Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Jan. 18 @ 4:23 p.m.
Mission Possible Withdraws From Property Purchase, Is Seeking Other Options For Emergency Homeless Shelter
Del Norte Mission Possible is backing out of purchasing property at 1070 U.S. 101 for an emergency homeless shelter.
This decision comes after the nonprofit’s representatives received more information about the seller’s existing obligations to their tenants, Executive Director Charlaine Mazzei told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Thursday. It’s also due to community feedback opposing the location itself.
“We thought we were coming into a situation where the businesses were leaving already or were closed permanently,” Mazzei said.
Mission Possible leaders hadn’t realized that Sticky Grove’s lease was still in place and had been under the impression that Sally’s by the Sea was vacating the property by the end of 2023, Mazzei said.
“This was going to be an uphill battle to try to make this work,” she said. “We were going to have to be fighting the impression that we’re pushing out local businesses, that we’re not going to be a good neighbor and all of that.”
DNMP has spent roughly two years searching for a location to open an emergency homeless shelter. According to Mazzei, the nonprofit had looked at more than 38 different properties and had seriously considered three, but were unable to make a purchase.
Many of those 38 properties required coastal development permits from the California Coastal Commission, which, Mazzei said, would take too long. Mission Possible had considered another property with utilities provided through a well and septic system, but found that connection to the city water and sewer was needed.
Mission Possible is currently working with Del Norte County’s ad-hoc homelessness committee, which has established a subcommittee to find a suitable location for a shelter. Mazzei said Mission Possible is meeting with county representatives next week to present a proposal about the use of a piece of county property, though she didn’t want to “get ahead of the decision makers.”
On Dec. 12 following more than two hours of public testimony, the Board of Supervisors approved a transfer of about $10.8 million in state Encampment Resolution Funding grant dollars into the county budget.
Though those dollars will be used to pay for a pallet home village, staff to operate DNMP’s emergency shelter and a navigational center, many community members balked at the emergency shelter’s proposed location.
They also opposed the county’s proposal to establish the pallet home village at the old juvenile hall facility on Williams Drive in Crescent City across the street from 1070 U.S. 101.
During that Dec. 12 meeting Sally’s by the Sea owner Savanna Halliwell urged supervisors to reconsider the project’s proposed location.
“Finding a spot that is not at the gateway of town is more ideal for the longevity of the economy here,” Halliwell said. “There are so many vacant spots in Del Norte County. … I feel like the speed at which this process is moving has left a sour taste in the community’s mouth.”
Sticky Grove owner Robert Derego also told supervisors that while he closed the cannabis dispensary due to the Board setting a disadvantaged tax rate, he never quit on his lease.
“We invested into that property with shutters and security,” he said. “I’ve always sold stuff, usually for other people’s shops, and I’ve made decent money since I decided to do it for myself. I just decided I didn’t want to give it to the county.”
According to Mission Possible founder Daphne Cortese-Lambert, the graduated path out of homelessness that the graduated path out of homelessness she and other advocates proposed was similar to the model at Rogue Retreat’s Hope Village in Medford.
On Thursday, Mazzei said she and her Mission Possible colleagues visited Rogue Retreat on Jan. 12 with supervisors Dean Wilson and Joey Borges. Other local attendees included Crescent City Manager Eric Wier, Mayor Blake Inscore, Housing Authority Director Megan Miller and Del Norte Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal.
“It gave maybe a different people than some people had in their heads as to what shelter facilities look like,” she said, adding that Del Norte County attendees on that Rogue Retreat tour were surprised to hear the shelter manager say he had never seen a fight between clients in the four years he had worked there.
Mazzei noted that at Rogue Retreat, if clients don’t follow the rules, they’re exited from the program. That’s something she hopes to model in Del Norte County.
“What we’re trying to do is say, ‘OK, if you want access to this service, here’s a set of rules you have to follow,’” Mazzei said. “‘If you don’t follow them you’re going to be exited out of the program.’ People respect that.”
Mazzei urged the community to re-think what their impression of homeless services are. She noted that potential clients for the emergency shelter will be pre-screened before they’re admitted.
There will be case management and help for them accessing drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
Though it depends on the size of the building they’re able to find, Mazzei said the emergency shelter will consist of about 50 beds.
“They’ll have individual case plans,” she said. “It may be a goal as simple as let’s get you an ID. If you’re disabled, let’s start you working on [your] disability paperwork. They’re going to have an opportunity to reintegrate into following rules and behavior plans.”
According to last year’s Point-in-Time survey, 694 people in Del Norte County identified as homeless. In a news release Thursday, DNMP stated that of those 694 people, 70 percent of those surveyed had lived in Del Norte County for more than 10 years.