Nevada County looks for homeless resource center stop gap
MORE IN THE SERIES
Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final part in a series of stories on homeless people and the agencies, organizations and resources available to assist them in western Nevada County.
While Nevada County officials continue to work to house homeless people, when it comes to their proposed homeless day center, they are yet to nail down a home of their own.
After purchasing the Old Tunnel Road property for the center in January, the county was denied Community Development Block Grant funding for the Glenbrook Basin’s planned homeless resource center earlier this year. But officials continue looking for more short- and long-term funding opportunities and an interim location to provide the resources the day center would eventually offer.
According to Nevada County Housing Director Mike Dent, the county is taking the approach of securing long-term funding to complete the resource center while using the Homeless Outreach and Medical Engagement team as a stop-gap to provide resources immediately and looking for near-term funding for an interim resource center they can lease while a permanent one is built.
“To build anything it’s a process; for a new building it’s a two- or three-year process,” Dent said. “What we’re looking to do is try to find something immediately in the next three months instead of the next three years.”
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According to Dent, when it comes to finding the right interim location, the challenges have been finding a site that is centrally located to homeless populations, is easily accessible and provides access to services nearby.
“We are still looking for a location. The county is working collaboratively with the Continuum of Care and our other community partners to identify a site,” Dent said. “We’ve gone through several potential locations. I’m very optimistic about our community and collaboration, that’s not the problem. The problem is just finding a place.”
In the meantime, Dent hopes the HOME team can provide resources for the county homeless population’s most urgent needs.
“Is this a permanent solution, having the HOME team act as a resource? Absolutely not.” Dent said. “The county is committed to looking for funding streams and locations to support a resource center. We’re continuing to work on short- and long-term funding.”
One hurdle to landing that funding has been recent changes to California’s Department of Housing and Community Development policies, which provide local agencies like Nevada County with funding opportunities such as the Community Development Block Grant the county was denied.
In 2017, the housing and community development agency began redesigning its programs after a study found California’s expenditure rate to be 51st among all states and Puerto Rico. The study also revealed excessively high unspent income balances and unnecessary administrative burden.
“Between 2011 and 2017, HCD awarded almost $281.0 million for CDBG activities.” the report stated. “Grantees have expended just under $115.0 million of these awards, leaving a total remaining balance of $120.4 million unspent in the line of credit at the U.S. Treasury.”
According to the report, a common reason for low expenditure rates has been that local agencies don’t begin preliminary planning and review steps before securing funding — and sometimes only find out their projects are not feasible once they are funded, leading to entire project overhauls. On the other hand, many local agencies cannot afford to start those initial planning phases without that funding.
With the primary goals of improving the expenditure rates and spending available program income in mind, the Housing and Community development department began prioritizing “shovel-ready” projects that are prepared to begin as soon as funding is disbursed.
“Last year we only needed 30% of architectural designs complete (to compete for funding); now Housing and Community Development has gone to over-the-counter processing of CDBG funding applications, with an emphasis on fully-vetted projects, meaning they want projects with actual loan documents instead of letters of commitment,” Dent said. “We’re not going to have that level of completeness on the project. We may be looking at applying for CBDG planning grants to fund the architectural elements, which could cost more than $100,000 alone.”
According to a September Board of Supervisors priority objectives report, Nevada County is trying to identify and prepare shovel-ready projects that will qualify for future Community Development Block Grant funding.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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