Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
San Francisco, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Bay Area universities and homeless advocates released a report on Thursday revealing the various barriers homeless San Franciscans face when accessing housing…..  The report’s authors, the Coalition on Homelessness and researchers with the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Santa Clara University surveyed 600 temporarily housed San Franciscans, with a focus on transgender people …..  Participants revealed inequities that homeless transgender people face to obtain housing, poor shelter conditions, crowded living spaces and strict curfews, created even more barriers to housing. Fifty-eight percent of participants said they would prefer a legal homeless camp with basic amenities like showers and toilets while 34 percent reported having substance abuse issues…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Sacramento, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California is making an “unprecedented” effort to address homelessness, two days after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to massively increase housing production….. The governor said the state has placed more than 22,000 homeless Californians in 16,400 hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic, and is giving cities and counties $600 million to purchase the rooms and convert them into permanent housing….. Local governments also got another $628 million in emergency homelessness aid….. “It’s self-evident that this has to be our top priority and it is,” said Newsom……   A bill heading to Newsom’s desk would create a state Office to End Homelessness, led by a new “homelessness czar.” But the governor said Wednesday he already has a homelessness czar — a seemingly fluid title, given that he’s used it to refer to six people in the past two years, including himself……      HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..
Oxnard, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard could soon transition from an affordable hotel option to permanent supportive housing for 70 of the county’s homeless residents, thanks to a state funding effort that aims to house California’s most vulnerable homeless individuals….. The Vagabond Inn is under consideration for funding under Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s efforts to protect homeless residents who are high-risk for COVID-19. In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in funding for cities and counties to convert motels, hotels and other housing types into permanent housing…..  “This is an opportunity that allows us to both respond to COVID-19 and respond to homelessness and the long-term need to provide housing,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER     …..     …..
Stanton, CA – Sept. 3, 2020     The County of Orange and Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted three applications as co-applicants and in partnership with the City of Stanton under the State Homekey program, all located in the City of Stanton, for a total request of $28.1 million in funding…..   The County recently received word that the State reserved funding for both The Tahiti Motel and Stanton Inn and Suites applications….. Two of the motels identified for funds in the City of Stanton include The Stanton Inn and Suites, on Katella Avenue and the Tahiti Motel, on Beach Boulevard. A third motel is in negotiation with the motel owner, they say. By the end of the project, 132 new affordable homes will be available for those experiencing homelessness.   Although this does not yet represent an award from the State, it is one step closer to securing funding to make the Homekey program work…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER…..     …..     …..  
Paso Robles, CA – Sept. 2, 2020      The temporary camping facility for homeless residents has been operational at the Borkey Flats site for a few weeks. The site has restrooms, showers, and a safe needle exchange program, and a safe parking area….. The City’s Community Action Team (CAT) has been visiting homeless encampments in the riverbed. They have visited 15-20 camps and informed individuals of the new camping site and of the city’s intent to clean up the riverbed to mitigate fire risk and protect water quality…… To date, three encampments have been cleaned up of all debris and waste products. The camping site has not seen high levels of utilization to date, but the city has seen a drop in fire activity since the CAT team has been active and cleanup has begun….. The city will need to move the Borkey Flats encampment in the winter given that it is in the flood plain, and continues to work with homeless service provider partners to identify long-term solutions…..     HOMELESS PERSPECTIVE CALIFORNIA TICKER    …..     …..

Can Alternative Living Encampments Help With The Homelessness Crisis?

Advocates fear they’re a stopgap solution that could become permanent.

At Camp Hope, a formal encampment located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, people experiencing homelessness have a safe place to pitch their tent, protected from the wind and rain by three-sided sheds. Paul Ratje/High Country News

By Peter Rice
May 7, 2020 —

Last year, Jose Morales found himself homeless, sleeping behind a Walmart in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The former machine operator and occasional landscaper had lost his housing in Anthony, a small town that straddles the Texas-New Mexico border. 

Needing a place to set up camp, he selected the site behind Walmart so he could keep a low profile while being close enough to ask for help if he needed it. “I was looking for a place to feel safe,” he said. 

One day, after stopping at the nearby El Caldito soup kitchen for a meal, Morales heard about a possible opportunity for improved shelter: Camp Hope. A formalized encampment for people experiencing homelessness, the facility is run by the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, a nonprofit that provides an array of housing, case management and other social service programs for the local homeless population. After a brief intake process, Morales secured a campsite on the sprawling campus at the southern edge of town. 

Camp Hope is about an acre in size and consists of a few dozen campsites spaced out in neat rows. Most of the tents are set up inside individual shed-like structures that help keep out the wind and rain. There’s an on-site kitchen, running water and bathrooms. For someone in Morales’ situation, being at Camp Hope was a big improvement. 

He also feels much safer than he did behind the Walmart. He no longer has to worry about being discovered or harassed by landowners or police. At regular meetings, he and his fellow residents hash out rules. At Camp Hope, those include prohibitions on open fires and smoking inside tents. The encampment is fenced, and Morales participates in 24-hour security patrols around it.  

Theft is not unheard of, but Morales feels comfortable leaving his tent and his bicycle to work temporary jobs in town during the day. He’s received help with acquiring a driver’s license and is looking forward to one day getting a permanent job and home. 


“It’s a nice place for the next step.”


“It’s a nice place for the next step,” he said.  

Formalized encampments like this are popping up in other cities around the West. Aberdeen and Olympia, Washington, have set up new encampments in recent years, and Spokane and Durango, Colorado, are also thinking about transitional living options. The benefits are clear: It’s a quick, cost-effective way for cities to provide a safe and sanitary alternative housing option for people experiencing homelessness. Still, housing advocates worry that it’s merely a Band-Aid, taping over a much larger societal problem. Worse, they fear it diverts political capital away from the search for a lasting solution.

Jose Morales points out his management shifts on the schedule posted outside the front office at Camp Hope.
Paul Ratje/High Country News

THE HOMELESSNESS CRISIS HAS overwhelmed the West. States like Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California are dealing with large homeless populations; an estimated 150,000 people live without permanent housing in California alone. Addiction, mental illness, rising rents and limited shelter beds all push a slice of that population to seek refuge outside.  

People have to sleep somewhere, after all, but laws generally prohibit camping on either public or private property. With no official authorization, those in need improvise shelters wherever they can — usually in parks, along trails, in alleys or under bridges, but sometimes even in front yards or parking lots.

The American flag flies in the commons area at Camp Hope where donated clothes and other supplies are available.
Paul Ratje/High Country News

For municipal or county leaders under pressure to do something about the situation, officially sanctioned encampments offer key selling points. Trash removal and sanitation are easy to handle at a central location. Staffers can be posted to help with security and the development and enforcement of camp rules. And, assuming a local government has some vacant land or a spare parking lot, camps can be assembled in a matter of weeks. If need be, they are easy to break down and move. 

“It’s not like buying a building or leasing a building, where you’re kind of stuck,” said Colin DeForrest, the homeless response coordinator for Olympia, Washington. There, officials set up an encampment with potable water, waste disposal, perimeter fencing and an on-site host to watch over the 115 tent sites.

Another advantage for political leaders: Camps are cheap. Between staff and supplies, DeForrest said, his facility costs about $250,000 per year to operate. (The city is looking to boost on-site services, which would double that price.) In Las Cruces, Nicole Martinez, executive director of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, said she spends $12,000 per year on supplies and insurance for Camp Hope, plus the cost of one full-time staffer. Compare that to Albuquerque, where voters passed a measure last fall allocating $14 million for the construction of a new 300-bed emergency shelter, which should be completed in 2021-22.

Formal camps solve some of the other logistical challenges involved in serving a sprawling homeless population. It’s easier to help people if they’re all at one location; Camp Hope, for example, offers nearby assistance with food, job opportunities and permanent housing. 

FOR THOSE IN FAVOR of these encampments, the success of Morales and other camp residents who have found some stability is a proof of concept. People like DeForrest see homelessness as an immediate public health issue that requires quick action. “It’s mitigating human suffering and health and safety concerns,” he said. “I would definitely recommend it to any city.” 


“I hate to think of it as a permanent solution, but it is. We don’t see it going away.” 


David Dollahon, the assistant city manager of Las Cruces, considers the camp a success even though he is not comfortable with the idea of people living outside on a long-term basis. “It has worked out well for us,” he said, adding, “I hate to think of it as a permanent solution, but it is. We don’t see it going away.” 

But advocates like Jenny Metzler, the executive director of Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, see that very permanence as the problem.

Garden beds are a part of Camp Hope’s campus on the edge of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Paul Ratje/High Country News

For Metzler, homelessness is not a hopelessly complicated and intractable issue. Rather, it’s a simple shortage of places to live. She believes that society has a choice: It can either pursue limited temporary solutions, such as shelters and camps, or it can attempt to solve the problem in a more permanent way, by offering housing vouchers for regular apartments and building more affordable housing.  

Metzler has good things to say about Camp Hope. Still, she doesn’t see encampments as helping with the larger problem. She worries that they divert attention away from the ultimate goal: permanent housing. 

“Herding people into a camp doesn’t address the issue of homelessness,” Metzler said. “Ideally and ultimately and very possibly, housing would be the solution.” 

This article courtesy of High Country News


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