Monterey County hopes to reduce homelessness by 50% over the next five years
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting formally adopted a five-year plan to reduce homelessness in Monterey and San Benito counties.
The five-year plan that was presented during the meeting is meant to update and rewrite the previous 10-Year Lead Me Home Plan by ensuring, among other things, that it was informed by local data and integrated input from local stakeholders.
“Coming on to the board this year, the issue of homelessness was something that definitely rose to the top of my priorities,” Supervisor Wendy Root Askew said. “The need for our community to do more, to acknowledge the crisis that exists for those that are currently unsheltered.”
A lofty goal of the plan is to reduce homelessness in the region by 50% over the next five years. In 2019, the Place in Time homelessness count found that there were 2,422 people experiencing homelessness in the county.
“We know that solving homelessness can’t be done all overnight," Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo said. "We wanted to really focus on some real goals that we can show the community that we’ve achieved some benchmarks and milestones.”
Here are the three strategies set in the plan:
- Increase Participation in Homelessness Solutions by Leaders and Key Stakeholders from Across the Region
- Adopt five-year plan
- Invest strategically by developing a data informed regional investment strategy and report annually on the results of investments
- Build political will for affordable housing
- Include people with lived experience of homelessness
- Engage new partners not currently on the Leadership Council or Continuum of Care
- Center equity by identifying and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the homelessness response system
- Improve the Performance of the Homelessness Response System
- Prevent homelessness by adopting problem solving and targeted prevention strategies
- Enrich and expand mobile outreach services
- Provide low barrier shelter
- Expand housing solutions
- Support people to retain housing
- Embrace housing first
- Implement performance measurement and continuous quality improvement
- Expand Service-Oriented Responses to Unsheltered Homelessness
- Provide services and support to encampments
- Build collaborative relationships with people in encampments
- Provide safe, temporary locations for people to stay
- Connect unsheltered people to housing
Six input sessions were held to achieve these goals. The plan was developed by the following entities:
- Lead Me Home Leadership Council of Monterey and San Benito Counties
- Coalition of Homeless Services Providers
- Monterey County Department of Social Services
- Monterey County Health Department
- County of San Benito Health and Human Services Department
- The City of Salinas
During public comment, it became clear that for some, the presentation and plan was not enough.
"I really enjoy the hopeful attitude and the way we’re doing everything right now,” said Wes White with the Salinas Monterey County Homeless Union. “It sounds so wonderfully cheery, but in a large regard, I give this county an F for the first year of their five year plan to end homelessness”
The concern with some locals, which White shared, was regarding the removal of people experiencing homelessness during clean-ups.
The clean-ups in Salinas, known as "sweeps" to many who oppose the process and to those experiencing homelessness, have a controversial history. Due to the pandemic, clean-ups had stopped from March to October 2020. Clean-ups are back and have taken place at targeted locations throughout the city.
Elected officials and city and county staff are hoping that by building relationships with the people living in the encampments, tensions over sweeps will decrease in time.
The priority populations for this plan are people experiencing chronic homelessness, youth and young adults up to age 24, people who are undocumented and people re-entering the community from the criminal justice system.
State Senator John Laird was also in attendance at the meeting.
“One thing that’s been an issue for localities has been that some of the state money has been for a fixed time and people need to invest it and know that there’s certainty for future years,” Laird said. “I want to continue to work with you on that.”
Angelica Cabral is a journalist and podcaster for The Californian covering a wide variety of topics from movies filmed in Monterey County to how much political candidates have fundraised. Have a tip for an interesting story? Email her at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @avcabral97