Friday, January 20, 2017

Silent People in Black Protest on Arcata Plaza

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 2:32 PM

MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
Several dozen protesters joined the People in Black Inaugural Day Vigil on the Arcata Plaza this morning. They held signs or simply expressed their First Amendment rights with their silent presence as they gathered at the same time as the inauguration. Their goal was to share their concerns about and objections to the incoming administration.

Another, noisier, protest was held in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka, with protesters making speeches and knocking down a symbolic wall.

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People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza
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People in Black Vigil on Arcata Plaza

Mark Larson attended a silent Inauguration Day vigil on the Arcata Plaza.



By Mark Larson

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Elder Abuse Case Against Timber Ridge Yields $5 Million Verdict

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 3:18 PM

FROM TIMBER RIDGE'S WEBSITE
  • From Timber Ridge's website
Timber Ridge McKinleyville will pay the family of a woman who died under its care $5 million after a jury found the facility liable for wrongful death and elder abuse on Jan. 17. The amount includes $2.5 million in punitive damages.

The suit, brought by Valerie Monschke, a daughter of the resident, stems from an incident in September 2013 in which 90-year old woman, Marjorie Fitzpatrick, made her way into a courtyard and fell, breaking her wrist and nose and suffering a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage and intravicular hematoma (brain injuries). Fitzpatrick, a dementia patient, lay on the ground between 30 and 45 minutes before she was noticed and hospitalized. She died less than a month later.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Timothy Needham of Janssen Malloy LLP, charged that the facility was guilty of elder abuse because caregivers had failed to give Fitzpatrick her anti-anxiety medication the day of her fall, meaning she was manic and agitated. A manifest of the facility’s monitoring system show that Fitzpatrick was restless and tried to leave the facility several times that day, opening several doors to the outside. Despite this, staff did not notice that she had exited a door into the courtyard before falling, despite her exit triggering an alarm.

The jury backed up the plaintiff’s assertion that the facility should not have admitted Fitzpatrick in the first place as it did not have the proper staff or training to care for a patient with her level of dementia. The plaintiff also alleged that the facility did not properly assess Fitzpatrick before admitting her, and failed to properly monitor her to prevent falls, despite her having suffered one in July 2013.

In his closing arguments, Needham stated that the facility had broken its promises. The family paid $1200 for an assessment that wasn’t done, and paid around $5000 a month in rent, and Fitzpatrick’s care did not meet the standards of care promised by the facility.

“They said they were in need of more clients and therefore more money, by not doing the assessment they would be able to take on more clients,” Needham said.

The plaintiffs also alleged that Timber Ridge staff destroyed evidence in the case: shredding incident reports and statements, destroying a “pass down binder” or log, and taping over video that showed Fitzpatrick falling and lying injured on the ground.

He closed his statements by telling the jury that their verdict would be a referendum on “how the elderly will be treated in Humboldt County.”

The attorney for Timber Ridge, Rudy Nolen, said in his closing arguments that Needham’s assessment was “just wrong,” and that the facility was not responsible for providing nursing or medical care, although they have a nurse consultant available by phone. The caregivers, he said, had provided excellent care for the majority of Fitzpatrick’s stay in the dementia unit.

“For 455 days she was there, and 453 of those were uneventful,” he said.

He added that the case was complicated as there were two different burdens of proof using the same set of evidence, and the cost of damages as assessed by the plaintiff’s attorney were excessive.

“I don’t think there is any evidence of elder abuse in this case,” Nolen said repeatedly.

Reached today by phone, Needham said the verdict was sadly unusual in elder abuse cases.

“These cases are by definition extremely difficult to win,” he said. “You have to prove the case by clear and convincing evidence, and your best witness is deceased or has dementia. In this instance, you have an occasion where the defendants have made a concerted effort to destroy anything that would prove your case.”

Needham added that in many elder care facilities staff are very minimally trained.

“There’s less oversight in these facilities than there is to open a barbershop,” he said. “Only 1 in 10 cases of elder abuse are ever reported and less than 1 in 100 go to trial. It’s a damned shame.”

Erin Wohlfiel, director of marketing and creative development at Timber Ridge, sent the Journal the following statement:

"The death of any resident, for any reason, saddens us deeply. In this case, we acknowledge that mistakes were made, however inadvertently, and we will always regret that. We have learned from these mistakes and taken steps to prevent their recurrence."

She added:

"We have never had any other incident of this severity in our 17-year-history, and most Humboldt County residents know of our stellar reputation for compassionate and highly competent care. "

Wohlfiel could not comment on the accusations that employees had destroyed evidence in the case. She said the terms of the payment and whether the case will be appealed will be determined by the facility's insurance company.

In her obituary, Fitzpatrick is described as a very active member of her community, an Arcata resident since 1951 who volunteered with the United Way, served on the board of the Humboldt Area Foundation, the Redwoods United Foundation and on the advisory board of the California Criminal Justice Association. She also chaired the committee that created the cookbook A Taste of Humboldt, the proceeds of which went towards setting up a scholarship for member of the Youth Education Services fund at Humboldt State University. According to Needham, at least part of the settlement will be donated to the Humboldt Area Foundation to continue her legacy, the Marjorie Fitzpatrick Cookbook Scholarship Fund.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UPDATE: Eureka Council Passes Human Rights Resolution

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:32 PM

Kim Bergel - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • Kim Bergel
UPDATED:

The Eureka City Council passed a broadly worded resolution last night that delineated the city’s goals and attitudes towards minority groups, women, immigrants and the environment. The Human Rights, Inclusiveness, Environmental Sustainability, Affordable Health Care, and Religious Freedom Resolution, which was brought to the council by City Councilmember Kim Bergel on Dec. 13, only generated a single public comment, in which a member of the public asked that its language be changed to be more inclusive.

Debate between the councilmembers was also brief, with Bergel saying that the resolution “sets an intention for how we will move forward.”

The language in the resolution was augmented at the suggestion of Councilmembers Heidi Messner and Natalie Arroyo, with the words “men and women” changed to “people,” “man” changed to “human” and “girls” changed to “youth.” The phrase LGBTQ was amended to LGBTQIA to include the intersex and asexual population. Bergel acknowledged that the resolution, seen by some as a referendum on the Trump platform, was not strictly enforceable but “a goal, not a plan.”

Messner raised the initial concerns about the language of the resolution, calling it “outdated,” and Arroyo added she thought it important to make the resolution as inclusive as possible.

“I wasn’t sure it was necessary,” she said, referring to the resolution. “But today I saw a Nazi flag flying in a nearby community … and I came to the meeting believing it was very necessary.”

Marian Brady, the lone dissenting vote after Austin Allison seconded the motion, said she felt the resolution used “fluffy language” to obscure its point and that future generations wouldn’t understand the intent.

“The problem I find with this whole resolution it that it’s full of innuendo,” said Brady. “It’s talking about all the ugliness but none of the positive stuff. It’s full of innuendo. We know who we’re talking about. Just say Trump. What’s the point of this?”

Bergel replied that she and Brady would have to “agree to disagree” and the point of the resolution was about treating people with respect.

“I think if you read history you’ll be able to figure it out,” said Bergel, responding to Brady’s suggestion that its importance and meaning wouldn’t be clear in the future.

The council did vote unanimously to extend the city’s parklet program, following a presentation by community development director Rob Holmlund on its parking impacts and community response.

“It’s a great way to make our city more appealing,” said Allison.


Previously:


Tuesday the Eureka City Council will consider adopting a strongly worded resolution that delineates city attitudes toward the rights of immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, people of all faiths and the environment.

While never mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name, the resolution, as proposed by Councilmember Kim Bergel on Dec. 13, seems a clear referendum on his campaign and agenda. Other cities, including San Francisco and Arcata, have passed resolutions or made proclamations since Trump's election declaring implicit opposition to his policies, but this would be a historically unprecedented decision for the city of Eureka.

The resolution, titled the "Human Rights, Inclusiveness, Environmental Sustainability, Affordable Health Care, and Religious Freedom Resolution," was moved to the agenda in December by council consensus.

The resolution, copied in its entirety below, says the city will support women "on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted." It declares opposition to conversion therapy. It says "climate change is real." It says "affordable, universal healthcare should be a continuing priority."

The Journal could not reach Bergel for comment, but we did reach out to the city for clarification on another item, which she also brought up on Dec. 13.

"One and a half years ago we had talked about giving the island back to the tribe, and I was hoping we could have an update on that," she said, referencing the proposed return of 60 acres of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe, which tribal chairs requested in 2015. The city resolved last April to return the land, but no apparent further action has been taken. City Clerk Pam Powell said the matter will be discussed in a future meeting, but not next week.

Among other items to be discussed on Jan. 17 are an extension of the city parklets program, rezoning of a parcel near the Eureka Mall, and a presentation by the Parks and Recreation Department on the opening of the Waterfront Trail.

The proposed resolution:


RESOLUTION NO. 2017 - RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUSIVENESS, ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE, AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

WHEREAS, in light of the current climate in our country and the negativity and hate that is being fostered;

and WHEREAS, Eureka will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who bring such richness to our city. We will continue to build bridges, not walls;

and WHEREAS, we will never back down on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted. And just as important, we will ensure our young girls grow up with role models who show them they can be or do anything;

and WHEREAS, that there will be no conversion therapy, no withdrawal of rights in Eureka. And to all the LGBTQ people in our city and all over the country who feel scared, bullied, or alone: You matter. You are seen; you are loved,

WHEREAS, that we still believe in this nation’s founding principle of religious freedom. We do not ban people for their faith. And the only lists we keep are on invitations to come pray together;

and WHEREAS, the Eureka Police Department is committed to building trust between police and communities of color so all citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods;

and WHEREAS, our residents are committed to environmental sustainability, and that climate change is real, and that clean power, zero waste, and other measures to protect future generations are a priority;

and WHEREAS, affordable, universal healthcare should be a continuing priority for the State of California and the United States.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Eureka, condemns all hate crimes and hate speech we will fight discrimination and recklessness in all its forms. We place the highest value on human rights. Further Resolved, that this resolution be forwarded to Senators Feinstein, Harris, and Representative Huffman to demonstrate our City’s commitment to fairness and inclusion.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

King's Day

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 5:36 PM

A crowd stretching several blocks marched through Eureka with the Eureka branch of the NAACP and the Eureka Police Department in honor of Martin Luther King Day. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • A crowd stretching several blocks marched through Eureka with the Eureka branch of the NAACP and the Eureka Police Department in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

On Monday, Jan. 17, a crowd stretching several blocks made its way through Eureka from Eureka Police Headquarters to the Adorni Center in honor of Martin Luther King Day. The march, organized jointly by the Eureka chapter of the NAACP and the Eureka Police Department, filled Third Street with signs and songs. The march ended at the annual celebration for the slain Civil Rights Movement leader put on by the Eureka NAACP. There, speakers including Eureka Chapter NAACP President Liz Smith, master of ceremonies Lorna Bryant and NAACP Chaplain Wallace Boveland. See the slideshow below for photographer Mark McKenna's images of the events.
A table full of people enjoying a meal prepared by volunteers and staff from Arcata Elementary at the Bowl of Beans Benefit on Monday, Jan. 16. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • A table full of people enjoying a meal prepared by volunteers and staff from Arcata Elementary at the Bowl of Beans Benefit on Monday, Jan. 16.
There were more celebrations at the Arcata Community Center that evening, where the annual Bowl of Beans Benefit paid tribute to King with stories, gospel music, dance performances and a community feast of beans and rice. Humboldt State University Housing and the African American Center for Academic Excellence held an Annual Day of Service, with participants volunteering at the Potowat garden in support of local tribes. More events are planned for the coming week, including listening and discussing King's speeches, a community gathering and a spoken word competitions for students.

Slideshow
MLK Day 2017
MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017 MLK Day 2017

MLK Day 2017

By Mark McKenna

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Who's Whooo in Ferndale

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:36 PM

A screenshot from the new OwlCam. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • A screenshot from the new OwlCam.
The Ferndale Music Company and the Old Steeple, housed in a historic church at the corner of Bluff and Berding streets in Ferndale, have collaborated with Ferndale Tech to bring you a unique view of the town and some of its flightier residents.

The "Owl Cam," which can be accessed using this link, offers a panoramic view of the town from the building's bell tower, which is 50 feet high. It also gives lookie-loos a glimpse into the lives of the bell tower's barn owls, generations of which have made their home in the church since 1902, according to the Old Steeple's press release.

From The Old Steeple:


 Welcome to the top of Ferndale! Ferndale Music Company and The Old Steeple, in collaboration with Ferndale Tech, bring you a view previously only for the birds with the new “Owl Cam,” a panoramic webcam with infrared light situated 50 feet up in their historic building’s bell tower.

Generations of Barn Owls have called the steeple home since its 1902 construction. Tune in at night to glimpse the current family swooping in with their latest catch or preparing the nest for owlet season (March-August). During the day, explore vistas of the Eel River Valley, from waves breaking on Centerville Beach to the sun rising over the Victorian Village.

Check out the “Owl Cam” at FerndaleOwlCam.com.

Ferndale Music Company and The Old Steeple are located at 246 Berding Street (next to the cemetery) and are open from noon to 5pm Monday-Saturday. For more info, call 786-7030 or visit ferndalemusiccompany.com.



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With the Flu Season Here, There's Still Time to Vaccinate

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 1:46 PM

Public health officials say there's still time to get a flu shot. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Public health officials say there's still time to get a flu shot.
There’s good and bad news about this year’s flu season. The bad news: It’s here. The good news: The current shot is a close match to the strain that is striking the county — meaning better protection against the flu — and there’s still time to get one, according to public health officials.

Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services public health nurse Eric Gordon said there have been 13 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Humboldt County as well as anecdotal evidence indicating a respiratory illness is definitely going around. That includes, he said, a spike in emergency room visits for people exhibiting flu-like symptoms over the last few weeks and a corresponding uptick in the sale of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine.

With the vaccine taking about two weeks to become effective and flu season just getting under way: “Now is the time to get the flu shot,” according to Gordon.

“The sooner you can do it, the better,” he said.

Public health agencies recommend the annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.

The latest statistics from the California Department of Public Health show there have been nine laboratory-confirmed, influenza-related deaths in individuals under age 65 in the state this flu season: which started in October and runs until May.

None of the deaths were in Humboldt County.

Gordon said the influenza virus is generally broken down into two categories: stain A — which make you sicker — and strain B. Strain A was confirmed in the two local laboratory cases.

How bad will this season get? Gordon said it’s too soon to tell.

“We are just really heading into it, so we’ll basically see where we are at in another month or so,” he said.

Gordon said flu shots are available at local pharmacies, the county's Public Health Clinic and through individual medical providers.

Beyond getting vaccinated, public health officials also offer the usual common sense advice:

•Stay home when you are sick.

•Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue.

• Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

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The Return of the California Condor

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Yurok Wildlife Program biologist Tiana Williams releases a condor in Big Sur. - COURTESY OF THE YUROK TRIBE
  • Courtesy of the Yurok Tribe
  • Yurok Wildlife Program biologist Tiana Williams releases a condor in Big Sur.
The Yurok Tribe led a major effort to restore a bird that hasn’t been seen on the North Coast for over a century. The Tribe teamed up with a number of agencies, including PG&E, The National Park Service, U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries and the National Park Foundation to restore the California condor population.

“The condor has played a major part in Yurok ceremonies and culture since time immemorial,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., chairman of the Yurok Tribe, in a press release. “It is through collaborative projects like this that we will bring balance back to our natural world.”

The condors will be released into the Yurok ancestral territory located in Redwood National Park. “The park staff at Redwood National and State Parks is excited to work alongside the Yurok Tribe and our park neighbors to eventually return the iconic California condor to its historic range along the North Coast,” said Steven Prokop, Redwood National Park superintendent, in a press release.

The National Park Service is seeking public comments on Jan. 24, at the Wharfinger building, in Eureka. This public meeting will be one of five held in order to listen to public comment on the restoration project.


Continue reading »

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

HumBug: No Bugs Today

Posted By on Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 3:00 PM

A red headed sapsucker inspecting a pepperwood for bugs in my yard. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A red headed sapsucker inspecting a pepperwood for bugs in my yard.

Last week, for the first time in several hundred excursions along the Van Duzen River spanning over 20 years, I saw no bugs. Only the sad remnants of a few abandoned spider webs and a bit of residual leaf damage testified to their existence. Despite a lifetime of experience at picking out tiny critters and a bit of effort, the cold and rainy weather had pushed them all into dormancy and hiding.
A robin taking a worm in my front yard. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A robin taking a worm in my front yard.
There were however, a great many birds looking for bugs as if their lives depended on it. That's because they do. Insects, spiders and other creepy crawlers are the basic food group for many birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians.
A bluegill (photographed this summer) feeds mostly on aquatic insects. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A bluegill (photographed this summer) feeds mostly on aquatic insects.
Because they are a place in the biosphere where proteins and other essential nutrients are concentrated, species like swallows and bats are adapted to be strictly insectivorous and many more take supplemental bugs as a part of a balanced diet. Hummingbirds take small flying insects and collect spider silk to line their nests.
An adult swallow going out for another order of regurgitated bug for the kids. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • An adult swallow going out for another order of regurgitated bug for the kids.
No matter the weather I always see something marvelous in the woods.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SoHum Locals, former HSU Students Make Prestigious Forbes List

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 5:07 PM

FORBES MAGAZINE
  • Forbes Magazine
Three Humboldt State University students, two of whom grew up in Southern Humboldt, were recently featured in Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 list for their entrepreneurial success in the manufacturing and industry sector.

Mike Radenbaugh, Tyler Collins and Marimar White-Espin cofounded Rad Power Bikes, an electric bike company headquartered in Seattle. The design for the bikes began in 2007 when Radenbaugh, then a student at Southfork High School, was struggling to get to class.

"It was pretty much out of necessity," said Collins. "The school bus didn’t go out to where he lived and the car was always breaking down. He pretty much taught himself everything he needed to know about electric bikes and started making them."

Collins, who grew up in Piercy, had known Radenbaugh since kindergarten; the two became roommates by chance at HSU. They and White-Espin became friends and began making electric bikes as a "passion project" as they finished their degrees, seizing every excuse to redirect class assignments into the bikes. They continued work on the bikes after graduating and going their separate ways, with Collins, a journalism major, working briefly in public relations in San Francisco.

In late 2014, the trio decided to transition from making custom bikes as a side job into embracing the work as a full-time career. They set up a production line and began manufacturing four different kinds of bikes, building what Collins calls a "sizable customer base."

A few months ago they were contacted by Forbes Magazine with the news they had made the first round of judging for the list of what Forbes calls the "brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers." They didn't hear anything else for several weeks but on Jan. 3 the news came in: They had made it.

"After hitting refresh on the page for the 5,000th time, we found out with the rest of the world," said Collins. There may have been some jumping up and down.

Collins said it was a "pretty big moment" and that the list was "a pretty good club to be in," but most of all they hope their story can inspire other young people, especially in Southern Humboldt.

"That’s one of the big things we were trying to get out of being named to this list, is some positive influence to the youth," said Collins.

Editor's Note: This article has corrected to reflect the information that Collins and Radenbaugh have known each other since childhood.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Homeless Count Postponed

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 3:47 PM

A camp in one of Humboldt County's greenbelts. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp in one of Humboldt County's greenbelts.
This year’s biennial Point-in-Time count will be postponed one month in order to recruit more volunteers to assist the homeless count.

The count, scheduled to take place at the end of January, will be pushed back to the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

Every year the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to take count of people living in emergency shelter or transitional housing. The last count, conducted in 2015, found 1,319 people to be homeless in Humboldt County, up 265 from two years prior.

This year, volunteers will receive required training from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to assist in the count. Volunteers will be asked to go to areas throughout the local communities where homeless people are known to be and take a headcount.

Sally Hewitt, senior program manager and co-chair of the Humboldt and Homeless Coalition, said pushing the date back will give organizers time to recruit more volunteers, including Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods students.

“Participating in the count is also a great opportunity for students looking to volunteer and get some experience doing outreach to the homeless community,” Hewitt said in a press release.

The information gathered during the count will go to local planners and nonprofit agencies in order to receive grant funding. At the end of the year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will award agencies a total of $822,933 in homeless assist funds for 2017.

The Arcata House Partnership will act as a volunteer hub in assisting this years Point-in-Count. Darlene Spoor, Executive Director of Arcata House Partnership, said the date was pushed back in order to create a better survey and help volunteers become better prepared.

For more information about the Point-in-Time homeless count, or if you are interesting in volunteering, contact Wendy Choate, secretary at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, at 441-5520.


See the full DHHS press release copied below:

Volunteers still needed for Point-in-Time count


This year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count has been postponed by one month as recruitment for volunteers continues. Originally scheduled for the end of January, the PIT count will now take place in the early-morning hours of Feb. 28.

“Pushing the date back gives us time to recruit more volunteers, including students from Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods who have been very helpful with the counts in years past,” said Sally Hewitt, DHHS senior program manager and co-chair of the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC). “Participating in the count is also a great opportunity for students looking to volunteer and get some experience doing outreach to the homeless community.”

Volunteers attend training so they’re ready to assist in the biennial count, which is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Information gathered during the count is used by local planners and nonprofit agencies in applications for grant funding.

At the end of the year, HUD awarded participating HHHC agencies a total of $822,933 in homeless assistance funds for use in 2017.
For more information about the PIT or to volunteer, contact DHHS Secretary Wendy Choate at 707-441-5520. Information is also available at the HHHC’s website humboldthousing.org.






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