Homelessness

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

City of Eureka Halts Enforcement on New Camping Ordinance

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 5:40 PM

The city of Eureka has halted enforcement on a camping ordinance that was set to take effect tonight at midnight according to a release by the Legal Services of Northern California and Disability Rights California.

The Eureka City Council passed the ordinance on Nov. 17 prohibiting involuntary camping in most parts of Eureka including business districts and high-use trail areas.

The Legal Services of Northern California along with other local organizations like the Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives (AHHA) opposed the decision and believe that the ordinance "violates recent federal court decisions and despite the fact that the City has insufficient shelter space," and are urging the city council to "refrain from criminalizing homelessness."

According to the release, the Eureka City Council will reconsider the ordinance at its next meeting on Jan. 5.

Eureka City Attorney  Robert Black informed the Legal Services of Northern California that the ordinance won't be enforced, but reconsidered with minor modifications.

“Now, more than ever, the City needs to show up for its most vulnerable. Rather than putting its efforts toward circumventing the constitutional protections of homeless individuals, the City should focus on ensuring all its residents’
basic needs are met,” said Rebecca Smith, of Legal Services of Northern California. “We call on the City to seize this opportunity to reconsider its approach to homelessness in our community, and to commit itself to effective, evidence-based solutions to support Eureka residents who do not have shelter. The public health and safety of the community during this devastating time depends on the support of our leaders.”

Read the full press release below.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Eureka Council Passes New Camping Ordinance

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 at 10:43 AM

After nearly two hours of discussion, the Eureka City Council voted Tuesday to pass an ordinance repealing and replacing the city’s camping ordinance, with Councilmember Leslie Castellano dissenting.

The ordinance was altered to reflect public concern over perceived criminalization of homelessness, changing the recommended criminal charges for involuntary camping from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

According to city attorney Robert Black, the ordinance was drafted to replace the existing ordinance which had been rendered moot by the Martin vs. City of Boise decision.

“The city has been involved in litigation stemming from the Palco Marsh abatement,” Black said in his opening comments on the agenda item. “Litigation has largely dragged on. … One step in resolving that litigation is revising our camping ordinance and bringing it into compliance with federal law. [Martin v. Boise] basically said by basis of their status (homeless campers) cannot be criminalized by camping. We now have an ordinance that basically upholds that prohibition. This allows large areas of public space in the city to be available to people for whom there is no shelter space.”

The new ordinance prohibits involuntary camping in most parts of the city, specifically business districts and high-use trail areas. The Eureka Police Department and city councilmembers said they have received a large number of complaints from citizens and business owners about camping, litter and public safety.

But both Black and EPD Captain Brian Stephens say the new ordinance will most likely only be an enforcement tool to the extent it will allow officers to contact those who are camping in those areas and encourage them to seek services.

Stephens added that in practice EPD officers rarely contact people who are sleeping rough overnight, except in complaint-driven circumstances.

“The ordinance gives us the ability to legally maintain order, and address overall community needs and hopefully encourage these community members to seek out services and sheltered spaces,” Stephens wrote in a follow up email. “Those that do have a change of heart about accepting assistance is often because of the multiple contacts and the relationships that are built between members of our CSET and UPLIFT team and the community member. There are times and areas that the behavior is not acceptable and there needs to be balance and the ability for all our community members to freely utilize our public spaces.”

Previous coverage of this decision can be found here
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Monday, November 16, 2020

UPDATED: Eureka City Council to Consider Camping Ban

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 4:18 PM

No involuntary camping here. - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • No involuntary camping here.
The Eureka City Council will revisit the issue of camping within city limits tomorrow night as it considers Bill No. 989-C.S. - Camping Ordinance, a repeal and replacement of its current ordinance banning camping in public spaces. The adjustment appears to be in response to the 2019 Ninth Circuit Court case Martin vs. City of Boise, in which the court overturned that city's camping ordinance on the grounds that it "criminalized necessary human behavior; specifically, sleeping, sitting, and lying on public property when homelessness and lack of available shelter gives individuals no alternative."

The decision hinges on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits "the state from punishing an involuntary act or condition if it is the unavoidable consequence of one's status or being." In essence, Boise decriminalized "involuntary camping," which appears to be the exact behavior this ordinance — drafted by City Attorney Robert N. Black — now seeks to rein in.

The ordinance essentially restricts "involuntary camping" on public property that falls within specific business zones. Those zones, according to maps provided with the agenda item, include Old Town, Henderson Center, the Waterfront and the Bridge District — basically, most of Eureka.  It also precludes camping anywhere in city limits ". . . during the period from fifteen minutes after sunrise to fifteen minutes before sunset."

In an email to the Journal, Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said the new ordinance, if passed, “actually allows more legal camping options for ‘involuntary’ circumstances, allowances for 15 minutes before dusk to 15 minutes after dawn, while adding some exclusionary zones like Old Town but leaving much of the city open for involuntary situations (provided public vs. private property, non-obstruction of public ways and spaces, and the exclusionary zones.”

He also stated that EPD and the city have already adopted the practice of “outreach and services over enforcement where feasible.”

“We wouldn’t generally be enforcing, baring the listed exceptions and real need, during the night which is our current stance anyway,” Watson wrote. “We let people sleep at night if they aren’t causing other issues or dangers or trespassing.”


Other items on the agenda, which can be found here, include a renewal of funding for Betty Kwan Chinn's homeless village, an amendment of the Local Coastal Program to allow for  emergency shelters and the kick off of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is accessible via Zoom.
No involuntary camping here, either. - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • No involuntary camping here, either.
And not here. - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • And not here.
Nor here. - CITY OF EUREKA
  • City of Eureka
  • Nor here.
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Friday, October 16, 2020

The Yurok Tribe Receives $2.2 million Grant for Homelessness

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 4:44 PM

yurok_tribe.jpg
The Yurok Tribe received a $2.2 million grant from California's Homekey Program to address homelessness, the same grant St. Joseph Health received for its Providence Eureka housing project.

According to a release, the Yurok Indian Housing Authority will purchase a motel in Eureka for permanent housing for 30 people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 25 percent of units will be reserved for Native Americans and will provide housing no later than mid-December.

"Native Americans in Humboldt County represent the highest group/race of unsheltered persons in Humboldt County, and also face increased risk of COVID-19 complications," the release states.

The Homekey Program is California's $600 million effort to purchase and rehabilitate housing — including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties — and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness, who are at high risk for serious illness, and are impacted by COVID-19.

Read the full release below.

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced $30.7 million in the fifth round of Homekey awards — California’s nation-leading $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties – and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, who are at high risk for serious illness, and are impacted by COVID-19. (View press release)

The Yurok Tribe in Humboldt County receives $2.2 million in Homekey awards

The Yurok Indian Housing Authority will purchase a motel in Eureka for use as permanent housing for 30 people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Native Americans in Humboldt County represent the highest group/race of unsheltered persons in Humboldt County, and also face increased risk of COVID-19 complications. At least 25 percent of units will be reserved for Native Americans and will provide permanent housing no later than mid-December.
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Monday, September 28, 2020

Providence Eureka House Receives $4.3 million for Homeless Housing

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2020 at 5:32 PM

Visual design for the Providence Eureka House - ST. JOSEPH HEALTH
  • St. Joseph Health
  • Visual design for the Providence Eureka House
Gov. Gavin Newsom has allocated $137 million in Homekey Awards, $4.3 million of which will go to Humboldt County, states an email sent by a spokesperson for the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Homekey is California's $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties – and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, who are at high risk for serious illness and are impacted by COVID-19.

According to the state announcement, the funding will go to the Providence Eureka house, led by St. Joseph's Hospital, and aid in converting the Humboldt Inn on Fourth street into permanent homes and housing for people exiting hospitals who still need medical care.

The Providence Eureka House will allow 42 units to serve as permanent supportive housing, and 6 units to provide recuperative care services to
people experiencing homelessness who are exiting hospitals but still needing medical care. Providence Eureka House is a 48-unit permanent supportive housing motel conversion.

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Friday, September 18, 2020

St. Joe's Health to Offer Housing for Homeless Residents

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 11:13 AM

Visual design for the Providence Eureka House - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Visual design for the Providence Eureka House
St. Joseph's Health will house Humboldt County residents who are experiencing homelessness at the Providence Eureka House.

“We know that the first step towards improved health for those facing housing insecurity is a safe place to sleep,” said Roberta Luskin-Hawk, M.D., Chief Executive, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County. “Providence St. Joseph Health is privileged to be in a position to extend our healing mission to our community and provide the necessary resources to ensure those most at risk have access to the resources they need to lead a healthier life.”

The Providence Eureka House will sit on the current site of the Humboldt Inn on Fourth Street and will include 49 "independent dwelling units" that will house and provide resources to homeless individuals.

"Studies show that secure housing is critical to a community member’s overall health," the release states.

The project is possible through the “Housing is Health” initiative which represents Providence’s commitment to investing in the best practices of community partners, like Providence Supportive Housing and St. Joe's Health-Humboldt County CARE Network (leader of supportive services), who work on temporary and permanent housing in the communities they serve.

The county will be able to refer eligible homeless participants to the housing project from it's coordinated entry system. 

Read more about the project in the full press release below. 


Providence Eureka House: Transforming Lives and 101 Corridor

New Supportive Housing Project in Eureka will Enrich the Lives of Homeless
and Downtown Neighborhood

Eureka, CA (September 18, 2020) – As part of its continued commitment to community members, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County (SJH-HC) is excited to announce plans for a new supportive housing project that will serve homeless and chronically homeless individuals in Eureka.

Providence Eureka House will be developed on the current site of the Humboldt Inn, a commercial motel on 4th St. in Eureka. Plans include converting the existing 44-room facility into 49 independent dwelling units that will house and provide resources to homeless individuals. Studies show that secure housing is critical to community member’s overall health. St. Joseph Health’s decision to support the project aligns with their mission of serving all, especially those who are poor or vulnerable.

“We know that the first step towards improved health for those facing housing insecurity is a safe place to sleep,” said Roberta Luskin-Hawk, M.D., Chief Executive, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County. “Providence St. Joseph Health is privileged to be in a position to extend our healing mission to our community and provide the necessary resources to ensure those most at risk have access to the resources they need to lead a healthier life.”

The project is the result of the “Housing is Health” initiative which represents Providence’s commitment to investing in the best practices of community partners who work on temporary and permanent housing in the communities they serve. Other partners include Providence Supportive Housing (property manager), and the SJH-HC CARE Network (leader of supportive services). Humboldt County will act as an additional partner by referring eligible homeless participants to the project as units become available from its coordinated entry system.

As part of the project, Providence Supportive Housing will begin development of a minimum of 100 affordable housing units to celebrate the centennial of the founding of St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka in 1920.

“Reducing homelessness is about partnerships,” said Tim Zaricznyj, Executive Director, Providence Supportive Housing. “To make a lasting impact, non-profits, for-profits, governments, agencies, and health systems need to work together. Providence is privileged to work with amazing likeminded organizations in Humboldt County that are dedicated to giving highly vulnerable people a fresh start.”

The health system is making a $3.5M investment which is being supplemented by a grant from the Homekey program and is working to obtain additional grant funding. The Homekey grant program is the state’s response to protecting Californians experiencing homelessness who are a high risk for serious illness and are impacted by COVID-19.

A new 6,400 sq. ft. two-story wing will be added to the existing property to add common areas that will include: community rooms, service consultation rooms, security and management office spaces, storage areas, and a kitchen.

The site redesign aims to create a sense of place and community that is both secure and welcoming for residents, neighboring businesses, property owners, and visitors to Eureka. New and existing buildings will be woven together with a wood trellis, fence and screens that will provide privacy, security, warmth and visual continuity on all street frontages.


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Friday, June 19, 2020

Arcata’s 7 FEMA Trailers Still Unused

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 9:39 AM

When news broke that Gov. Gavin Newsom was providing seven trailers to the city of Arcata as part of a statewide program to shelter vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a win for the city. Most of the project's 1,309 trailers were headed for larger municipalities, but Arcata had presented a strong case for its population's need, and certainly every resource helps.

Seven of the 1,309 trailers procured by the state as part of its COVID-19 emergency response were dropped off in Arcata. None have been used. - HUMCO COVID FACEBOOK PAGE
  • HumCo Covid Facebook page
  • Seven of the 1,309 trailers procured by the state as part of its COVID-19 emergency response were dropped off in Arcata. None have been used.

The state had purchased the trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and delivered them to Arcata in early May. According to news reports, the city expected to move the trailers to more permanent locations within a few weeks, and was working with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services and Arcata House Partnership to select occupants.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Betty Chinn's Homeless Foundation Receives Grant to Care for Pets

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 1:02 PM

Betty Chinn - FILE
  • File
  • Betty Chinn
The Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation announced today that it has received a $200,000 grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Pet Assistance and Support Program to help house, feed and provide basic veterinary service to the pets of its clients.

Chinn, who spent much of her childhood living alone in a garbage dump during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution after her mother was jailed and her siblings sent off to labor camps due to her parents' wealth and Christian beliefs, has operated one of the few West Coast shelters to allow animals.

“Betty has long recognized the importance that some homeless individuals attach to their companion animals,” the release states. “Dogs provide emotional support, companionship, warmth and security to people living in the street. However, they also present a significant barrier to services because many shelters do not allow dogs, and this prevents some of the chronically homeless from accessing case management services geared toward regaining their self-sufficiency.”

Read the full release from the foundation below:

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Update: Eureka City Council Approved Allowing Betty Chinn to Open Temporary Homeless Shelter for Women and Families

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 at 1:09 PM

The Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center for the homeless. - FILE
  • File
  • The Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center for the homeless.

Update: The Eureka City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to add a retail building across the street from the Betty Kwan Chinn day center to its 2016 Shelter Crisis Declaration, paving the way for its conversion into a temporary shelter for women and families.

 

Before the shelter opens, the Betty Chinn Foundation must add another restroom and shower to the building. The foundation also has to change the entrance of the building to its C Street side, directly across the street from the foundation’s existing day center so as not to disturb other businesses on Seventh Street. 

 

Chinn says she has to talk to her partners about funding before starting the renovations, adding that as of right now she doesn’t have enough money to proceed with the renovations.  

 

Chinn and the city of Eureka are hoping the shelter opens next month, so families who impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can have a safe place to stay.  

 

Those in need of shelter can contact the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center at 407-3833.  

 

To make a donation to the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation, visit the website here to donate online or mail a check to Betty Chinn’s Homeless Fund, P.O. Box 736, Eureka, CA 95502.  



Previous: The Eureka City Council will consider adopting a resolution tomorrow that would expand the Shelter Crisis Declaration it enacted in 2016 to allow Betty Chinn to establish a temporary women and families shelter across the street from her day center at 205 Seventh St.


The retail building would be converted into a shelter to allow for “20 people in one bedroom assignments,” according to the staff report, and will be operated by the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation.


Betty Chinn told the Journal that there are quite a few people who have come to her center looking for shelter as they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have nowhere else to go. The new building, she said, would allow them to help people needing a place to stay.


“During this time, people need a safe place to stay, a safe place to be quarantined,” Chinn says. “I want to protect people as best as I can.”


Chinn says that her shelters take serious precautions when it comes to taking in new clients. She says that new residents for her shelters are quarantined for 14 days before they are able to roam the grounds freely, and that she also takes resident’s and staff’s temperature twice daily. If the new shelter is approved, she says she will be taking the same precautions there.


Clients would be able to stay in the shelter as long as they need to get back on their feet, she adds.


“The goal is for them to find permanent housing,” Chinn says. “So they will be able to stay for as long as they need to, to save money and learn to budget themselves for permanent housing.”


If approved by the council, the building will be converted “as soon as possible,” Chinn says adding that she hopes to open the shelter by May 1.


“[The building] is across the street from the day center so it will be easy,” she says. “If it doesn’t, I have to find a new building and new partners. I just hope this goes through.”


The Eureka City Council is also looking to adopt a COVID-19 Assistance Fund Grant Program that will allocate $50,000 in grants to Homeless Service Providers and $200,000 to support mortgage and rent assistance to households who are at 80 percent of area median income (those below 50 percent will be prioritized, the staff report states).


The Eureka City Council meeting will be held April 21, 2020, at 6 p.m. For more agenda items or to watch the virtual meeting remotely, visit the city website here.


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Monday, April 6, 2020

Eureka Mayor Talks Efforts to Protect Homeless Residents (VIDEO)

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 8:14 PM

Susan Seaman - CITY OF EUREKA
  • city of eureka
  • Susan Seaman
Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman has released a public service announcement updating the community on the city's efforts to care for its homeless residents amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Humboldt County. In it, she announces a number of new services and protocols, and says the Eureka Police Department recently gave 500 N95 masks, which are in tremendously short supply and high demand nationwide, to the Department of Health and Human Services for social workers aiding the local homeless population.

"By doing this, we are supporting our partners by protecting the health of their professionals working on the front lines with our homeless community and CSET team," Seaman said.

Watch the video or read a full transcript of Seaman's remarks copied below.


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