Redwood City — The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today awarded three cities a total of $2.4 million to help end homelessness.
Redwood City and Millbrae will expand existing programs that steer individuals and families experiencing homelessness into shelters and services. Half Moon Bay will provide a safe parking area, with hygiene facilities and outreach services for people living in vehicles.
“We challenged our community to develop innovative ideas that will help end homelessness and promised to assist with funding those ideas,” said Don Horsley, president of the Board of Supervisors. “These cities are on the front lines of our countywide efforts to tackle homelessness and also treat everyone without shelter with dignity and respect.”
Collectively, the three cities aim to engage a share of the 1,092 unsheltered residents of San Mateo County with service providers and help them transition to interim or permanent housing. The County’s three grants will be supplemented with local funds, and each city will report progress and performance metrics.
Redwood City will receive $1,047,450. With the funds, the city will build upon the County’s efforts to increase emergency shelter and emergency supportive housing capacity and leverage state and city funding to expand intensive, coordinated, inter-agency homeless outreach in the city through local non-profit community partner organizations.
Redwood City will also work closely with the County systems to address the barriers and challenges for the hardest to serve populations, identifying and piloting innovative solutions that could eventually be expanded countywide.
“Through this generous grant, Redwood City will be able to intensify civilian outreach, bringing a more personalized approach to our residents experiencing homelessness,” said Melissa Stevenson Diaz, the city manager of Redwood City. “We thank the County for their continued support and for our lockstep partnership to achieve functional zero homelessness.”
Half Moon Bay will receive $983,704. The city and County will work with the nonprofit WeHope to provide a safe-parking site for individuals and families living in vehicles along with showers, restrooms, laundry and other services.
With a launch expected in 2023, the County expects to accommodate up to 10 vehicles initially with the average stay of about 90 days. WeHope will provide case management and provide connections to housing, employment and other services.
“By providing for a safe place to park, use shower and bathroom facilities, and housing and other support services, this program will improve the safety, health, and quality of life for those on the Coastside who live in vehicles,” said Debbie Ruddock, Half Moon Bay mayor. “We’re grateful to the County of San Mateo for this crucial funding and partnership, as well as WeHope and other involved nonprofits which work so diligently to provide substantial, practical help to those in need.”
Millbrae will receive $370,572 to focus on the unsheltered population in the downtown area, linking them with shelter services, transportation assistance and referrals. The effort will expand on an existing program centered on the BART/SFO transportation corridor.
In partnership with the nonprofit LifeMoves, the city will provide “rapid response and outreach” with what are known as Homeless Outreach Teams to serve and support homeless individuals with outreach, engagement, case management and other services that address mental health issues and drug and alcohol use.
“Our Homeless Outreach Team pilot program at the Millbrae transit station, in partnership with San Mateo County and the City of Millbrae has proven itself to be a successful model. The continuation of this program will ensure that unhoused individuals exiting BART trains receive the care and resources necessary to move off the streets,” said Aubrey Merriman, CEO of LifeMoves.
The County received nine proposals in response to a challenge announced in September 2022 to develop bold and innovative solutions to local homelessness. A six-member advisory committee recommended funding the three approved today.
Funding initially comes from the federal American Rescue Plan, a stimulus package aimed to assist populations hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The County may seek reimbursement from the state and federal governments for homeless prevention programs where possible.
The Board’s decision to fund challenge grants grew out of the County’s “Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness” initiative. This effort brings together local civic leaders along with representatives from business and faith-based groups as well as residents to develop plans to achieve what is called “functional zero” homelessness in San Mateo County.
Functional zero is where every unsheltered homeless person who chooses assistance will be provided interim or permanent housing.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the County has worked hard to safely house our homeless residents, a population that has been uniquely impacted by the public health emergency.
Using a combination of state and local funds and other sources, the County has purchased five hotels that have been transformed into 313 units of interim and permanent housing.
Another 240 units serving 260 individuals will be added when the Navigation Center opens. The County has also expanded medical, social and behavioral health services for residents living on the streets and in encampments.
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