Please note in an earlier version of the article it was reported that all of the county’s homeless were going to be housed at Glen Helen Regional Park to be evaluated – that is in fact not true. Please refer to http://iecn.com/san-bernardino-countys-effort-to-shelter-homeless-underway/ to read about the county’s efforts to shelter the homeless in order to protect the community at-large during the COVID-19 crisis.
At the end of the San Bernardino City Council meeting webcast on April 1, tensions were heightened when discussing forthcoming plans to house homeless in the city during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Mayor John Valdivia shared with the other council members that he just had a phone discussion with County of San Bernardino Supervisor Josie Gonzales.
“I expressed my concerns and apprehension regarding what I have been hearing through the community about housing the homeless in a hotel on Hospitality Lane. I clearly told her the city of San Bernardino would fight that opportunity. We want to work with the county to find an alternate space to house our homeless,” said Valdivia.
Valdivia shared that Gonzales was understanding of his concerns and he suggested the county include more of a representative outreach to all nearby cities, to have an opportunity to provide at least one space to provide their own homeless.
“Supervisor Gonzales said the plan is to bring forth a contract to bring 20 trailers to Glen Helen Regional Park. At the park there are 20 utility hookups and the intention is to triage the county’s homeless for COVID-19 to stem off any growing concerns within the homeless population,” continued Valdivia.
Currently, there are only two cities projected to serve as housing spaces during the COVID-19 public health crisis – San Bernardino and Victorville.
“I do not support the County of San Bernardino’s proposed plan. We have been treated very badly enough for so many years. We need to stand up and say absolutely ‘no.’ We will work with them and assist them in building something out in the desert. We are not having it come into our city, we have enough of it here,” expressed Councilmember Fred Shorett.
All San Bernardino councilmembers supported one another in refuting the county’s proposed plan to house all of the homeless during the global pandemic.
“I agree with everyone. We are not the dumping-ground, we are not the Homeless City of San Bernardino…that has nothing to do with the economic future of San Bernardino. There are a lot of conversations that need to take place regarding what we are going to do about OUR homeless population,” said Councilmember Bessine Richard.
Richard shared that members of the Interagency Council on Homelessness have recently secured $2.5 million to assist the homeless; and that more San Bernardino stakeholders need to get involved to discuss the needs of the homeless population in the community and beyond.
“The simple question is…is this relative to COVID-19 or is this a homeless issue? I think the county is using this as an excuse and an opportunity,” concluded Shorett.
City Manager Teri Ledoux was contacted on April 6 for an update on the city’s collaboration with the county regarding this issue, no response was given at the time of print.
For more information, visit http://www.ci.san-bernardino.ca.us/.