Claremont city officials reinvest in area’s homeless

With unanimous approval from the local council, the city of Claremont will continue in its tradition of providing Community Based Organization (CBO) funding to local programming for the homeless.

Every year the city provides financial assistance to local nonprofit organizations providing aid to those in need throughout the local community. Organizations must apply and go through an extensive review conducted by the Community and Human Services Commission.

More than $146,000 was distributed to 24 regional outreach groups through 2013-2014 funding. Of that amount, about $60,000 was specifically designated to six organizations providing programs to help the area’s homeless. The homeless outreach was added to the existing CBO program in 2007, financially supported by money accrued through the Transit and Occupancy tax generated from Casa 425, according to Kathleen Trepa, the city’s director of community and human services. This money is used to help the chronically homeless, assist those without reliable shelter and provide aid to those in risk of becoming homeless.

Assistance extends not just to Claremont residents, but also those within the Claremont Unified School District. In 2013-2014, an estimated 435 individuals were assisted through the city’s homeless program.

The CBO program, however, was called into question in 2012. Council members raised issue with the fact that the city had not discussed a cap to funds received by any one organization, as nonprofits should be developing on their own. Consistently giving CBO money to any one nonprofit went against the intended use of the program, Councilmember Corey Calaycay had claimed.

“It was intended to be seed money, not to keep organizations afloat indefinitely,” Mr. Calaycay said at the April 2012 council meeting, also expressing his discomfort with calling the program a grant when given out to the same organizations on a regular basis.

To date, the CBO and Homeless Program grant allocation policy has not included any restrictions on the number of years an agency or program can apply for funding. Though time restrictions do not exist, all grant recipients must go through an extensive review process before any funds are released to ensure the programs are operated and the services are delivered consistent to the approved grant, Ms. Trepa noted. Funding is not relinquished until the organization can prove the money was used for its intended purpose.

At the city’s 2013 priorities meeting, the council directed staff to evaluate the issue of homelessness in the community and how best to leverage the CBO grant funding process to address the needs of the area’s homeless.

Based on a homeless count conducted last year and other data, it is estimated about 51 homeless people either reside in or originate from the city of Claremont. Fifteen of these individuals—14 men, one female—and the CBO’s current homeless program providers were surveyed by a specialist from Tri City Mental Health as part of an existing contract with the city. Of those surveyed, 75 percent said they were unaware of local assistance programs or did not have any way to access them. A majority said they would most like help accessing basic shelter (most said they were not comfortable with the local shelter in Pomona). A hot shower and free laundry services also ranked high on their list of needs.

Based on information gleaned from the survey, and recommendations past down from the Claremont Community and Human Services Commission, the council renewed its support of funding the local homeless grant program. In addition, the city will maintain its commitment to providing aid not only to the chronically homeless, but those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

To aid in that mission, the city of Claremont will continue to support and assist the Claremont Homeless Advocacy Program (CHAP), a local advocacy group geared at providing support to homeless individuals and those at risk. After its Summer To End Homelessness Campaign, CHAP volunteers are refocusing their efforts with sights set on finding or developing shelter and/or affordable housing opportunities.

While maximizing local funding opportunities, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Lyons—representing the city of Claremont on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government’s committee on homelessness—continues to vie for regional support for the city.

“This is an issue we can never have a simple solution to,” Mayor Opanyi Nasiali said. “Any means we can find to assist, we welcome that.”

—Beth Hartnett



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