What We’re Doing About Homelessness in Salinas

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In the City of Salinas, the City Council has shown strong leadership by taking on an active role in advocating for implementation of best practices to end homelessness throughout the region. City funding has been directed to programs known to work such as street outreach, emergency shelter, homeless prevention, housing navigation, and rapid rehousing. In addition, City Council has approved millions in funding for affordable housing projects such as Moon Gate Plaza (88 affordable units of permanent supportive housing) and Hikari (49 affordable units of family housing). When the Salinas/Monterey and San Benito Counties Continuum of Care (CoC) Emergency Solutions Grant (State ESG) allocation administered through the California Housing and Community Development (HCD) was almost lost, City Council authorized staff to administer the grant program for San Benito and Monterey Counties. The City is the only Administrative Entity (AE) in the State administering State ESG funds. This has resulted in nearly $1.2 million of additional funding for homelessness services in San Benito and Monterey Counties over the last two years.

Over the past year, the City has stepped up even more to address homelessness. On October 9, 2018, City Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the County of Monterey (County) regarding the: 1) development and operation of a new homeless shelter at 855 East Laurel Drive, 2) development of permanent supportive housing at 1220 Natividad Road, and 3) continued operations of a temporary warming shelter at 111 West Alisal Street. Under the direction of Chief Frese, the Police Department appointed a new Homeless Outreach Team (Hot) Officer who is actively working with homeless in Chinatown. Public Works continues its diligent cleanup of encampment areas overrun with trash and other sanitation challenges in an effort to protect our waterways and ensure the safety of residents from diseases like Hepatitis A. In addition to these activities, multiple departments and divisions are allocating time and resources to coordinate efforts and funding to address homelessness. Whether it is the Fire Department extinguishing fires in encampments or the Library and Community Services Department hosting a homeless case manager at John Steinbeck, the City is actively coordinating our services across departments, meeting monthly to do so.  As we continue these efforts, staff has begun to discuss ways to accurately calculate our expenditures. Unfortunately, this is difficult to accomplish because many of our homeless services are integrated within larger departmental budgets. In 2017-2018, it is estimated that the City spent nearly $3 million on homeless services and housing. Of this amount, approximately $2.75 million came through grant funding. In 2018/2019, it is estimated that the City’s direct General Fund allocation on homeless activities is nearly $835,000. These expenditures do not account for the hundreds of hours of staff time allocated to addressing homelessness.