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ARCH REVEALS LOSS OF HOMELESS NAVIGATION CENTER LOCATION
Homeless Committee Recap, November 7, 2023
Homeless Committee meetings contain valuable information on how the City is working to assist unhoused residents. The Committee consists of all five Planning Commission members and two community members: Andrea Keller and Veno Nathraj. Homeless Committee meetings are embedded inside of Planning Commission meetings to avoid a Brown Act violation due to the involvement of majority of the Commissioners. And because Council has not given direction to record committee meetings, the camera recording Planning Commission meeting is cut off once the Homeless Committee meeting begins.
Planned Navigation Center loses location
In a setback for ARCH1 and City homeless services, the location for the planned Navigation Center2 has fallen through. On September 19, City Council had approved one year of expenses, approximately $32,000, to support renting the boarded-up building located at the corner of Adobe Rd. and Hwy 62. Per the San Bernardino County Assessor website, the property is listed as being owned by Marcelle Vinsone.
When ARCH President Astrid Johnson presented the project to Council, it appeared that talks with the owner were preliminary as ARCH had not yet accessed the building. At that time rent was quoted at $960 per month with a $2800 deposit and $1200 a month in projected utilities.
Per ARCH, primary objectives include:
Addressing the immediate needs of Twentynine Palms’ underserved, underrepresented homeless population
Strengthening homeless prevention methods
Advocating for the development of affordable housing units
The Center will also provide extreme weather programs and food programs working toward a Whole Person Care Approach.
According to homeless advocate Jen DeFalco, the meeting with the owners was not successful:
…upon going there, the owners seemed very wary about it being a heating center, leaning more toward an office building, which is totally not what it was supposed to be. And then, when they saw Councilman Scott there, automatically the sign that said “for lease” came down out of the window and the sign “for sale” came up. And then she wanted $300,000 for that property, talking to Councilman Scott.
ARCH has not found another Twentynine Palms location that is within the budget approved by Council.
Mobile showers moving forward, slowly
On August 22, City Council approved $15,000 to fund a portable shower facility managed by Shadow Mountain Community Church. At that time, several issues, including maintenance, supplies and insurance costs as well as water disposal remained unresolved.
Additionally, at the August 8 Council meeting, Johnson had advocated that the showers should anchor additional services similar to those proposed at the Navigation Center:
We have a lot of homeless that actually are quite skilled. They just simply need a hand up on getting showers like we're talking about with the shower trailer. Getting good nutrition, getting fresh clothes and then getting matched up with available jobs here in the area.
Per Community Development Director Keith Gardner, the challenge has been writing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing the agreement between the City and Shadow Mountain, “The City hasn’t done anything like this before so it’s a little tricky on our part. And of course it needs to be approved by legal before it moves forward.” Gardner added that he hoped to get the MOU to legal in the next day or two so “it’ll take a while.”
Inventory of potential homeless services
In mid-October Community Development Director Gardner shared early drafts of two spreadsheets he is using to collect information: one is for currently available homeless resources, the other is a matrix of potential solutions. It is hoped that the resources will find their way onto the City website. Gardner welcomes input from the community on services to add to the list: email@example.com.
Overview of preventative measures and permanent solutions
The meeting concluded with a presentation on preventative measures and permanent solutions for homelessness in Twentynine Palms by Committee Member Andrea Keller. Keller has graciously agreed to adapt her presentation for The Desert Trumpet, and we hope to publish it this weekend.
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