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

Some Bay Area Homeless Sweeps Continue, Despite Coronavirus Moratorium

Encampment closures scheduled in Cupertino, San Jose

SAN JOSE, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: An encampment is photographed along the Story Road on-ramp to U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Despite most Bay Area cities agreeing not to remove or "sweep" homeless encampments during the pandemic (per CDC recommendations) Caltrans has continued to remove some camps. Caltrans has gotten special permission to dismantle this encampment. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

By: Marissa Kendall
September 14, 2020 —

Homeless residents living in tents along Cupertino’s Wolfe Road thought they were safe. Following federal health guidelines adopted around the Bay Area, city officials promised not to force them to move until the coronavirus pandemic abated.

But this month, with county and state-wide shelter-in-place rules still in effect, Cupertino officials changed their minds. They plan to dismantle the camps in the next few weeks.

And they’re not the only ones. Many Bay Area cities, including San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, pledged not to remove or “sweep” homeless camps for the duration of the pandemic, to limit the spread of COVID-19. But despite those assurances, some sweeps have been reported in all three cities as officials look at camps they say have become too dangerous for homeless residents. Now activists worry those displaced residents face a greater risk of contracting the virus.

SAN JOSE, CA – SEPTEMBER 11: Vehicles drive past an encampment along the Story Road on-ramp to U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Despite most Bay Area cities agreeing not to remove or “sweep” homeless encampments during the pandemic (per CDC recommendations) Caltrans has continued to remove some camps. Caltrans has gotten special permission to dismantle this encampment. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

“Sweeping people at all during the pandemic shows a complete lack of humanity toward the people, and a complete ignorance of the CDC recommendations regarding unhoused people and the virus,” said Shaunn Cartwright, an advocate and volunteer outreach worker based in Santa Clara County.

If housing is not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage cities to leave encampments where they are  — clearing them can cause people to disperse throughout the community, break connections with their service providers and potentially spread COVID-19.

But city officials also cite health concerns in their decisions to remove certain encampments they’ve deemed hazardous. And they say they offer services to residents displaced by encampment closures. But activists worry that’s not enough. Even with new shelters, interim housing sites and hotel rooms set aside for homeless residents during the pandemic, those options can’t accommodate everyone.

In San Jose, Caltrans received special approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and the state’s Office of Emergency Services to remove an encampment at Story Road and U.S. 101 this week, according to city spokesman Jeff Scott. The camp presents a safety concern because it’s less than five feet from traffic traveling more than 45 mph, Scott wrote in an email, adding the city will offer “support services” to anyone displaced.

SAN JOSE, CA – SEPTEMBER 11: Luis Valencia sorts recyclables as vehicles drive past the encampment where he has been living for the past 6 months along the Story Road on-ramp to U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Despite most Bay Area cities agreeing not to remove or “sweep” homeless encampments during the pandemic (per CDC recommendations) Caltrans has continued to remove some camps. Caltrans has gotten special permission to dismantle this encampment. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

The encampments in Cupertino present a similar concern.

The camps — three small clusters of tents along busy Wolfe Road at the on and offramps to Interstate 280 — are just feet away from cars whizzing past. Last month, a man who city spokesman Brian Babcock described as a visitor to the encampments was killed in a hit-and-run collision.

“I just hope that people know that what I’m trying to do is difficult and that we’re trying to do it with as much compassion for everybody as possible,” said City Manager Deborah Feng. “We’re doing our best in these trying times.”

And there’s another factor at play: Some of the tents sit at the edge of the Vallco construction site, and workers need access to the area so they can start setting up utilities for the multibillion-dollar project, according to the city. The development will replace the defunct Vallco Shopping Mall with 2,402 apartments, 400,000 square feet of retail and 1.8 million square feet of office space.


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In Oakland, activists have reported several encampments being swept during the shelter-in-place, including one on B Street in East Oakland.

“While things have definitely diminished, they’re still actually happening,” said Dayton Andrews, an organizer with the United Front Against Displacement.

Last month, signs appeared at an encampment at 38th Street and Manila Avenue ordering residents to vacate, Andrews said. In the end, after sending residents into a panic, city workers ended up doing a trash cleanup, consolidating the camp from two blocks down to one, and moving it to the other side of the street.

“In the time of social distancing, people were crammed closer and closer together,” Andrews said.

A representative for the city did not answer emailed questions about encampment closures.

In Cupertino, Santa Clara County is working with the city to offer temporary shelter — or housing, if possible — to residents in the Wolfe Road camps, according to Deputy County Executive Ky Le. Specific details have not been finalized. There are no homeless shelters or transitional housing programs in Cupertino.

SAN JOSE, CA – SEPTEMBER 11: A person walks past shopping carts and an encampment as a vehicle drives past along the Story Road on-ramp to U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Despite most Bay Area cities agreeing not to remove or “sweep” homeless encampments during the pandemic (per CDC recommendations) Caltrans has continued to remove some camps. Caltrans has gotten special permission to dismantle this encampment. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

But with affordable and transitional housing scarce throughout the county, Josh Selo, executive director of West Valley Community Services, worries where displaced residents will go.

“I’m hopeful that the work that the city and the county are doing will lead to a safe, housed option for these folks, so we’re not just pushing the problem somewhere else in the county,” he said.

The city also is working with Caltrans, as the majority of the tents are on Caltrans land. A removal date is tentatively set for Sept. 21.

That date is looming over Wolfe Road encampment residents like 39-year-old Yesenia Torres, who has been homeless about eight months. She worked driving shuttle buses for Google until she lost her license recently because her epileptic seizures made it unsafe for her to drive.

If someone offers Torres housing when they dismantle her camp, she’ll jump at the chance. But she’s not convinced that will happen.

She says the uncertainty of where she’ll live next month is making her medical condition worse. She worries she’ll start experiencing stress-induced blackouts.

“It’s not a good feeling at all,” Torres said.

This article courtesy of The Mercury News



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