Nevada County supervisors get update on homelessness plan | TheUnion.com

Nevada County supervisors get update on homelessness plan

Nevada County officials said Tuesday they want a homeless day center open this summer, with it turning into a 24/7 facility within two years.

The center initially would be open nine hours a day, five days a week. It would then expand to a facility that remains open every day, including holidays.

The precise cost and location of the day center remain unknown. Michael Heggarty, director of the county's Health and Human Services Agency, said he's budgeting $250,000 for the pilot program. The 24/7 facility is expected to cost significantly more.

"I think this is going to be a big issue," Supervisor Hank Weston said. "Again, we've got to find the place. Just locating it is going to be a difficult issue."

Supervisors early last year made homelessness a priority.

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The day center is one of several aspects of a presentation on homelessness delivered Tuesday to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Heggarty told supervisors other parts of the plan include monthly meetings of homeless service providers, a nomadic shelter that would free beds at Hospitality House and a housing first program.

"This is a very important step for us," Heggarty said, noting existing programs have requirements to enter them. The housing first initiative would have only one — that the person have no home.

Additionally, Heggarty proposed the county provide an additional $250,000 annually from its general fund for homelessness on top of the $170,000 it currently allocates.

Nancy Baglietto, executive director of Hospitality House, and Janice O'Brien, president of Sierra Roots, praised the plan. Baglietto also thanked supervisors for over $37,000 they approved Tuesday for another 15 beds through April 15.

"Hospitality House is very much in support of this," Baglietto said.

Speaking during public comment, Matthew Coulter encouraged officials to supply basic necessities to homeless people — fresh water, bathrooms and roofs over their heads. Coulter also chided part of Heggarty's plan that calls for hiring a consultant with an anticipated $70,000 in grant funds. That consultant will create a strategic plan.

"Consultants?" Coulter asked. "I mean, come on."

In addition to detailing future plans, Heggarty discussed steps officials took last year toward reducing homelessness.

Supervisors early last year made homelessness a priority. That designation led officials to form a committee composed of homeless advocates, along with officials from Nevada City, Grass Valley and the county. That group identified service gaps in the Continuum of Care, a panel of homeless service organizations.

Additionally, the county in July hired Brendan Phillips as its housing resource manager, in October provided another $44,000 to Hospitality House and in December opened the Bost House, a substance abuse treatment facility.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.