.

“It doesn’t mean we have to do the rate increase,” Ogorchock said.

If council postpones the rate increase, city staff said that will mean a greater rate increase next year, rather than smaller rate increases for both years.

“Is it possible CARES money or whatever it’s going to be called, that it can be used to help individuals?” Ogorchock asked. “Or is that a gift of public funds?”

“I believe that will be a question for counsel…because we have a lot of leeway in the use of the (federal) relief funds,” Thorpe pointed out. “That will be a separate agenda item. We need to have staff do what they’re going to do. But when it comes back we don’t have to raise the rates.”

“We are not voting to increase rates. We are just voting to examine this issue,” he said. “After we do the Prop. 218 and have our public hearings, then we will decide if we’re going to raise rates. We are in the middle of a global pandemic and the last thing we want to do is raise rates.”

The public hearing date is set for June 8th.

The council still approved the process for the notification and public hearing, but on a 4-1 vote with Barbanica voting against.

The council then took a break before listening to 215 written public comments, according to the mayor. Plus, 10 people in the audience would speak live, according to City Clerk Ellie Householder.

But Ogorchock asked to suspend the rules to finish the consent calendar, first. The council agreed and approved all the items on the consent calendar.

Thorpe then reduced the time for each public comment from three-minutes to one. Click here to watch the entire council meeting, and listen to all the public comments at the end of the meeting.

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Antioch Council to discuss possible Bridge Housing Program using local motel

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Source: City of Antioch

Program would be part of City’s strategy to transition unhoused community; might include use of five FEMA trailers at an estimated annual cost range of $450,000 to $858,000 for staff and operating costs, does not include cost for leasing motel

By Rolando A. Bonilla, Public Information Officer, City of Antioch

Tonight, as part of the update by city staff on Unhoused Strategies for the City of Antioch the City Council will explore the possibility of implementing a Bridge Housing Program for the City of Antioch. (See staff and consultants’ report here: Unhoused Strategies for Antioch report)

In October of 2018, the City of Antioch was forced to declare a shelter crisis due to the fact that there were no shelter beds available to meet the demand for the city’s unhoused community. From that point, through a series of task forces and ad hoc committees, the city council began the process of developing its policy framework with short- and long-term strategies to support Antioch’s unhoused community, including approving spending $517,000 in one-time funds. To date most of those funds have not been spent. The remainder could be used to help fund the program.

According to the staff report on the agenda item, last year the council approved hiring consultant Focus Strategies who conducted a Motel Housing Program Feasibility Study “looking at temporary program program options that could be operated out of a motel site.” Estimated costs of the program range from $450,000 to $858,000 depending on which option the council chooses.

The report also states, “The planned project will obligate the City to an annual expenditure of between $450,000 and $858,000 for the services and program operating costs excluding the costs of master leasing.”

An email was sent to City Manager Ron Bernal and all five council members asking how much the cost will be for the master leasing of the motel, in other words the cost for renting the 30 rooms from the motel owner.

“There needs to be a strategy that will lead people to permanent housing,” the report also reads.

“As a community, Bridge Housing is the answer we need to solve the chronic issue of unhoused members of our community living on Antioch streets,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “There is nothing more basic and fundamental than the dignity of a place to call home. Through Bridge Housing, we will be able to help our most vulnerable while also strengthening our city as a whole.”

If the council directs staff to further pursue a Bridge Housing Program, Antioch will formally move towards a model that integrates housing and robust supportive services that ensures all residents have access to the assistance they need to navigate into permanent housing.

“As a city, the needs of unhoused residents challenge us on a daily basis.  Contra Costa County is a large geographical area and Antioch is one of 19 cities competing for the County’s regional resources.  A local framework enables us to take direct action and best position Antioch to reduce the number of unhoused residents living in encampments,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. “This kind of approach will improve the quality of life for the entire community.”

According to a recent study, in 2020, the City of Antioch identified 238 individuals as unhoused with half being identified as Antioch natives. Council action to proceed would provide a green light to solicit bids for support services and formally launch grant seeking efforts.  Grant opportunities may encompass support services, housing costs and any capital needs to establish the program, in addition to other strategies identified in the City framework.

Allen Payton contributed to this report. Please check back later for any updates.

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Antioch’s new Unhoused Resident Coordinator getting to work on solutions to one of city’s major challenges

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Jazmin Ridley. Photo: City of Antioch

By Allen Payton

Antioch has its first Unhoused Resident Coordinator, to help address one of the major challenges the city is currently facing: homelessness.

Jazmin Ridley was introduced to the public during the council meeting on January 12 by Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore.

“Jazmin joined the city team in early December as Antioch’s first Unhoused Resident Coordinator,” said Bayon Moore. “Jazmin is inquisitive, analytical, energetic and committed to serving others.”

“She is well acquainted with the importance of the safety nets that counties provide, having worked most recently in Sacramento County where she provided critical navigation assistance,” Bayon Moore continued. “For Jazmin, this is a return home to Antioch as a proud graduate of Deer Valley High School. Jazmin’s love of learning has been a journey. As a young adult she attended U.C. Davis where she studied Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies.”

She also has two master’s degrees, one from the University of Illinois in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, specifically in Brazilian History and in Public Administration from National University, which she earned while working full time.

“Thank you so much for taking the chance on me. I know how important the issue is of housing our most vulnerable residents and I’m up to the task,” Ridley shared during her introduction. “I’m elated that I am in Antioch and working for the City is a blessing. I’m going to do everything I can to work and contribute back to the city that raised me.”

On her LinkedIn profile, Ridley in  her role as Human Services Specialist for Sac County she wrote, “For the past several years, it has been a privilege to serve alongside the team at the Department of Human Assistance as a human services specialist, where I advocate for the health and well-being of public assistance applicants. During this time, I have been able to assist hundred of program applicants by working one-on-one with my clients to determine their needs, present available benefits, and explain complex social service policies in Spanish and Portuguese.”

Ridley “built expertise in a wide range of governmental programs, including CalWORKS, CalFresh, SNAP, healthcare programs, and the Affordable Care Act” and is “recognized as a subject matter expert in Welfare to Work eligibility.”

In her new role, she will work to “implement strategies, avail(able) resources, and collaborate with regional partners and stakeholders in working toward an effective response to the homelessness within the city.”

Ridley’s past employment also includes working for five years as a tutor to high school students and working as an instructional assistant in after school program with academic and recreational activities for elementary students. She is currently a Board Member and Secretary for the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento.

“Homelessness and the needs of the unhoused touch nearly every aspect of our agency,” Bayon Moore said during her introduction of Ridley.  “We are excited to see staffing of this key role embedded in the city manager’s office to help strengthen Antioch’s response to such an important community topic. Please join me in welcoming Jazmin, sharing your insight and supporting her efforts.”

Ridley can be reached at (925) 779-6893 or via email at jridley@antiochca.gov.

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