Homelessness

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

EPD Identifies Man Found in Mall Fire, Deems Death Accidental

Posted By on Wed, Jan 3, 2024 at 4:02 PM

The Eureka Police Department has identified the man whose remains were found burned in a small fire near the Bayshore Mall in October and determined his death was likely accidental.

EPD used a witness account and DNA results to identify the man as Richard George Shannon, 27. According to the department, its investigation revealed Shannon had been using fentanyl near a small warming fire the evening of Oct. 23 and was "exhibiting signs of an overdose." A subsequent autopsy, EPD's press release states, found fentanyl in his system.

"It appears the warming fire Shannon had built spread and ignited a fiberglass truck canopy that he was using as a makeshift shelter," the release states. "It is suspected that Shannon was unconscious or suffering from a drug overdose and was unable to extract himself from the shelter or the fire."

No signs of foul play were found in the investigation, EPD states.

Read the full press release here.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Parking Lot Protection Initiative Submits Signatures to Qualify for March Ballot

Posted By on Tue, Aug 29, 2023 at 11:46 AM

A local initiative effort seeks to effectively block Eureka's plans to convert municipal parking lots into affordable housing. - PHOTO BY THADEUS GREENSON
  • Photo by Thadeus Greenson
  • A local initiative effort seeks to effectively block Eureka's plans to convert municipal parking lots into affordable housing.
Proponents of an initiative that would effectively block the city of Eureka's plans to convert municipal downtown parking into multi-family housing have collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for the March ballot, they announced in a press release.

The release says that Mike Munson, one of the leaders of the so-called "City of Eureka Housing for All and Downtown Vitality Initiative" effort, turned in petitions with 2,811 signatures to the city clerk's office, significantly more than the 1,600 valid registered voter signatures required to move the effort forward. If the county registrar of voters verifies the requisite number of signatures are valid, the initiative will go before the Eureka City Council, which can decide to put the matter before voters in March, enact the initiative outright or ask planning staff to compile a report on its impacts within 30 days.

While the initiative is being cast as an effort to bring "housing for all," its ability to add housing stock to the city is hypothetical, at best.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Cal Poly Humboldt Scales Back Hotel Housing Plans as School Year Approaches

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2023 at 2:20 PM

PHOTO BY MARK A. LARSON
  • Photo by Mark A. Larson
Both excitement and concern about a potential explosion in Cal Poly Humboldt’s enrollment due to its new status as the state’s third polytechnic university seem to have been premature.

While the university excitedly announced in November that freshman applications were up 86 percent over the prior year, then set a wave of panic across campus in February when it cited "unprecedented growth" when informing all returning students they would have to live off campus this fall, it now appears enrollment growth will be modest at best, meaning the campus and community will avoid the feared housing crunch, at least for now.

Through spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth, the university declined to give the Journal specific enrollment and housing numbers to date, saying they won’t be final until September (instruction, meanwhile, begins Aug. 21). Sharing current enrollment and housing numbers — even while noting they are preliminary — “would be misleading without context.”

“The university is on track for enrollment growth this fall, progressing toward the Polytechnic Prospectus target of total enrollment growth of 8 percent to 15 percent increase in new students,” Scott-Goforth wrote the Journal, noting that total enrollment in fall of 2022 was 5,858 and the university is “predicting enrollment to be between 6,000 and 6,400” to start this school year, including both undergraduate and graduate students, which would equate to a 2.4 percent to 8.5 percent increase over last year.

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Monday, May 1, 2023

California’s Next Housing Crackdown Could Force Cities to Plan More Homeless Shelters

Posted By on Mon, May 1, 2023 at 4:53 PM

All over California, cities are falling far short when it comes to providing enough shelter for their homeless communities. 

More than 69,000 homeless residents live in Los Angeles County, for instance, but that county has just over 21,000 beds in shelters and temporary housing programs.

It’s a similar story in Sacramento County, which counted nearly 9,300 unhoused residents in its last census, but has just over 3,000 shelter and temporary housing beds. 

Those massive gaps – which ensure thousands of people remain homeless – are visible in cities throughout California. But despite constant reassurances from Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers that getting people off the street is a top priority, there’s no state requirement for cities and counties to make sure they have enough shelters or housing for homeless residents. 

A bill working its way through the Legislature could change that, and potentially lead to sanctions against local governments that fail to plan for the needs of homeless Californians. 

Senate Bill 7 would — for the first time — require cities and counties to plan enough beds for everyone living without a place to call home. It would go beyond just temporary shelter, also including permanent housing placements.

Its author, Sen. Catherine Blakespear, a Democrat from Encinitas, called it a “transformational idea” that could help move the needle on homelessness where other attempts have failed.

“Everything we’re doing currently, it will result in homelessness growing,” Blakespear said in an interview. “It will not result in homelessness going down.”

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Lawmakers Want to Know Why Billions in Spending isn't Reducing Homelessness

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2023 at 2:01 PM

A camp on the Eureka waterfront. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp on the Eureka waterfront.

The state has spent billions of dollars on homelessness in recent years. So why is the crisis getting worse instead of better?

That’s what a bipartisan group of California legislators is trying to get to the bottom of by calling for a first-of-its kind, large-scale audit of the state’s homelessness spending.

The state has stepped up its involvement and investment in the crisis under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s leadership, allocating $20.6 billion toward housing and homelessness since 2018-19, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. But despite the influx of cash, during that time, the number of unhoused people in the state has increased by nearly a third — to more than 170,000 as of last year

That discrepancy between what’s being spent in Sacramento and what voters see — tent cities in their neighborhoods — has many legislators clamoring for an accounting. They have instructed the state auditor to embark on a sweeping project that will analyze multiple state homelessness programs — as well as focus on homelessness spending in two cities — in an attempt to improve California’s response.

“What we’re doing is not working,” said Assemblymember Josh Hoover, a Republican from Folsom who co-authored the audit request with Democratic Sen. Dave Cortese of Santa Clara County. “And I think it’s important to get to the bottom of that and figure out where are we investing that is not getting a return on investment. And we need to stop spending money on the programs that are not working.”



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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Eureka Announced Partnership to Open Extreme Weather Shelter

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2023 at 4:53 PM

The city of Eureka is partnering with the area’s faith-based community to open an Extreme Weather Overnight Warming Center at the Lifehouse Church in Myrtletown in cases of significant events, which could include high winds, freezing temperatures or pervasive rain.

According to a news release, the city’s UPLIFT Eureka program, the Eureka Police Department’s Community Safety Engagement Team and members of Crisis Alternative Response of Eureka will conduct community outreach to help directly connect individuals to the warming center.

When the center is opened — from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. — it will be staffed by “members of the faith-based community, and supported by UPLIFT Eureka, CARE, and EPD CSET personnel,“ the release states.

“I’d like to not only thank the Lifehouse Church, but all of our faith-based community as we have received offers of assistance from other churches and look forward to working with them to continue supporting those most vulnerable within our community,” Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery said in the release.

Lifehouse Church Senior Pastor Willy Bowles said when he was approached about hosting the warming center, his immediate response was to say yes, knowing there would still be a lot of logistics to be worked out — including finances, receiving approval from the church board and finding volunteers.

“Opening up our building to be a safe place for men, women, and children to come in times of severe weather is a no-brainer,” he states in the release. “Nobody should ever freeze to death in Humboldt County. That is simply not acceptable. We are excited to be able to do something practical and hands-on. Opening our doors for people to sleep in a safe, warm environment will make a difference in people's lives. If this isn't the work of Jesus, then I don't know anything that is.”


Find the full release below:

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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Eureka to Host "Encampment, Tiny House Workshop'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2023 at 2:11 PM

authorized_encampment_and_tiny_house_workshop.png
The city of Eureka announced this afternoon it will host a workshop next week to “describe and discuss” the process and requirements to established an authorized homeless encampment sheltering people in tents or tiny homes within the city.

The Feb. 28 workshop will feature presentations from city staff and the county of Humboldt about their emergency shelter ordinances and conditions of approval to create a temporary shelter space with either tents or tiny homes. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at Eureka City Hall, 531 K St., and start at 5:30 p.m. After the presentations, attendees will have an opportunity to weigh in and ask questions.

Humboldt County and Eureka are home to one of the largest per capita unsheltered homeless population in the state. The city declared a shelter crisis in 2016 and the county followed suit in 2018.

See the full press release from the city here.
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Thursday, February 16, 2023

California Homelessness: Where are the State’s Billions Going? Here’s the New, Best Answer

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2023 at 2:26 PM

A camp on the Eureka waterfront. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp on the Eureka waterfront.
In Sacramento, there’s a word that keeps popping up during discussions about the state’s homelessness crisis: “accountability.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has scolded cities and counties for failing to get more people off the street, hundreds of millions in state spending notwithstanding. “Californians demand accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” the governor said last November.

Republicans in the Legislature have called for an audit of the state’s homelessness spending. Democrats are still absorbing the last one from 2021, but many want to see the state’s money come with strings attached. This week, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, an Arleta Democrat, introduced a bill that would demand “tangible results” from local governments before they receive homelessness grants — mirroring an idea from the governor’s own budget proposal.

The increasingly bipartisan chorus points to two stark, seemingly contradictory trends: The state keeps spending more to address the crisis, and the crisis keeps getting worse. So where, they ask, is all the money going?

On Wednesday, California lawmakers got something that resembles an answer. 

The state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, a state body tasked with overseeing the state’s homelessness strategy and divvying up funding to local governments, issued a report detailing just how much the state has spent on the crisis between 2018 and 2021 — and what it’s gotten in return.



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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

‘Forcing the Hand’: Gavin Newsom Leans into Legislative Agenda as First Terms Nears End

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2022 at 12:49 PM

Gavin Newsom - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Gavin Newsom
As California’s legislative session comes to an end tonight, the priorities and focus of the closing days have been heavily shaped by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who in the final year of his first term has taken significant steps to execute his agenda through legislation like never before.

His first three years in office saw Newsom frequently pursue policy through executive orders or in the state budget process, a negotiation with the Legislature that provided him with greater leverage.

But the governor’s biggest priority this year has arguably been the passage of a sweeping proposal, known as CARE Court, to compel people with serious mental health issues into treatment and housing. And in recent weeks, he asked lawmakers to take up ambitious new climate and energy measures, including one that would delay the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant.

A half dozen bills Newsom has sought were sent to his desk this week or await final approval before the Legislature gavels down tonight. They include some of the most complex and contentious issues that remain.



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Monday, August 15, 2022

Suspense File: Which Bills did California Lawmakers Kill?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2022 at 2:27 PM

The state Capitol building. - CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
  • California State Assembly
  • The state Capitol building.
On most days, California lawmakers deliberate, debate and decide bills out in public for every Californian to see.

Aug. 11 was not one of those days.

In simultaneous marathon hearings, the appropriations committees in the Assembly and Senate rattled through hundreds of bills in a single discharge of rapid-fire legislating. Many proposals lived to see another day. Among them: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal for new courts to compel more homeless individuals to seek mental health and substance abuse treatment, and bills to strictly limit the use of solitary confinement in California jails and prisons, allow for the composting of human remains and increase family leave payments for lower-wage workers, though it wouldn’t take effect until 2024.

But many other closely-watched bills came to an unceremonious end, killed in one of Sacramento’s most opaque lawmaking processes. They included a Republican-backed bill that would have capped copays for insulin, a California Medical Association-backed proposal making it easier for doctors to approve procedures and prescriptions without first getting permission from an insurance company, and a bill to allow prosecutors to go after social media companies for knowingly addicting children.

It’s called the suspense file. For months, the appropriations committees, tasked with assessing the fiscal impact of any bill outside the annual budget, gather any legislation with more than a negligible price tag and put it to the side. Then twice a year, after legislative leaders decide which bills live and which die behind closed doors, they announce the results in a single hearing. In most cases, no public votes are taken and no debates are held.



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