April 13, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

San Bernardino County’s $72.7 Million Homeless Initiative: A Waste of Taxpayer Money or Crucial Step in Addressing on-going Crisis?

3 min read
San Bernardino County has been hit particularly hard by homelessness, with data showing that more than 2,000 individuals experienced homelessness in the county in 2022. This represents a 14% increase from the previous year, with the pandemic exacerbating the problem.

More than 40 percent of San Bernardino County’s unhoused population lay their heads in San Bernardino, with nearly two dozen of them living in tents at Meadowbrook Park.

San Bernardino County is taking a major step towards reducing homelessness in the region, with the Board of Supervisors approving a spending plan that will leverage $72.7 million in federal, state, and county resources to support the county’s 2022 Homeless Strategic Action Plan. The plan includes six strategic initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of homelessness and increasing the supply of housing opportunities for at-risk populations.

The Pacific Village Phase II expansion is one of the key initiatives, with $29.7 million allocated towards providing semi-private or private housing to individuals who require high levels of social and behavioral health support needed to accept and maintain housing. The Kern Street Adult Residential Facility expansion will convert an existing adult residential facility to a 30-bed facility that provides rooms, meals, supervision, distribution of medicine, and personal care assistance to individuals with chronic behavioral health issues.

Additionally, the Project Roomkey Continuance initiative will provide temporary housing support for 80 to 90 beds, while the Social Work Action Group (SWAG) will receive $3.4 million to perform street outreach, engagement, housing navigation, and case management services to homeless individuals and families.

“This will begin the necessary steps to increase much-needed capacity for the unsheltered population while providing the necessary services,” said Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr. “We look forward to our continued efforts on working with the community to meet the challenges of homelessness.”

San Bernardino County has been hit particularly hard by homelessness, with data showing that more than 2,000 individuals experienced homelessness in the county in 2022. This represents a 14% increase from the previous year, with the pandemic exacerbating the problem.

“Addressing the root causes of homelessness is the most effective means of reducing the numbers of people experiencing homelessness and providing a path forward for the individuals and the community at large,” said Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman.

The County Housing Development Grant initiative will see staff explore the development of a $20 million grant program that can be offered to third parties to support homeless housing projects with a focus on constructing new units that provide additional housing beds. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HOME-ARP Program has also allocated the county $12.7 million to assist with addressing the region’s housing needs and provision of homeless services.

“San Bernardino County is leading the way in addressing homelessness from a regional approach,” said Second District Supervisor Jesse Armendarez. “Today’s investment will create opportunities from housing and wrap-around services throughout our county and strengthen coordination with cities and nonprofit organizations.”

The spending plan has been welcomed by organizations working on the frontlines of homelessness in the county, who say the funding will go a long way towards addressing the crisis.

“We applaud the Board of Supervisors for their continued commitment to addressing homelessness in San Bernardino County,” said David Gillanders, CEO of Step Up on Second. “The initiatives approved will not only provide housing for the most vulnerable, but will also give them the support they need to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.”

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has taken a bold step in addressing homelessness in the region, leveraging $72.7 million in federal, state, and county resources towards six strategic initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and increasing the supply of housing opportunities for at-risk populations. With more than 2,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the county in 2022, the funding is a much-needed boost in the ongoing efforts to address the crisis.

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