Supervisor Heidi Hall pushes for housing, homelessness funding; officials agree issues are a priority |

Supervisor Heidi Hall pushes for housing, homelessness funding; officials agree issues are a priority

A majority of Nevada County supervisors on Tuesday opposed a move to shuffle funds from an existing project to housing and homelessness, a suggestion made by Supervisor Heidi Hall moments after the board approved its budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Hall argued supervisors made housing and homelessness top priorities in January, yet have failed to allocate any money to them. A member of a homelessness committee, Hall said a portion of the $1 million slated for a new county operations center should instead be earmarked to fix two of the county’s largest problems.

“It seems to me to be a good place to allocate some of that money,” Hall said.

The $1 million is separate from the county’s $229 million budget, which supervisors passed unanimously moments before Hall’s suggestion.

Other supervisors opposed the move, saying they want a plan in place before allocating any funding.

“Homelessness — it is a very big issue,” Supervisor Ed Scofield said. “We need a plan we can put our hands on.”

According to CEO Rick Haffey, the county has taken steps to address the county’s housing and homelessness issues. It’s close to hiring a housing coordinator, a newly created position, and it applied for a five-year, $2 million grant that would provide services to homeless people who are mentally ill or have substance abuse issues.

“I don’t want the impression to be given to the community that we have an ‘A’ priority and we’re not doing anything,” Haffey said.

The vote to allocate the $1 million toward a new operations center, which needed a four-fifths vote, passed 4-to-1. Hall opposed.

The $1 million comes from a bond for the Darkhorse development in South County. The developer of that project had a surety bond for the project’s infrastructure. When the developer defaulted, the county received about $3.5 million to complete the infrastructure, said Martin Polt, the county CFO.

About $1 million remains after completing the area’s infrastructure, which supervisors can use toward other projects. They opted to put it toward a new operations center planned for La Barr Meadows Road, Polt said.

The county will issue bonds for that project, which is expected to open in two to three years. The $1 million will help reduce the cost of those bonds, he added.

The new operations center would replace the existing one on Loma Rica Road, which houses county vehicles.

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

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