$10-Million “Housing First” Plan Proposed to Combat Homelessness in the Coachella Valley

$10-Million “Housing First” Plan Proposed to Combat Homelessness in the Coachella Valley

Daytona Everett

Assemblymen Chad Mayes and Eduardo Garcia are partnering with Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, or CVAG, to request $10-million for homeless assistance from the state budget.

“Seventy percent would be allocated to a capital project in the west end of the Coachella Valley,” CVAG homelessness committee chair, Sabby Jonathon, said.

According to Jonathon, the first priority would be a form of shelter or housing with wrap-around services in the west valley.

“Thirty percent would be allocated to services throughout the Coachella Valley,” he said.

The multi-million-dollar request from the state budget would go towards a vision called “Housing First.”

“The first thing you do when you conduct outreach to a homeless person is offer them housing, once they have housing, you can provide wrap-around services and help them escape that cycle of homelessness,” Jonathon said.

An independent report shows in the first year of the Housing First program, 81 percent of the participants exited to a permanent destination.

Coachella Valley Rescue Mission director Tom Cox argues that on the day-to-day cases, Housing First isn’t always the answer. For example, hundreds of homeless residents living in an encampment in Indio were evicted this week.

Cox said about 23 of them showed up at CVRM’s doorstep. He said there’s a clear need for additional emergency shelters.

Palm Springs councilmember Geoff Kors said they’re working with the county to rebuild Roy’s, a former shelter that was closed down.

“People on the streets in triple digit weather is a humanitarian crisis, it’s a health crisis and it’s a real harm to our sheltered, as well as our unsheltered residents, as well as our businesses,” Kors said.

While some of the organizations disagree on aspects of the Housing First plan, everyone agrees that housing is the long-term goal.

“There’s a real passion for this here in the valley and we want to do everything we can to get people off the street and not just for a night but actually to break the cycle so they can get jobs and live the lives they actually want to live,” Kors said.

Governor Gavin Newsom hosted a roundtable on Tuesday in San Bernardino regarding homelessness in the state. The governors’ budget contains half a billion dollars for regions that build emergency shelters, navigation centers or supportive housing.

Councilman Kors said he fully intends to visit Newsom to represent the requests of the Coachella Valley.