Public officials, community leaders hear report on homelessness


RED BLUFF, Calif. - Five months after convening for the first time, a group of local citizens, officials, business owners and community leaders presented the findings of their Stakeholders' Report Monday night at a Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The housing and homeless issues meeting included a presentation of research and findings relating to the effectiveness of current programs and the need for a unified approach between civic groups and government.

Developing a unified plan, one that includes freeing up funds to create a HUD-approved homelessness focus, is one of the important concepts presented to supervisors, as well as city officials from Red Bluff, Corning and Tehama. Several of the community leaders encouraged their elected officials to commit to supporting the stakeholders' ideas.

"And you will have people who are very loud and very persistent and who are saying, 'we love this idea, we think that housing, we think that services are great, but this is not the right place and this is not the right time,'" said Scott Camp, senior pastor of Bridgewater Community Church. "And what I must say to you is you must have the courage to withstand that."

With goals including a community-wide commitment to end homelessness, access to programs for individuals and families in need as well as optimizing opportunities for self-sufficiency among the homeless, the group put forward four objectives in the roughly hour-long presentation.

Their first proposed objective is to increase affordable housing units, available for more or all residents. The second, to increase availability of emergency and short-term housing and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Third is to create a one-stop for day services providing links to resources, services and assistance to getting back on track. Their fourth objective presented was to increase awareness about homelessness in Tehama County.

One citizen addressed officials with the promise to donate an 8-acre plot of property near Corning to be used as a one-stop location, if local governments can get on board together.

"It's subdivided, and I'm ready as soon as you're ready," said Tehama County resident Malinda Shotwell. "To make it a one-stop, if we can. Whatever we can do. I'm ready to work with you guys, so let's go."

The presentation included statistics from national and local sources regarding short and long-term approaches to homelessness and housing, specifically considering those in Tehama County.

"Just imagine you're homeless," said Ken Rieders of the PATH Coalition. " All of a sudden you have no place to sleep, and that's your destiny for the foreseeable future. It's a pretty scary place to be and to get somebody out of that, it's gonna be very difficult."

The research indicated that, while many of the organizations currently are doing good work serving the community, they are doing it without public or local government assistance. Improving access to programs, available interim, short-term and long-term housing are key ingredients to success which they say will be difficult to accomplish without a HUD-approved plan and the resource avenues it could create.

For more information on the plan, an audio link to the meeting is available at the Tehama County government website.