SLO County changes course on federal grant awards after outcry

July 14, 2022


Following outcry over a plan to funnel $3 million of federal funds to a group of local nonprofits that provide homeless services, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors reversed course and, on Tuesday, divvied up the funds to nearly three dozen organizations that offer a wider array of community programs.

San Luis Obispo County has received millions of dollars of federal COVID-19 relief funds. In May, supervisors Bruce Gibson and John Peschong attempted to direct $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to a total of seven nonprofits focused on providing homeless services.

During his tenure as a county supervisor, Gibson has been involved in numerous efforts to combat homelessness, including creating a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Along with former Supervisor Adam Hill, Gibson directed millions of dollars to favored homeless services nonprofits. Yet, SLO County has recently ranked as high as second in the nation in homeless individuals per capita.

The effort in May by Gibson and Peschong to direct $3 million more to local homeless services organizations drew backlash, and following public comments against the plan, the board of supervisors rejected the proposal.

On Tuesday, the supervisors approved a revised set of funding allocations to a total of 35 organizations. The board awarded at least $25,000 each to nonprofits that serve local homeless, children, families and seniors and provide shelter, food, education, arts, health care and more.

Still, the top grants awarded this week related to homelessness. The board of supervisors awarded $430,000 to the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) for the continued operation of its Paso Robles transitional shelter. The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) received $350,000 for homeless outreach and engagement at safe parking sites. Additionally, the county gave $275,000 to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition for an emergency shelter in South County.

The $3 million worth of ARPA grants make up just a small portion of the $55 million in funds the county received as part of the federal COVID-19 recovery package.

From those federal funds, another $6 million was allocated toward housing and efforts to combat homelessness, while another $3 million went to child care organizations. The rest of the funds have gone to water, sewer and broadband; public health emergency response; restoration of government services; and small business grants/workforce development.

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Give them out as matching funds, tied to the non-profit’s ability to raise funding on their own.

We have a lot of non-profits here in SLO. Some are truly functional, effective, efficient, organizations. While others are adrift-vehicles of ego lacking true purposes. Too many non-profits competing against each other for limited resources.

Giving each a dollar dilutes the effectiveness of that dollar. Pick a limited number of worthy recipients and move on. Problem solving and pleasing everyone at the same time just does not occur in real life. Make hard choices you are elected to do.

This is great news for the downtrodden who will come to seize the opportunity. What the media does not printed is that California Law only requires 5% to go directly to the benefit, that means as much as 95% can go to overhead such as wages. Certainly that is not the case for CAPSLO, even though they have some with six figure salaries, because they manage a budget of a couple hundred million dollars.

MAKE HOMELESSNESS ILLEGAL. There, problem solved. First offense is a ride to a shelter. Second offense is a ride to jail for a short stay. Third offense is a more lengthy term where labor will be done in an effort to contribute towards society and to sustain their own existence.

“Make Homelessness Illegal. Problem solved”. Unusualsuspect suggests jail time and work camps. Oh yeah, this is a brilliant idea (sarcasm) …. maybe perhaps bring back the workhouses like Charles Dicken’s London in the 1850’s. Homelessness is not an easy issue to solve. I met an older homeless former Catholic nun in Atascadero several years ago. Great lady…. I wish some citizens would realize that because a person is homeless they are not an automatic bum.

Vacation Rentals are taking too much of our housing supply, all to profit on line sites such as VRBO and AirBnB and add funds to gov’t through transient occupancy taxes. Gov’t serving itself.

What exactly is “restoration of government services”? Anything more definitive?

Good point. Maybe the homeless can use their “broadband” service to Google it.

SLO County is already a hobo magnet for the entire West Coast…Gibson and Peschong just want to supersize their Field of Dreams — if you build it, even more will come.

Actually, the “Hobo” was a generally honest person, either down on his luck, or relishing the Hobo life instead of the “rat race”. Hobo’s would offer some very temporary work for pay or a meal, often by knocking on doors and asking to do some chores for a meal or money. Along the railways (easiest way to travel), they would leave pictographs on bridges and walls, known as the Hobo Code. These indicated a safe place for the night, a kind home, a dangerous dog, a meal from a store etc. Hobo life was almost commendable!

Compared to the drug addled, and dangerously mentally deranged homeless we have today, who decided bad choices in life were preferable.

Sure, doesn’t have anything to do with the temperate weather. It’s all the fault of politicians.