Report shows homeless languishing in San Luis Obispo County

January 8, 2014

Dee TorresBy KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County is ranked third in the nation for the highest percent of homeless who sleep unsheltered and is bucking the national trend of reducing homelessness, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report made to Congress.

In San Luis Obispo County, 90 percent of homeless sleep unsheltered. Nationally, 35 percent of homeless sleep in unsheltered locations, the report says.

Nationally, since 2007, there has been a 27 percent decrease in the percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, the report says. During the same period, the number of people staying in shelters increased by less than 1 percent and the total number of homeless decreased by 9 percent.

A national effort to reduce homelessness through a plan that promotes rapid rehousing programs for homeless families and some adults and supportive housing for the chronically homeless has resulted in a 4 percent reduction in overall homelessness from 2012 to 2013, the report says. These programs focus on quickly helping homeless find employment, housing, mental health services and connecting them with social service programs.

In San Luis Obispo County, where efforts to help homeless have focused on building a hundred bed shelter and mandating that homeless agree to a case management program that requires they relinquish financial control of their income, the number of homeless increased 3 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the SLO County 2013 homeless report.

A report released last year by SLO County’s Homelessness Services Oversight Council details the failures of the county’s “10-year-plan to end homelessness.” SLO County Social Services Director Lee Collins told the County Board of Supervisors in November that non-sheltered homeless people also stress county and private medical resources.

Supervisor Adam Hill questioned the validity of the county report and its depiction of homeless people. Hill argued that while the report noted the plan’s failures, it did not mention the people they had helped.

Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) homeless services director Dee Torres originally argued against diverting from the 10-year-plan and moving homeless funding efforts toward long-term housing. However, at the supervisor meeting in November, Torres changed her position saying she could support the plan as long as those placed into housing would be required to work with case management which she felt the county should not oversee.

Currently, homeless wanting to secure a bed in the homeless shelter are required to enter CAPSLO case management which mandates that clients dole out about 50 percent of their income to CAPSLO or an affiliate agency to be managed.

 







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  1. MaryMalone says:

    Do other homeless services agencies dictate what their re-homed clients do? For instance, do they restrict a re-homed client from having a glass of wine with dinner or a beer while watching their kids play?

  2. JB Bronson says:

    Re: MaryMalone’s comment- “All the SLO County BOS has to do is stop funding CAPSLO and, instead, fund other organizations that can more efficiently…”

    CAPSLO will respond as they historically have: “Only WE know how to deal with the homeless”. Okay, well except for a few on the BOS and some at CAPSLO, we are over that idea.

    How about setting aside BOS funds previously awarded to CAPSLO and invite proposals for homeless services? I think one of the consequences of the BOS/CAPSLO/DSS relationship is that they have effectively blocked other providers from blossoming in providing services to the homeless.

    It really is time for a fresh look.

  3. LAH says:

    “Torres changed her position saying she could support the plan as long as those placed into housing would be required to work with case management which she felt the county should not oversee.”

    IS she saying she is against checks and balances? Or is she getting fed up with Adam telling her what to do?…lol With Family ties under investigation, I am shocked she would verbalize her opinion about being ‘overseen by the county’.

    • MaryMalone says:

      If Torres doesn’t want CAPSLO’s homeless services to be overseen by the county, then CAPSLO should not be receiving county tax-funded support.

  4. kayaknut says:

    One of the best things for the homeless that the voters of SLO county can do is to make sure District 2 and 3 elected new people and show Mr. Hill and Gibson the door. That hopefully would start needed change, first by replacing most administration at CAPSLO, or better yet dissolving it, and then actually help the homeless instead of just helping maintain bloated salaries

    • MaryMalone says:

      All the SLO County BOS has to do is stop funding CAPSLO and, instead, fund other organizations that can more efficiently, and with less trauma to the homeless, place homeless people in homes. That will be enough of a hit to bring it down.

      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        Your comment makes me think you are incredibly naive about housing costs and availability in this area. I won’t say CAPSLO is doing a perfect job but where are these mythical organizations that can do better. (Dan DeVaul was — with some justification — given the shaft by a group of politically-powerful NIMBYs and he was only trying to house a few incidental to an addiction treatment program.)

  5. shelworth says:

    Seems pretty simple to me, just look at cities that have reduced the homeless population, then do what they did.

    • MaryMalone says:

      I bet part of what the other cities have done to reduce the number of homeless people in their city did NOT include stealing donated items intended for the homeless.

    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      If cities with comparable situations have found solutions (even partial ones), I would agree. Do you know of any that have a comparable percentage of the population who are homeless and an attractive climate that have reduced their unsheltered rates to average or below?

  6. grc says:

    Adam Hill is a hack

    • Kevin 99 says:

      Now, this is what annoys me and, I hope, others like me. Someone says “Adam Hill is a hack,” without any explanation, without describing actions that led to that conclusion, without anything other than a drive-by shot. A “hack” is a mercenary–a guy (usually) who actually is doing the work on behalf of some other entity or organization. So who is this other person, or entity or organization for which Adam Hill is “hacking,” and what’s in it for them, and what’s in it for him? If you don’t like his position on an issue, spell it out. If you don’t like his vote on a matter, dispute it. If you just don’t like him personally–and many don’t–say that his personality bugs you. But this kind of shot adds nothing to discourse or debate and, even more disheartening, it earns 21 “likes” and only 3 “dislikes?”

      Does anybody know how to debate anymore? Does anyone understand the process that begins with facts, considers options and offers a reasoned opinion? Or is it all “This guy is a putz!’ “She’s a jerk!” and other playground taunts?

      • MaryMalone says:

        In defense of the poster, this posting community is quite aware of Adam Hill and his nincompoopery.

        Your point is well taken, however. It would have been helpful if a couple of links to articles were provided.

        On the other hand, you could have done a search on this website for “Adam Hill” and brought yourself up to speed with the established posting community.

      • LameCommenter says:

        A short comment like “Adam Hill is a hack” doesn’t annoy me one bit, 99. The buffoonery AND illegal votes for his girlfriend’s agency funding are legend. He should have recused himself. It’s nice to see a terse, to the point repeat negative comment about the supervisor. It beats my wordy stuff any day!

    • mbhomeless says:

      You might want to check some of your old Jamie Irons comments.

  7. mbhomeless says:

    Has anyone ever just thought of building mobile home parks? For profit, that have fewer restrictions – to include vans and stationwagons. Provide full hook-ups and a bathing, bathroom, and kitchen facility, like some trailer parks and campgrounds already do? A property manager with a security guard and a staff? Bet they’d fill up fast and stay filled and the streets would empty.The day of affordable apartments in SLO Co are gone, that is a reality, but anyone can afford an old van or a camper.

    • Rambunctious says:

      Hey! that sounds great! we can fill the park with homeless workers. They can pay there way by working in our grape fields. We can call them “mobile home” work parks. We can even have fewer restrictions so you can get blasted every night. mbhomeless I think we are in tune. And do you know what would be really great? We can find a guy named Woody to play guitar for us.

      • Kevin 99 says:

        And we can find a guy named John Steinbeck to describe it.

      • mbhomeless says:

        Get your heat out of the dust bowl, Rambunctous. New day, new problems. It’s simple, you have the income, you stay – you don’t, you leave – like any other apartment complex or mobile home park, which also often have security guards. The key is, make it affordable and accessible to compensate for the poor job this county is doing of providing housing for its working class. I don’t know why you want to bring hard labor into the discussion, unless you’re one of these naive individuals that believe all homeless are unemployed.We’ll put a sign up at the entrance that says “No Trespassing” one side but nothing on the other!

    • TaxMeAgain says:

      I think they’ve done that. It’s called Fresno.

  8. freshair says:

    The reality is:

    1. Housing doesn’t exist for those without incomes. Bedding priority is given to those willing to lock themselves into Capslo’s case management program and are promising candidates to receive Social Security.

    Recipients of Social Security are based on their inability to work, incidently. It can be clearly inferred that Capslo capitalizes on the disabled via the Family Ties program.

    It is important to keep in mind that Capslo rakes in $60 Million annually, 58 from Federal subsidies.

    Those willing to subject themselves to unstable bedding practices at the Maxine, the only night shelter in San Luis Obispo, may stay up up to 30 days but also can be awakened in the middle of the night and to be told to leave in order to allow someone else “more in need” to be allowed to stay.

    If a person has some steady income or is pending Social Security, the Maxine/ Capslo is more than happy to allow a person to reserve a bed for that individual indefinitely via its Family Ties program, which charges 70% of one’s monthly income.That amounts to $600/month for Social Security recipients.

    The integrity of this program is highly questionable. This program is currently under investigation by the Federal government for reporting false statements on it’s 2010 tax form: http://calcoastnews.com/2013/03/federal-agency-starts-investigation-of-family-ties-and-niesen/

    At least one individual, Cliff Anderson, who resided at Maxine for four years, exited the program last Spring and is owed thousands of dollars: (http://calcoastnews.com/2013/02/alleged-homeless-advocates-accused-of-stealing-from-the-poor/)

    2. Low income housing in the county is scarce and the rising demand for new applicants just cannot be met. Capslo has a 200 bed facility the organization seeking to erect. It’s intentions are questionable regarding profiting under the guise of facilitating disabled individuals to qualify for Social Security and requiring them to enroll in the Family Ties program.

    3. Pandhandling in downtown SLO is extremely lucrative. Tourists empathatically give $5, 10, and $20 bills. People pack cheap motels in town and enjoy their liquor and drugs. Additionally, young couples who don’t wish to enroll in case managemen depend on handouts for a roof over their head night after night since they now cannot legally stay overnight in their vehicles.

    • mbhomeless says:

      Housing also does not exist for those with LOW incomes – working people.

  9. OnTheOtherHand says:

    I suspect that the biggest reasons that SLO has such a high rate of unsheltered homeless has to do with a combination of a weak blue-collar job market and a high cost of housing. There are simply too many people here battling for too few jobs that provide enough income for the $1000/mo plus needed to rent a 2-bedroom apartment.

    The student population (many of whom must work to afford college) is often seen as a better alternative for many of the lower income jobs than homeless people. Sometimes that is justified by the substance abusers among the homeless but it isn’t fair to many others to stereotype that way.

    As others have mentioned, I think that our climate and some other factors attract more than our fair share of homeless to the area too.

    • MaryMalone says:

      But the figures quoted in this article is the percentage of homeless people nationally who sleep without shelter is 35% and locally it is 70%.

      That means 70% of SLO’s homeless population sleep without shelter.

      It doesn’t matter if there are 100 or 5000 homeless people, the percentage remains the same.

      And that percentage is TWICE the percentage of the national percentage.

      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        If we have a disproportionate number of homeless here in SLO (and I bet we do), it means that our resources PER CAPITA are spread out a lot thinner meaning we would have to provide proportionately more to bring down the unsheltered percentage. While there are a number of people able and willing to pay more, there are a lot more who are not only unwilling and unable to do so as well.

        Building a new shelter with twice the capacity of the existing one will cost a lot of money — especially since providing cheap, sub-standard housing in a place with rigorous, well-enforced building codes. And for some reason, a lot of residents and business owners don’t want a large population of homeless people located within half a mile of them.