SLO County declares homeless crisis

February 3, 2016

HomelessSweep-campThe San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to declare a homeless shelter crisis. The declaration allows officials to open up county buildings at night so the homeless can stay warm.

The board also authorized spending a total of $10,000 on addressing the problem. Local homeless services providers can apply for the funds.

Additionally, the board urged city councils in SLO County to follow its lead by also declaring a shelter crisis and allocating $10,000 toward warming centers.

Despite there being a crisis declaration, local warming centers are not currently at capacity. There are 112 beds at warming centers in the county, and no more than 68 have been full on any night this year.

The warming centers are not full due in part to staffing shortages. Also, some homeless individuals choose not to go them because they cannot bring their pets and all of their belongings, county officials said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Supervisor Adam Hill asked if county funds could be used to place the homeless at campgrounds. Hill noted that some homeless people need places to put their pets and possessions.

Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

County administrator Dan Buckshi said the shelter crisis designation refers only to county buildings and not campgrounds.

Some critics of Hill allege the supervisor created a conflict of interest by raising the issue of campgrounds. Hill’s wife, Dee Torres-Hill, runs a nonprofit that is currently trying to place homeless individuals in campgrounds.

The county’s shelter crisis will sunset on April 15.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The “homeless” always loiter at my downtown office and would utilize our outside electrical sockets to charge their smartphones (until we cut the power). Yes they have smartphones.

Can someone explain to me where Verizon sends the bill to a homeless cellphone user? I don’t think they pay for PO Boxes.

Well, aren’t you the bright one? Outsmarted them. Costing you a fortune, was it? Would you prefer that a person who finds themselves homeless be unable to pursue a job lead? Have no way to call for assistance? Have no way to connect with family? Research possible options, such as other housing? You are assuming that they would all prefer to live in the cold and sponge off of you, even if they had alternatives. Why don’t you just drop in at Verizon and ask them why they let homeless people have cell phones? If a phone is your only connection to the modern world, it better be a good one. I don’t have a smart phone, but would certainly reconsider in that position. Rents and wages being what they are, it is hardly surprising that these things are happening. Thanks for lending a helping hand – NOT.

Bring back the vagrancy laws. Institutionalize the insane.


Crisis averted.

I have seen a lot of really genius solutions here – NOT. There but for the grace of God goes you or I. I have been an extra hard working individual for most of my life. Yet, more than once I came close to homelessness. Do any of you know how many homeless are children? Or perhaps are you aware of the vast number of veterans who end up either physically or mentally disabled – or both – due to circumstances that it is obvious none of you have ever experienced. We let these guys lay on the street and just walk past. How many of you are all hyped up to “show ’em who’s boss” from your arm chair during the next war while weapons manufacturers are making a fortune and the politician you voted in, who voted for the war is receiving fat contributions.

It is not always so simple as they are just “lazy” and “criminals”, as anyone who has had a loved one secumb to untreatable mental illness knows. And the way we approach treatment for drug abuse is obviously NOT working. Drug treatment centers might just save us money in the long run, if some of these folks could regain a productive life.

For many of the individuals who are living this way, for whatever reason, their pet is their only trusted friend. Often an animal is the one who guards them as they sleep. I have seen them go hungry to feed their pet. They cannot be asked to give up what is often their only fragile hold on normalcy or affection.

There are “tiny house” communities being built to solve some of these problems in other parts of the country. It would not work for all those without shelter, but seems to work well for many. Perhaps we could consider creating such a place here. In my opinion, it beats denegrating something you don’t understand.