Should LB Create City Areas For Allowed Encampments As Sac'to Offers Cities Sums To Use Encampments To Dispense Homeless Services?
(Nov 1, 2021, 5:55 a.m.) -- Should the City of Long Beach create areas allowing homeless encampments and pursue sums now offered by Sacramento to use encampments to dispense homeless services?
LB Councilmembers may be asked to vote in the coming weeks or months on those two hot button issues, now proceeding on parallel tracks.
The California "Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council" (HCFC) has released applications offering funding for a new "Encampment Resolution Grant" program that will hand out sums on a competitive basis" to cities that [Gov Newsom release text] "commit to addressing specific, persistent encampments by using these resources to provide pathways to permanent housing for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness." The state legislature included $50 million in its 2021-22 adopted budget to provide homeless services in encampments.
The HCFC will fund projects across the state that [Gov. Newsom release text] "prioritize the most unsafe and/or persistent encampments around the state...to focus on high priority encampments that pose the greatest threat to health and safety" and "provide services for people in those encampments to address the immediate crisis of unsheltered homelessness and provide a path to permanent housing."
Sacramento's stated goal is to "support the sustainable restoration of public spaces to their intended uses while safeguarding the needs of unhoused people seeking shelter."
The state agency encourages eligible local entities to submit "concepts for innovative, efficient service delivery models to assist persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness in encampments, including proposals for new partnership opportunities with the state and with philanthropic organizations." Applications for the competitive grants are due by Dec. 31 and HCFC plans to announce awards for the first projects in spring 2022.
Meanwhile inside Long Beach City Hall, a "Homeless Services Advisory Committee" -- nine non-elected individuals, one chosen by each Councilmember plus two at large chosen by the Mayor -- is considering whether to recommend that the City Council support creating areas at currently unspecified locations in the City for approved homeless encampments.
The proposal to create "sanctioned" encampments surfaced in an Oct. 6 presentation to the Committee by its City Hall management staffer who said the issue has been discussed internally at City Hall by individuals he didn't name. He described experiences with approved encampments in other cities (including San Francisco) in positive terms (no negatives) and gave no indication city staff had sought any feedback from neighborhood or taxpayer groups on applying the concept here.
Committee members responded with various levels of approval (no dissent) and were encouraged to contact their Councilmembers on the issue, now agendized follow-up discussion at the Committee's Weds Nov. 3 meeting.
Developing with further to follow.
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