Should LB Create Areas for Homeless Encampments?

By: 
Bill Pearl

Sacramento offers cities sums to use encampments.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says in a news release that 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 “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 “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.” The City Council can decide whether to seek and (if approved) accept an encampment grant with applications due by Dec. 31.

This coincides with discussions inside City Hall by a “Homeless Services Advisory Committee” (nine non-elected appointees, one chosen by each councilmember plus two at large chosen by the Mayor) on whether to recommend that the City Council support creating areas -- at locations currently unspecified -- for approved homeless encampments.

The proposal to create “sanctioned” encampments surfaced in an Oct. 6 presentation to the committee by a city 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. The Beachcomber plans to update developments on its website.

Bill Pearl publishes lbreport.com, a local, online news source since August 2000.

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