Hill promotes wife during homeless debate

February 1, 2016
Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

As community leaders decide how to best handle the recently displaced homeless population in Grover Beach, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill is promoting his wife’s homeless nonprofit while denigrating other competing homeless services providers.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to address the Grover Beach situation at the Tuesday board meeting, deciding whether to provide additional funding to provide shelter and warming centers for homeless this winter.

Janna Nichols, executive director of the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, appeared last Thursday on KVEC radio to speak with host Dave Congalton about long term solutions for the homeless in South County.

Meanwhile, Hill’s wife, Dee Torres-Hill, has recently stepped into the Grover Beach effort with nonprofit, SLO Housing Connection. Torres-Hill has been giving vouchers to homeless people for short term shelter.

Several local housing activists, who declined to be named for this story, expressed concern that Supervisor Hill faces a conflict of interest if he champions county funding for his wife’s program.

Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill

Hill also fired off a mass email last week, taking a swipe at Nichols for her appearance on the Congalton broadcast. Hill sent the email to former county supervisor Jim Patterson, thanking him for donating to the Torres-Hill nonprofit:

“Good work, Jim. Dee is busting her butt to help these people who are disabled, ill, and have ben [sic] living in terrible squalor,” Hill’s email says.
 “I hope more of you will help, including some hands-on help, and some discussions about what’s next.
 This coming Tuesday there will be a discussion of the crisis before the BOS and I hope to hear from some of the service providers so we can know what’s being done, what should be done, what can be done, and what resources are still needed. 
I sure hope the Five Cities Homeless Coalition will do more than appear on a toxic AM radio show. Really. We need do-ers!”

If the county declares a shelter crisis, funds for homeless nonprofits working with the homeless could be made available. Five local organizations operate warming centers and shelters, 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, CAPSLO, Paso Cares, Atascadero First Assembly Church and Atascadero Bible Church.

It is uncertain what Torres-Hill can bring to the Grover Beach situation. Torres-Hill, formerly with CAPSLO, started the SLO Housing Connection, a nonprofit that provides homeless services that appear to duplicate many CAPSLO services, including case management, shelter and employment services.

In the spring of 2015, the entire SLO Housing Connection Board quit, allegedly because Torres-Hill refused to take direction and was not following the non-profit’s mission statement, a former board member who has asked to remain unnamed said.

Nevertheless, Torres-Hill has continued seeking funding and donations for her nonprofit. It is suspected she will attend the board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday seeking a piece of the homeless nonprofit funding pie.

Asked to comment on Hill’s email, Congalton said “The record of the Five Cities Homeless Coalition speaks for itself. Sadly, so does the record of Supervisor Hill.”

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Here’s the deal:

For a homeless “program” to be successful, there have to be a few things in place. Some of them are going to seem so basic it almost seems shameful to even type them, but we live in a stupid world these days.

First of all, IF this 5 cities homeless shenanigans goes on, and they build/lease/take over space for homeless “services” then panhandling must be outlawed. Everywhere in SLO county. The “why” will follow.

Homeless services are voluntary. Believe it or not, some people are making it a lifestyle choice to be homeless. Some are avoiding child support. Some do not want to “deal” with bills and a home. If people choose NOT to receive homeless services, then so be it. There are consequences to just sitting around not taking help that the citizens of SLO county have already donated to homelessness. To panhandle them and accost and be annoying is unacceptable. There are days I don’t particularly like sitting on the 101 in this weird trafficky nightmare to make a living. I could choose to let my hair become dreadlocks and bask on the beach, but then again I like living in a house and not a van down by the river. Some homeless people choose not to participate in services, because “rules suck”. I agree. I also like a paycheck, so I comply. They are both choices done with free will.

Secondly, you cannot case manage homeless people without simultaneously dealing with their mental health and substance use issues. It sucks being sober for most of America some days. Our huge wine industry with its rich local sales to SLO county residents says a lot of loving to “unwind”. Imagine a life in a tent with a shopping cart as your ride. For some, it is a horrible thing from which they need to self medicate.This is why any willing people need to be treated as a “whole”. Detox should be available. Suboxxone, methadone, etc should be available.

Staff to assist people in getting some general assistance benefits and health insurance enrollment.

This process NEEDS to be a process, but only if the people who matter (the homeless people themselves) actually want to do the work to improve their living situation. There is usually a story regarding how a person became homeless, and that person must really want to change their life story. It is hard to pull up your boot straps on the central coast in this economy. Not impossible, but it is rough if you don’t have the right skill set and ability to earn that money.

That all said, I do not know Dee Torres’ educational background that would prepare her for running a Homeless PROGRAM. I would like to see a program that has some sort of everyday living skills curriculum to teach people how to make a budget, shop at a store, wash their clothes at the laundry mat, deal with like stress sober, the importance of taking medication and/or seeking ONGOING mental health for serious mental health conditions. They need to teach people how to clean their homes, the importance of personal hygeine. I have worked with this population before, and I learned never to assume someone taught a person basic “adulting”. It is mind boggling how many do not.

If a full curriculum based, planned program to help homeless on their feet cannot be established, then don’t do it at all. Either people want it or they don’t. Sometimes there are strings attached in life. For “normal people”, it is 7 percent interest on a bank loan. I don’t like it, but if I want the loan, I suck it up and deal.

If Dee Torres is the best fit for this potential “job”, so be it. I get Adam Hill wanting to support his wife, but if she is as awesome as he thinks she is, then her name and reputation will stand on their own. I do know all the accusations that happened when she was running a homeless program at Prado.

I still say SLO city has homeless services set up. Doctors, clinics, and well established bus routes are there in SLO. That’s just my thought.

KVEC and Dave Congalton is a great asset to our community. They team up and work tirelessly to find shelter for homeless animals. How can we praise KVEC for their efforts to find shelter for animals. Yet Adam Hill and others tries to find shelter for humans but he gets criticized. He is blamed like he is the only one trying to help the homeless. I like CCN but it is turning into a vehicle for dirty politics.

sezlittle CCN has become a vehicle for revealing dirty politics, politicians, and developers. It’s about time CCN and it’s reporters receive an investigative journalism award for all of the positive changes they have created.

Was this after Adam’s Burger King “drive-thru?”

Lets hope this is just Mr. Hill realizing he developer gravy train is ending with his soon to be election defeat and that this team feels they need to continue stealing money from the taxpayers