Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

Antioch Council’s homeless subcommittee proposes spending $300K for emergency housing

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was joined near the Antioch Amtrak Station by members of Louie Rocha’s family and city staff for the press conference Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

Plan named for Louie Rocha, a homeless resident recently killed by a train; to pay for 15 rooms at former Motel 6 in Pittsburg; requires council approval; Glover says year-long program already serving about 40 Antioch unhoused residents and there’s currently a wait list

Michael Rocha, brother of Louie Rocha speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

By Allen Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, as members of the city council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Unhoused Residents, have proposed the council approve spending $300,000 more to help homeless residents with emergency housing. Thorpe said the name would be the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, in memory of the homeless resident who died, recently after being struck by a train in downtown while walking to the public restrooms at the Antioch Marina parking lot.

That amount is in addition to the $519,000 approved by the city council in December 2019 to be spent to help the homeless. Those funds were used to hire a consultant, motel vouchers, and portable toilets that were vandalized and removed. A full accounting of the use of those funds has been requested of city staff and one council member by the Herald multiple times but it has yet to be provided. (See related article)

During a press conference, Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021, near the Antioch Amtrak Station, Thorpe, was joined by members of Rocha’s family, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, and the City’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley, to make the announcement. Barbanica was unable to attend due to a medical procedure, the mayor shared. Rocha was not related to the principal of Antioch High School with the same name nor his mother, Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha.  (See press conference video)

Antioch’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator Jazmin Ridley speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

The proposal requires at least three votes of council members to approve the budget expenditure. If approved, the funds will be used to pay for 15 rooms at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg, owned by the County and purchased for $17.4 million, last year. (See related articles here and here)

The former motel is currently undergoing renovations and appears unoccupied. When asked about the matter, Supervisor Diane Burgis was not aware the former motel was closed.

12/3/21 UPDATE: Funds May Not Get 15 More Antioch Homeless Residents Off the Street

When reached for comment Supervisor Federal Glover confirmed the former motel was closed for renovations saying, “But we moved the residents to another location. We didn’t put them back on the street. We will have a grand opening next Monday.” He didn’t know when residents would move in but added, “That will be shared during the event.”

Asked if Thorpe had spoken to him about the $300,000 for 15 unhoused Antioch residents, Glover said, “no, but I believe he’s been speaking with Lavonna Martin,” who, until recently, was the Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services. He also shared “we’re already serving Antioch residents” and estimated that figure to be about 40 people. “We welcome partners who want to contribute financially to support the program. We had enough money from the state to purchase the motel, and the County has budgeted some funds for the ongoing costs. But we’ll be applying for grants and looking for others to contribute.” Glover also said there’s a wait list for rooms at the former Motel 6 and shared they “expect residents to be there for about a year. But hopefully some can move on, sooner. It depends on each individual.”

The $300,000 proposed by the Antioch council’s subcommittee would be used to pay for current program costs and may not result in helping 15 more unhoused residents from living on the streets.

Questions for Thorpe, Barbanica

Questions were then sent via email to subcommittee members Thorpe and Barbanica, asking if they were aware of how the $300,000 funds would be spent by the county and if the funds could instead be spent to ensure 15 additional unhoused Antioch residents would be helped off the street by using voucher at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street or other motels in the city. They were also asked how soon the Antioch program would begin now that the Planning Commission has voted to recommend approval of the Transitional Housing Overlay District for the Executive Inn. Please check back later for any responses.

———– End of 12/3/21 update.

Thorpe’s Prepared Remarks

“A few days ago, a lifelong Antioch resident living on our streets was tragically killed by a train trying to get to a public restroom at the City’s Veteran Memorial and Marina.

Last Monday, I attended a candlelight vigil outside of City Hall in his honor and had the opportunity to speak with members of his family to offer my condolences. On Tuesday, I opened our first in-person city council meeting in his memory with a moment of silence.

His death along with many other similar deaths throughout our Country symbolizes everything that is contrary to our American values. Individualism doesn’t free ‘me’ or any of ‘you’ from the greater ‘we’ which is needed for community cohesion.

In January of 1981, three months before I was born, President Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed in his first inaugural address to the nation, ‘Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.’

President Reagan couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I was born in prison, the state government said, we’ll provide stability for this child by placing him in foster care with the appropriate support system until he’s 18. Thank God the government stepped in to help me when I had no one else to turn to. While things weren’t easy growing up poor by any stretch of the imagination, it was the stability the government created that allowed me to join and succeed in the Navy.

Later, it was the government that created the stability for me to complete college using federal grants and loans, and it was the government that provided me and my family the opportunity to purchase our first home right here in the City of Antioch.

Since President Reagan, and every U.S. president since him, including members of my own political party, have overseen major cuts and reforms in social safety net programs, which has helped push and keep many more people into poverty, housing insecurity, and homelessness.

In Antioch, we have not shied away from the issue of homelessness. Over the last two years, the City has worked on leasing the old Executive Inn on East 18th Street to provide housing with the appropriate wrap-around programs to provide temporary stability for those living on our streets to get back on their feet.

It’s been about a year and a half since we started that process. Tomorrow, the Antioch Planning Commission will be meeting to discuss this very important issue. If all goes well, the item then moves to the City Council after 30 days.

So today, I’m announcing a joint proposal by Councilmember Mike Barbanica and I called the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, which authorizes an additional $300,000.00 towards homeless services specially to secure 15 rooms from Contra Costa County at the Motel 6 in Pittsburg for individuals living along active railroad tracks in and around downtown Antioch.

In addition, today, our Police, Code Enforcement, and Abatement Departments will be meeting to produce a plan that proactively concentrates on these areas to ensure we’re moving folks from here and into housing.

This program will not work without the participation of everyone, meaning we can no longer accept that this dangerous area is acceptable for people to live in. I’m calling on all homeless advocates, ministries, and others to find new locations to do the lord’s work. It’s much, much too dangerous here.”

Ridley and Bayon Moore offered additional details about the program and Michael Rocha, Louie’s brother, thanked the mayor “for the help we’re trying to get.”

“The homeless are really difficult to work with and work around, and I’ve been dealing with it for 30 years,” Rocha stated. He then thanked Thorpe “for getting the word out.”

 

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New organization forms in Antioch to help the homeless, tell their stories

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

Antioch Homeless Coalition founding members (Top L-R) Lacey Brown of Justice Advocates and Resources of East County, Nichole Gardner, (Bottom L-R) Andrew Becker and Mariah Williams, hold their first meeting. Video screenshot.

By Lacey Brown

I am so excited to finally share our first AHC (Antioch Homeless Coalition) meeting! (See YouTube video)

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with Nichole Gardner of Facing Homelessness in Antioch, Andrew Becker with the non-profit Here Today Here Tomorrow, Inc. and Mariah Williams of ThisActiveArt, to create what I know will be an amazing opportunity for our City.

This is mostly introductory – watch the first few minutes to discover who we are, why we chose to start the AHC, and what our hopes are going forward!

Every other week for our meeting, an agenda will be put out with topics of discussion surrounding homelessness in Antioch and you will have the opportunity to participate in that discussion if you’d like to be a guest for something in particular! Our official website, along with an interest form you can submit, will be put out later this week.

On the “off” weeks when there isn’t a meeting, we will put out videos of those living on the streets in Antioch telling their stories in their own words. I’m looking forward to you all getting to know some of the amazing people we know and love here in this City.

If you know someone currently or formerly unhoused (or if that’s you!) who is interested in being a member of the coalition, please reach out and we can help to accommodate however possible.

If you have ideas for future agenda items and discussions (after watching this video and seeing what we already have planned,) please feel free to send them to any of us, or email antiochhomelessnesscoalition@gmail.com.

Our second Antioch Homeless Coalition meeting is up and we had two very special guests this week! Please check it out: https://youtu.be/V6EOttutaeo and the next agenda items were announced at the very end if you’re wanting to get involved!

Looking forward to coming together and making a difference.

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Antioch Council agrees to form commission on homelessness

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Graphic from Unhoused Strategies report. City of Antioch.

By Allen Payton

During their discussion of forming a commission on homelessness, the Antioch City Council was split on when to do so. Proposed by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, both District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock wanted to wait until after the Bridge Housing Task Force is done with its reasons.

Although Torres-Walker said she had proposed a task force, she argued in favor of forming a permanent commission to deal with both homelessness and renters, saying the issue is on-going.

“It can become concurrent with the phasing out of our Bridge Housing Task Force,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe, offering a compromise to Barbanica and Ogorchock.

He then joined Torres-Walker and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson in supporting the formation of the commission.

There was no formal vote to form the commission, yet but merely direction to staff that the council wants to form one. Council will still need to decide the number of members on the commission and the proposed purpose and duties of the commission.

A vote to form the commission will be brought back by staff at a future council meeting.

General Public Comments

At the end of the meeting, during general public comments for items not on the agenda, Angelo Quinto’s mother and father, Cassandra Quinto and her husband Robert Collins, called for a third-party investigation of the Antioch Police Department. She claims there was a cover-up regarding the reports by the four officers, whom she named, that interacted with her son last December, after which he ended up in the hospital, where he died three days later.

Regarding Angelo Quinto’s death, the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office stated, “Although the decedent had injuries consistent with a struggle with his family and law enforcement, none of the injuries appeared to be fatal.”

“I will never be silent. I will forever be Angelo’s voice,” his mother added.

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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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