Bright and early on May 19, several 501(c)(3) nonprofits and partnering agencies rallied together to elevate the voices of homeless youth across the region.
On May 6th, numerous agencies received a letter from Assistant Executive Officer of San Bernardino County, CaSonya Thomas, explaining that promised funding to the 501c3 would be reduced to assist with the county’s response to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-32-20; which grants spending flexibility on COVID-19 homelessness-related efforts.
In total about $2 million of Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) funding would be taken back from duly contracted 501c3’s and agencies who provide essential services to homeless youth in the county.
“We’re here today to elevate our voices. On May 6, we received a letter from the county basically saying they were taking the money back, but the contract states that rescinding the funds should be in consultation with the 501c3,” said CEO of Family Assistance Program Darryl Evey.
“Several San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors had no idea that a letter was even sent to us 501c3’s. We recently reached out to the county board and we have yet to receive any phone calls back; maybe they’re hoping we stay silent and go away,” continued Evey.
At the rally, Family Assistance Program, A Time for Change Foundation, Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County, Mountain Homeless Coalition, Assemblymember Eloise Gomez-Reyes and Assemblymember James Ramos’s office were present in support of restoring approximately $2 million in homeless emergency funds.
“We as young people are deeply concerned and outraged by the County of San Bernardino’s plans to steal over $200,000 from our program. Money which directly allows for the housing of many youth between the ages of 18-24 who would otherwise be homeless. This action proposed by the county appears to the youth of this board that they do not care about the lives of our homeless young people,” said Levi Detherage, chair of the Family Assistance Program Youth Advisory Board.
“This decision takes away housing and takes food out of the mouths of the youth who are finally at a point of stability which allows them to contribute back to our communities. For some of our young people, this is the first time they have had safety and support in their housing,” concluded Detherage.
To comply with COVID-19 safety practices, face masks and hand sanitizers were provided to all rally participants; Detherage sanitized the microphone in-between each speaker.
“Given the shortened timeline of consideration for this measure, HEAP recipients have been unable to petition for these allocations to be properly reviewed. Providers have expressed concerns relating to both the severe impact to their ability to render necessary services and the means by which these funds are being reallocated. While responses to COVID-19 necessitate difficult and expedited decisions, programs that utilize HEAP funds are vital to our communities, and changes to these funds demand public participation commensurate with their impact,” said Assemblymember Ramos.
To make a public comment for the next County Board of Supervisors meeting, visit https://www.sbcounty.gov/cob/publiccomments/.