Homelessness

Thursday, February 21, 2019

PIT Count Finds Almost 1,500 People Without Shelter in Humboldt

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 3:11 PM

A homeless man in Eureka. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • A homeless man in Eureka.
Almost 1,500 people spent the night of Jan. 22 without shelter in Humboldt County, according to results of the Point in Time count released by the county Department of Health and Human Services.

The biennial count held Jan. 23 found that 1,473 people had experienced unsheltered homelessness the night before, more than double the number counted in 2017. That puts Humboldt County's rate of homeless people per 10,000 in population at about three times the state average of 34, according to U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development data.

The PIT count is part of a national effort to tally sheltered and unsheltered homeless people, as requirement by HUD. The numbers are then used to designate funding to help address homelessness and housing insecurity. On a single day in January, volunteers all over the U.S. head out to count and survey homeless people.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Arcata Council Advances Revised Village Housing Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 7:08 AM

AMCAL's David Moon addresses the Arcata City Council. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • AMCAL's David Moon addresses the Arcata City Council.
Arcata's The Village housing project is not dead, the City Council decided last night with a unanimous vote to reconsider the newly revised development proposal.

The project will go through three more review hearings before moving forward: one with the Arcata Planning Commission and two more with the council, including one focused on vacating St. Louis Road, said Arcata Community Development Director David Loya.

Developers presented their proposed 600-bed development to the council back in August but the council split, stalling the project.

Five months after the project appeared dead, the developer — AMCAL — reviewed and revised its plans to include an open market and to open half the apartments up to non-student community members. The revisions were publicly unveiled at an informal meeting Jan. 31 but locals still expressed concerns about impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, including parking, traffic and an influx of hundred of students. The housing project would sit on the 10-acre Craftsman Mall site on St. Louis Road, across U.S. Highway 101 from L.K. Wood Boulevard just north of campus.

AMCAL's David Moon told the council last night that the proposed 651-bed facility will dedicate half of its units to non-student residents and will include amenities like a gym and a childrens play area. It will also feature solar panels, a walking trail and car and bike sharing programs, he said. Moon was pleased to see the council move the revived project forward.

“I am very satisfied with tonight’s meeting,” Moon said. “I look forward to coming back.”
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

UPDATED: Encampment Removal Operation Near the Bayshore Mall

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 10:10 AM

EPD officers and other agencies at the scene. - PHOTO BY RYAN HUTSON
  • Photo by Ryan Hutson
  • EPD officers and other agencies at the scene.
Several agencies are “executing inspection/abatement and criminal search warrants” property near the Bayshore Mall, according to the Eureka Police Department.

The operation began at 8 a.m. and prompted the closure of the mall entrance at Bayshore Way, the EPD release states.

Blankets, clothes and shoes were hurriedly packed into gallon-sized garbage bags, as residents of the encampment began to leave this morning. Loaded trucks were driving in and out of Bayshore Way and residents helped each other throw away trash into an industrial garbage bin. An estimated 30 people living in the encampment were vacated from the private property.
The area behind the mall, known as the Devil’s Playground, was the site of a massive encampment that was cleared in May of 2016 in a major undertaking that saw more than 100 people removed from camp sites and more than 60 tons of trash collected. Read more here, here and here.
A scene from the May of 2016 eviction operation at the Devil's Playground. - FILE
  • File
  • A scene from the May of 2016 eviction operation at the Devil's Playground.


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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Volunteers Needed for Homeless Count

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 3:38 PM

A homeless man in Eureka. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • A homeless man in Eureka.
The Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition is seeking volunteers to participate in its biennial count of people experiencing homelessness locally.

The count is dependent on volunteer participation and tries to quantify the number of people living without shelter on a single night. The results of the count serve as the single best quantification of the local homeless population — data that is then used to qualify for funding and apply for grants.

“The more volunteers we have, the more people we can count, which will make more funding available to us,” Sally Hewitt, the senior program manager at the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services and co-chair of the Housing and Homeless Coalition, said in a press release.

Volunteers will gather in teams the morning of Jan. 23 in order to start counts in their assigned territories at 7:05 a.m. In addition to getting a head count, the volunteers will ask people where they slept the prior night and gather other demographic information.

Read the full press release copied below for more details and contact Robert Ward at 441-4035 or RWard@co.humboldt.ca.us to sign up. Read more Journal coverage of the point in time count here.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

CNN Names Betty Chinn 'Hero'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2018 at 2:50 PM


Eureka philanthropist Betty Chinn has been named “this week’s CNN hero.”

The network’s Heroes series is designed to “celebrate everyday people changing the world” and showcase “how one person can truly make a difference.” The network accepts nominations annually and showcases one hero weekly, one of whom will be named the network’s hero of the year in December.

Chinn, who spent years of her childhood homeless in China, has largely dedicated more than three decades of her life to serving and caring for Eureka’s homeless population. In collaboration with St. Vincent de Paul, she opened Eureka’s first public shower facility in 2009, and has since opened a day center aimed at caring for homeless youth and providing vocational counseling services for adults, a transitional housing project for 40 adults and a family shelter that also houses homeless people recently discharged from the hospital.

The CNN video highlighting Chinn’s work also features a quote from Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Director Connie Beck intoning that Chinn does more to provide services to a portion of Humboldt’s homeless than the entirety of county government.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Capital & Main Takes a Hard Look at Homelessness at HSU

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2018 at 4:02 PM

FILE
  • FILE
Capital & Main, an online nonprofit publication, published an article yesterday spotlighting housing insecurity for Humboldt State University Students. The article, which cites a Dec. 2016 article in the Journal by HSU Investigative Reporting students,  is part of a 10-day series exploring homelessness in California.

According to report released by the California State University system in January (and co-authored by HSU social work professor Jennifer Maguire), housing insecurity is rampant throughout the university system, with 11 percent of CSU students reporting having been homeless in the last year. As cited in the article, that problem is "most acute" at HSU, with nearly a fifth of the student body having been homeless at one point the previous year. (You can find a link to that report here.)
Chante Catt standing for her 2018 graduation. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Chante Catt standing for her 2018 graduation.

Reporter Gabriel Thompson interviewed off-campus housing liaison and founder of the Homeless Student Advocate Alliance, Chanté Marie Catt, who lived in a campground with her partner, small daughter and two dogs for her first few months attending HSU. They also interviewed Jasmine Bigham, a 23-year-old transfer student who is currently living out of her car in a HSU parking lot.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Partnership Health Awards Humboldt County $1.05 Million for Affordable Housing

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 10:21 AM

image003.jpg
Partnership HealthPlan of California, the region's MediCal administrator, announced this morning it has awarded the county $1.05 million in grant funding for supportive housing units. The nonprofit also granted the Redwood Community Action Agency $1.26 million.

According to the press release, Partnership awarded a total of $25 million in grants this week for "housing-related projects across the MediCal managed care plan’s 14-county service area."

“Without a roof over your head and a safe place to sleep, it’s difficult to stay healthy,” Liz Gibboney, CEO of PHC, says in the press release. “We decided to address this critical health-related issue right where it starts – by funding projects that address homelessness and the lack of housing for the most vulnerable populations in our communities.”

DHHS said in the press release that it plans to combine that funding with that of "a development partner" to build at least 30 affordable apartment units for "homeless or housing-insecure adults who are eligible for PHC."

Nancy Starck of DHHS confirmed that the county would be partnering with DanCo to build the permanent supportive housing units. A location has been identified but not confirmed by DanCo.

In a phone call, Margaret Kisliuk, a behavioral health administrator with Partnership, said that she had visited Humboldt County several times in her work, and noted a "Bay Area level of need" in terms of housing. The one-time grants came from Partnership's reserves.

"We certainly know that there are quite a few homeless folks in Humboldt County, and clearly a housing need," she said. "It seemed to be more intense in terms of Humboldt County."

Kisliuk said that the funding could also be used to renovate existing units.

We have reached out to RCAA for comment. It's not immediately clear what the grant awarded RCAA will fund.

Editor's note: This piece was updated from the previous version to include information from Starck and Kisliuk.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Board of Supervisors Declare Shelter Crisis

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 12:06 PM

A camp on the Eureka waterfront. - FILE
  • File
  • A camp on the Eureka waterfront.
Following more than a month of meetings and deliberation by an ad hoc committee and intense public comment on the issue, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to declare a shelter crisis and create a committee to explore housing trust funds and solutions to homelessness.

The decision, which came after over an hour of deliberation and public comment, was greeted with applause, although it's ultimate utility – as noted by First District Supervisor Rex Bohn  – is unclear.

"Eureka has had a declarations for two years and it hasn’t done much," Bohn said. "We can make all the declarations we want but we have to do something and work together."

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dying and Destitute

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 6:17 PM

Don Brown and Debora Bronson in their apartment. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Don Brown and Debora Bronson in their apartment.
Craig and Lisa Smith are running out of time. They’re dying. He has congestive heart failure and a cancer eating at his kidney. She has a severe respiratory illness and spends her nights plugged into an oxygen concentrator. But that’s not what they’re talking about today, sitting in the bed where they spend most of their lives these days in a cramped but tidy apartment at 833 H St. in Eureka.

A few days before, the city of Eureka had served the couple — and all other tenants of the long deteriorated apartment building owned by Floyd and Betty Squires — with a notice to vacate, telling them the city was condemning the property due to hazardous electrical wiring. Everyone has to be out by 6 a.m. Jan. 22. Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, tenants were given four business days to relocate their lives. For the Smiths, the eviction notice came three days after they’d paid the month’s rent. The Squireses haven’t returned subsequent phone calls, they say.

Nikki Lang sits on the corner of the bed. She’s a social worker with Resolution Care, the palliative care team set up by Dr. Michael Fratkin a few years back aimed at helping people live out their lives comfortably and on their own terms in the face of serious — often terminal — illness.

Lang tells the couple that the city will be giving them $1,600 in relocation assistance funds — money it will later look to recoup from the Squireses, adding yet another layer to the years-old legal battle between the notorious landlords and the city.

“How is that help?” Lisa Smith, 54, asks to no one in particular, eyes fixed on the bed in front of her. “Who is going to physically carry this stuff out? Where is it all going to go? We’re looking at the ends of our lives and it shouldn’t be like this. We worked for a living, raised families. We’re good people. We should just be left in peace.”


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Old Town Residents Prepare for Thanksgiving Sock Drive

Posted By on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 11:23 AM

Boxes of socks awaiting donation. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Boxes of socks awaiting donation.
Those in need of some extra warmth can pick up a pair of socks on Thanksgiving Day, thanks to the volunteers who have been accepting donations of warm apparel in preparation for the holiday.

"It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years," says Samantha Sweeney, who lives and works in Old Town. "It's a conscious refusal to take part in the stress of the holiday season."

Sweeney says that on her daily walks through Old Town she sees many homeless people exposed the winter weather.

"I myself have a family member on the street," she told the Journal.

So Sweeney hatched a plan to spend the day serving those in need. She collaborated with a friend and, within a week, the Old Town Community Sock Drive was underway. Sweeney posted notices for donations at several Old Town businesses and dropped off flyers advertising the event, which will begin at noon Thanksgiving Day at Clarke Plaza, the Rescue Mission, the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation and other locations.


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