Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, Feb. 13 @ 3:50 p.m. / Community, Homelessness

Del Norte Supervisors Support Housing Mission Possible's Homeless Shelter Alongside Pallet Home Village

This conceptual design shows the Williams Drive location of the planned pallet home village above with the emergency shelter below. The red is a security fence, Del Norte Mission Possible representative Charlaine Mazzei said. | Screenshot


Mission Possible Withdraws From Property Purchase, Is Seeking Other Options For Emergency Homeless Shelter

Public Wary of Del Norte's $10.8M Grant-Funded Multifaceted Plan to Combat Homelessness; Mission Possible Founder Promises Town Halls as Project Progresses


Elected officials on Tuesday backed a proposal from Del Norte Mission Possible to house an emergency homeless shelter with the pallet home village and wraparound services on county-owned property at Williams Drive in Crescent City.

Even District 4 Supervisor Joey Borges supported the comprehensive plan to combat homelessness. Admitting he was “the biggest opponent for all of this,” he said he changed his mind after a January tour of Rogue Retreat, a Medford-based nonprofit whose Hope Village is serving as a model for Del Norte County’s project.

“I do believe this will provide a clear pathway, steps, for people who want the help and can progress,” he said Tuesday. “Is it going to clear the swamps? No, but I don’t believe that’s what it’s intended for.”

Borges was referring to the $10.8 million Encampment Resolution Funding grant Del Norte County received in November. On Dec. 12, Borges cast the sole opposing vote to transferring the money to the general fund after more than two hours of public testimony from proponents and opponents of the project.

On Tuesday, Del Norte Mission Possible representatives Charlaine Mazzei and Daphne Cortese-Lambert proposed using a Sprung building for the 60-bed emergency shelter. The nonprofit had looked at 38 different properties for about two to three years to find a suitable location for a shelter, including some that weren’t for sale.

Last month Mission Possible backed out of purchasing property at 1070 U.S. 101 after receiving more information about the seller’s existing obligations to their tenants as well as community feedback opposing the location.

“We came back to the ad-hoc committee subcommittee and said we need help to figure out where to put the congregate shelter,” Mazzei told supervisors. “The proposal to co-locate it on an already-approved site where we’ll put the pallet homes is what came out of those conversations with the subcommittee and the ad-hoc committee and all of our partners.”

Mazzei said she and Cortese-Lambert had discussed the proposal with Del Norte County Sheriff Garrett Scott, Crescent City and Del Norte County representatives, the Crescent City Police Department and Del Norte County probation.

Mazzei pointed out that the Williams Drive property is owned by the county, so it wouldn’t take private property off the tax roles. It’s also hidden from U.S. 101, she said.

“I worked in the vicinity for several years and never knew what was on the other side of the mental health building,” she said.

Del Norte County created its homelessness ad-hoc committee in December 2022. The committee consisted of two county supervisors and representatives from the city, the county, True North Organizing Network, Del Norte Mission Possible, faith-based organizations and the Del Norte Healthcare District.

Committee members outlined its plans to place a micro village on the Williams Drive site with ERF dollars in February 2023. Del Norte Mission Possible will support operations of the project.

According to Health and Human Services Director Ranell Brown, half of the county’s ERF grant must be spent by June 30, 2025. The entire grant must be spent by June 30, 2026.

In addition to the 60-bed emergency shelter, the county plans to build a 50-unit micro village using pallet homes. There will be kitchen and bathroom facilities; a community area; a storage, laundry, garden and pet area on-site staff and supportive services as well as training and technical assistance for personnel, Brown said.

The DHHS director also listed several statistics she said showed that crime rates drop near pallet home shelters. In Vancouver, Wash. police visits within 500 feet of their pallet home village decreased by 30 percent. In Los Angeles County, areas within a quarter mile of pallet home villages reported a 25 percent decrease in crime. And in Denver, crime dropped by about 3 percent around its pallet home village, according to Brown.

“Pallet shelters are cost effective, rapid to deploy and install and have the capacity to serve people displaced by chronic homelessness,” she said.

She noted that Chico, Santa Clara County, Redding and Redondo Beach have pallet home programs that have led to permanent housing for their clients.

Brown also gave an estimated cost breakdown. Start-up and site development is expected to cost about $3 million. Personnel — staff to operate the shelter and micro village — is expected to cost $3.5 million.

Operating costs will cost an estimated $1.3 million and client support services, including transportation, food services, personal expenses, landlord and rental subsidies and client incentives will cost an estimated $2.4 million, Brown said.

Administrative costs are expected to be $515,415.

“We haven’t made the large purchases yet. We’ve gathered quotes for the pallet shelters, kitchens and bathrooms,” Brown said. “And we have subrecipient agreements we plan to bring back before the Board for approval soon.”

Del Norte County and Del Norte Mission Possible are also receiving technical assistance from Arcata House Partnership and Rogue Retreat, Brown said.

According to Cortese-Lambert, the individuals that will be admitted to the emergency shelter will be screened using peer support staff who will reach out to those living in homeless encampments. Those peer support staff will bring clients to Mission Possible’s off-site navigation center on Elk Valley Road to begin the application process.

Once they’re admitted to the emergency shelter, the client will not be allowed visitors. The Williams Drive shelter and pallet home village will be fenced. There will be a strict policy against loitering as well as security cameras and off-site security staff.

“Everyone will have a case plan and part of that intake procedure is to let people know we’re going to be very respectful of our neighbors because you love what we’re doing here and being safe,” Cortese-Lambert said. “Let’s help you be a part of staying safe. That’s how we’ve kept the women’s transitional home safe, the navigation center safe — it’s just giving people ownership over those things.”

According to Mazzei, Del Norte Mission Possible has contracts with Partnership Health Plan, which administers Medi-Cal benefits locally and will provide post-recuperative beds for those needing ongoing medical care.

Mazzei said she and Cortese-Lambert have spoken with officials at Sutter Coast Hospital about contracting with them to provide beds for those needing to recuperate. This will allow Mission Possible to avoid putting folks up at local motel rooms.

Clients who have jobs will also be asked to pay a participant fee, Mazzei said. There is also an opportunity for social enterprises such as culinary training and catering services operating out of the facility’s kitchen.

Mazzei also said Del Norte Mission Possible has a dedicated donor base including one person who funds the organization’s outreach and housing efforts to the tune of $30,000 a year.

Following Del Norte Mission Possible’s presentation, Borges said Mazzei and Cortese-Lambert “clarified a lot of things.” He said he wished they had given their presentation before he and his colleagues voted on the budget transfer in December.

“People’s minds went wild — we’re just throwing away $10.8 million with no idea where it’s going,” he said. “In the future, allow us to see it beforehand. I have a completely different idea of what the vision is and I think a lot of people would have seen it differently.”


© 2024 Lost Coast Communications Contact: