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    …..     …..
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…..     …..     …..  
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     …..     …..
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    …..     …..
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…..     …..     …..  

California Cities Are Building ‘Sanctioned’ Homeless Encampments. Here’s What That Looks Like.

At least two California cities have established campsites for the homeless in the coronavirus crisis, offering basic services like food, security, and a bathroom.

By Emma Ockerman
May 19, 2020 —

At least two California cities are now building their own open-air tent encampments for the homeless, putting on stark display the state’s present inability to safely get people indoors amid an unprecedented pandemic.

The new, so-called sanctioned encampments” in Santa Rosa and San Francisco space out tents by several feet and enforce social distancing guidelines, improving upon the more crowded conditions in some encampments that previously left homeless people at greater risk for illness. They also offer basic services like food and security, and places to wash up and use the bathroom.

But such arrangements might be too little, too late, considering the circumstances of the pandemic, said Brian Edwards, an advocate with San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness. Usually, sanctioned encampments are a welcome alternative to the more drastic measures cities take to control their homeless populations, like tearing down tents or issuing citations.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that this is here,” Edwards said. “But when I said I wanted to sanction encampments this year, I wasn’t thinking in the middle of a fucking pandemic when people should be in hotel rooms.”


Quote of the Week —


San Francisco is expected to open several such encampments in the coming weeks. The city first invited people into its “Safe Sleeping Village” — a parking lot of 50 tents between a library and art museum, steps from City Hall — on Thursday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s unclear whether they’re cheaper or easier to set up when compared to hotel rooms, Supervisor Matt Haney told the San Francisco Examiner, but some homeless people have expressed their appreciation of the effort.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has come under fire from advocates who believe that the city’s 8,000 homeless people should’ve been placed in hotel rooms weeks ago. The city’s Board of Supervisors demanded that Breed lease 7,000 rooms for especially vulnerable people by the end of April, although she said that was unrealistic in such a short timeframe.

Now, she’s embracing the sanctioned encampments amid the “immense” logistical challenges of putting people in hotels, she said in a Twitter thread on May 15.

“While in normal times I would say that we should focus on bringing people inside and not sanctioning tent encampments, we frankly do not have many other options right now,” Breed said on Twitter on May 15. “Having places with resources serving people in the neighborhood is better than unsanctioned encampments.”

The city is currently facing a lawsuit from residents of the Tenderloin district, where tent living has risen dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

San Francisco currently has 2,176 hotel or RV units “actively” available for those who need them, according to its own data, while 1,347 are occupied. Similarly, nearly half of the 15,000 hotel spots California secured for homeless people are sitting vacant right now, according to the Los Angeles Times. That means only about 5% of the state’s 151,000 homeless people have been moved into a safe, isolated room. Cities have said they lack the necessary resources to adequately staff hotel rooms and care for the people living inside, and that the rooms take weeks to prepare after they’re leased.

“I’m really worried about starting an encampment in the first place, and it kind of being accepted as something that’s normal and OK, because it’s not,” said Eric Tars, legal director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “We have the resources in this country to do better and we’re choosing not to.”

Santa Rosa’s temporary sanctioned encampment, meanwhile, opened Monday in the parking lot of a nearby community center, where it’s overseen by the Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa. It’s expected to host about 140 people by the end of the week, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, while the city previously worked to place half as many homeless people in a local motel. Others were moved to vacant dorms at Sonoma State University.

Nearly 3,000 homeless people reside in Santa Rosa and the surrounding Sonoma County.

“The only reason we’re doing this is in response to our health emergency. This is new ground,” Tom Schwedhelm, Santa Rosa’s mayor, told local radio station KSRO Tuesday.

City officials did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment about whether there were any barriers to getting people into hotels.

Advocates have long pointed out there aren’t exactly available alternatives to outdoor living for the nation’s poor, particularly on the West Coast. Cities including San Francisco are in the throes of an affordable housing crisis, and adequate homeless shelter space wasn’t easy to come by even before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with sickness spreading fast in congregate settings, remaining shelter beds can seem outright dangerous for those who could otherwise choose to bunker down in a tent outdoors.

Sanctioned encampments have been controversially taken up by a few cities in recent years as a last-ditch solution to control burgeoning homeless populations that would otherwise build their own makeshift communities, outside the purview of city officials.

Sweeps of those makeshift communities have continued during the pandemic, too, spurring outrage from homeless people and activists who are at this point well aware of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to leave tents alone if there’s no private space available.

“In the past, we saw legalized encampments as a transitional harm reduction positive; it’s better for people to be in a place where they know they can leave their tent, leave their belongings during the day, where they don’t have to worry that someone is going to steal them,” said Tars. “But I think in this time of the coronavirus, we’re seeing that there is a possibility, using FEMA dollars, to get people into full housing.”

This article courtesy of VICE


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