Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 @ 5:19 p.m. / Community, Homelessness, Local Government

Housing Tools Analysis Identifies Potential Models for Permanent Supportive Housing in Del Norte

Administrative analyst Toni Self highlighted three possibilities for permanent supportive housing models that may help Del Norte County address its homelessness challenges.

Presenting the findings of a state-funded analysis drafted by Chico-based consultant Housing Tools, Self told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that a community-driven and managed coalition will need to discuss how to go about developing such a program.

This coalition could include partnerships with local nonprofits and members of the community. Self said it should also include those who are experiencing homelessness.

“From the information that was gathered as a result of our public outreach, the community wants to be at the table in regards to what’s happening in the homeless community,” she said. “This coalition could help with collaboration, help with accountability, help with the shared vision as well as community engagement.”

The Housing Tools analysis was funded with $75,000 in No Place Like Home dollars. Signed into law in 2016, No Place Like Home is a bond initiative that seeks to house those who are chronically mentally ill and chronically homeless. It can only be used for brick and mortar programs, according to Board of Supervisors chairwoman Lori Cowan.

On Tuesday, Cowan and her colleagues unanimously accepted Housing Tools’ analysis and directed staff to form a homelessness coalition. Supervisors also directed staff to begin preparing request for proposals to seek a developer interested in establishing a permanent supportive housing program in Del Norte County.

Before she gave a breakdown of the different programs Housing Tools identified as potentials for Del Norte County, Self said bringing them to reality would require further research.

The first model Self spoke of was an 80-unit facility for about $24 million. Under this model, 14 units would be available to chronically homeless individuals through the No Place Like Home program. The remaining units would be rented to extremely low income and low income individuals and families.

The second permanent supportive housing model Self highlighted also includes new construction. This entire 30-unit facility would be dedicated to those in need of permanent supportive housing. There would be 14 studios, 15 one-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom apartment for an on-site manager, Self said.

The project would use project-based vouchers from the local housing authority to subsidize low rents. According to Self, this model would cost about $7.4 million.

The third model Self touched on would also consist entirely of permanent supportive housing units. This would be a rehabilitated property that would house 10 studios and would cost about $1.3 million, Self said.

Priority would be made to homeless individuals with disabilities, Self said. It would also include more case management and wrap-around services that are more intensive than other models, she said.

In its analysis, Housing Tools also vetted 14 sites in Del Norte County that are potentially viable for a permanent supportive housing program.

The three Self mentioned include property near Del Norte’s juvenile hall on Williams Drive. Housing Tools indicated that its location, affordability and status as already belonging to the county were factors in this property’s favor, Self said.

A second property at Washington Boulevard and U.S. 101 across the street from Walmart has its close proximity to Sutter Coast walk-in clinic, Sutter Coast Hospital and public transportation in its favor.

A third, at Northcrest Drive and Washington Boulevard near Open Door Clinic offers the opportunity to use an existing commercial property. Self said the site is listed for sale and would involve converting commercial space to residential units. Due to the size of the building, however, it would be more suitable for a smaller program, she said.

According to Self, most of the permanent supportive housing models do require tax credits. She said $500,000 in competitive No Place Like Home dollars has been allocated to Del Norte County and is available to a developer as a deferred payment loan.

Self said the state made this money available on Sept. 30, but until Del Norte County finds a development, it’s not ready to see, that funding.

Other funding sources for a permanent supportive housing program in Del Norte County include $490,000 allocated to the county Department of Health and Human Services from Partnership Health Plan, which provides MediCal services to local residents, according to Self. Approximately $418,000 in state Mental Health Services Act dollars has also been set aside for Del Norte County, she said.

“This is pretty much just a snapshot of what could happen,” Self said. “The projects could be based on what the (developer) wants to build and what works best for the development company.”

Self’s presentation on Housing Tools’ analysis comes amid a larger community conversation on homelessness. On Monday, Medford-based Rogue Retreat presented its Hope Village transitional housing program to the Crescent City Council.

On Sept. 18, county supervisors and the Crescent City Council voted to support an amicus brief to bring Martin v. Boise before the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Cowan said Housing Tools’ analysis is a first step to find a developer who will take on loans and create something that would work for Del Norte County.

“It’s really important to talk about it,” she said. “It’s completely different versus some of our other conversations and work we’re doing around temporary shelters, which is happening as well.”


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