Nevada County leaders say cooperation is necessary to solve homelessness |

Nevada County leaders say cooperation is necessary to solve homelessness

Nevada County leaders intend to pursue discussions on area homelessness, continuing a community conversation spurred after a recent town hall forum on the issue.

Grass Valley Mayor Jason Fouyer has met with Jennifer Ray, his Nevada City counterpart, and Board of Supervisors Chairman Ed Scofield. Another meeting with more officials is in the works, though it hasn’t been scheduled.

Fouyer said the group needs to answer some basic questions.

“What are the next steps going to be?” Fouyer asked. “We’re different from Nevada City and Nevada City’s different from the county.”

According to Fouyer, the two mayors and Scofield have agreed to work together. However, Fouyer said solving homelessness takes more than elected officials. Elected leaders and nonprofit organizations must now partner together on a common goal.

But how does everyone achieve the goal of eradicating homelessness?

“I think the main thing we’re trying to do is get on the same page, coordinate our efforts, and have an approach that is hopefully effective,” Ray said.

Those serving the homeless must know more about them before they can properly help, Ray said. She wants to know how many of the homeless are mentally ill, have a drug or alcohol problem and are victims of domestic violence.

Gathering such data is a suggestion of Robert Marbut, the homeless consultant who spoke at a September town hall meeting in Grass Valley. Marbut argued the community lacked the statistics it needs to effectively combat homelessness.

Jim Hemig, publisher of The Union, helped bring Marbut to Grass Valley for the town hall forum. Hemig said he hopes the local governments will pursue a homelessness survey that provides more data.

Scofield is one person interested in completing that more in-depth survey of the area’s homeless population. That survey would go beyond the point-in-time count the county periodically performs. He wants to know how long people have been homeless, if they’re from the area and if they use any services.

Many local nonprofits are ready to further the community conversation and want a single survey that provides that information, Scofield said. He, like Fouyer and Ray, wants any effort to be coordinated.

Cindy Maple, director of Hospitality House, also wants to work with local government. She said elected leaders are essential to ending homelessness.

Maple said she met last week with Grass Valley Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout and Nevada City Councilman Robert Bergman.

Both council members next month will attend a meeting of the area’s a Continuum of Care, which is composed of several groups and individuals who assist the homeless.

“Elected officials need to be at the table on this,” Maple said.

Working in tandem, while a main goal, is ultimately one of the biggest hurdles, Fouyer said.

“This is one of the challenges of government,” he added. “It doesn’t work as fast as we’d like it to work.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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