San Bernardino County to spend more than $72 million fighting homelessness

San Bernardino County to spend more than $72 million fighting homelessness
Photo by Matheus Ferrero / Unsplash

Homelessness Crisis

San Bernardino County in California has been grappling with a growing homelessness crisis for years, with the pandemic only exacerbating the situation.

But now, officials are taking action to address the issue by investing millions of dollars into housing for those who are at risk of homelessness or are already experiencing it.

The county plans to spend $72.7 million in federal, state, and local funds to tackle the homelessness problem.

The Board of Supervisors recently approved the county's Homeless Initiatives Spending Plan, which includes provisions aimed at increasing the supply of housing for at-risk groups or those already experiencing homelessness.

The funding will go to six initiatives:

  • Pacific Village Phase II Expansion: $29.7 million in state and federal funds
  • Kern Street Adult Residential Facility Expansion: $2.5 million in state funds
  • Project Roomkey Continuance: $4.4 million in federal and state funds
  • Social Work Action Group (SWAG): $3.4 million in federal funds
  • County Housing Development Grant: $20 million in county and federal funds
  • HOME-ARP: $12.7 million in federal funds

Six Initiatives: In Depth

One of the initiatives is the Pacific Village Phase II expansion in unincorporated San Bernardino, which will provide semi-private or private housing that can be tailored, when needed, to meet the needs of residents who require special behavioral health care.

The expansion will increase the number of people served by Pacific Village from 28 residents to about 726 people each year.

Another initiative is the Kern Street Adult Residential Facility expansion, which will convert an existing adult residential facility in Muscoy into a supervised 30-bed facility where people with chronic behavioral health care needs can receive assistance.

The county is also continuing to fund Project Roomkey, which temporarily turned hotel and motel rooms into housing for the homeless during the height of the pandemic.

The funding approved by the board will continue to provide funding for up to 90 beds through Project Roomkey, covering food, laundry services, and security while the county works to find permanent housing for the people using the program.

Additionally, the Social Work Action Group (SWAG) is connecting with homeless people on the street, guiding them to services and housing, and working in cooperation with a number of county programs.

SWAG has connected with 165 homeless people since December 2021, getting 63 of those people into shelters. The board voted to extend SWAG's contract for 24 months.

The County Housing Development Grant will be used to set up a program to distribute $20 million in grants to third parties, typical cities in the county, to support their homeless housing projects, emphasizing the building of new units.

The program is under development, and details of the program and possible adjustments to the budget will be coming before the Board of Supervisors in the future.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Home Investment Partnerships-American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP) program offers a one-time grant of $12.7 million to aid local residents facing homelessness, domestic violence, housing instability, or at risk of such situations.

The grant funds can be utilized for affordable rent programs, shelters, support services, rental assistance, and program administration expenses.

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Adopting a new plan

According to the 2022 point-in-time count, there were 3,333 homeless residents in San Bernardino County in February 2022, a jump of 208 people since the last count in January 2020. This increase highlights the urgency of the situation and the need for swift action to be taken.

The county adopted a new plan in June 2022 for lowering homelessness, including benchmarks to measure the success of individual efforts. This plan was put into action after the point-in-time count, which showed a 6.6% rise in the homeless population in the county.

Officials recognize that homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. While the county's Homeless Initiatives Spending Plan is a step in the right direction, more must be done to address the root causes of homelessness, such as affordable housing, mental health services, and job training programs.

The results of the 2023 point-in-time count, conducted in January, will be released later this year, and officials are hopeful that the measures they have taken will have a positive impact on the homelessness crisis in San Bernardino County.

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This article originally appeared in San Bernardino County to spend more than $72 million fighting homelessness

San Bernardino County to spend more than $72 million fighting homelessness
Officials want more housing for at-risk groups or those already experiencing homelessness.

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