Council approves increased effort to capture Measure H funds

The city is fighting back after a local homeless agency made it more difficult to procure funding to combat homelessness.

The council unanimously approved sending strongly-worded letters to the LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office, as well as to the head of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Peter Lynn, during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The news was part of a homeless services update by Human Services Director Anne Turner, highlighting what the city has done to combat homelessness in Claremont.

The past year saw the creation of the Collaborative Community Response to Claremont Homelessness (better known as the Collaborative), passing a full-fledged Homeless Services Plan in spring 2018 and working with other cities and agencies to develop a regional approach to homelessness.

All the while, the city has been jumping through the appropriate hoops to qualify for a chunk of $3 million in one-time state homeless funds, known as HEAP funds (Homeless Emergency Aid Program), which would be distributed by LAHSA. The LA County Board of Supervisors mandated the distribution in September 2018 for cities to implement their homeless plans, Ms. Turner said.

It would work like this: the city would partner with a qualified local nonprofit (in this case, Inland Valley Hope Partners) and apply together, she said, along with a letter from a city that identifies that nonprofit as the city’s partner. Along with that partnership, the city declared an emergency shelter crisis and passed a homeless services plan, two items that would make them well qualified to receive those funds.

But two addendums to the funding requirements, passed seven days before the requests were due, “basically wiped that all out,” Ms. Turner said. The addendums blended state funds—which were specifically set aside for cities like Claremont—with other types of funding, which the city says would force them to compete with other agencies.

“This is a monumental issue as cities such as Claremont, as well as cities across the region, must now compete with agencies and community-based organizations that have established relationships with LAHSA for HEAP funds intended to help cities integrate with the county’s homeless solutions efforts,” the letter from Mayor Corey Calaycay to Ms. Solis read.

Furthermore, Ms. Turner said a letter from a city would not be required anymore, which could enable any group to use Claremont’s plan to apply “without ever speaking to the city of Claremont at all, without our support, without knowing our plan, without anything. They can get funded to provide services in our city.”

The letter noted that the city was “appalled” at LAHSA’s decision, and urged the board of supervisors to rescind it.

CHAP, Claremont’s local homeless advocacy group, does not qualify for Measure H funds because they need at least two years of audited financial statements to apply.

“Unfortunately, organizations like CHAP and other organizations that are doing amazing boots-on-the-ground work are never going to see a penny of Measure H, and that is just heartbreaking,” Ms. Turner said. “That is not what they promised.”

During public comment, Rachel Forester hearkened back to the city’s barnstorming effort to save the Metrolink station, and noted a similar approach was needed here.

“I think that our unsheltered community members deserve more,” she said. “I think that this is more important than a train, and I think Claremont can rise up and can give that same sense of urgency and can fight just as hard for something that is more important.”

Former mayor Joe Lyons spoke twice at the council meeting. He first took to the podium to admonish Via Padova resident Ludd Trozpek for his viewpoint article in last week’s COURIER about the Future Financial Opportunities Committee, claiming that his opinion piece was “demeaning of our staff.”

Mr. Lyons noted that the city needs more revenue, but urged Claremonters “to simply ignore the comments of a non-citizen” in regards to looking at ways to increase city revenue. Mr. Trozpek has lived in Padua Hills, an unincorporated area in the city of Claremont, for 44 years.

On his second visit to the podium, Mr. Lyons, who now works as the president of the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness, lauded the city’s efforts and remarked that there was a “sense of disconnect” from LAHSA and too much focus on high-density homeless.

“A homeless person in Claremont is equally unsheltered and homeless as they would be in Pomona or downtown Los Angeles,” he said.

At one point, a homeless person who has been living in Claremont since December spoke during public comment, urging the council to approve the resolution.

“This is really something that I feel affects us all,” he said. “When you go home tonight please just remember me. I am an educated 45-year-old male, I have no criminal record, I’m fluent in seven languages, and it’s been challenging. I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight.”

The city also received updates on the Foothill Boulevard improvement project, the Polyphagous shot-hole borer and approved several new commissioners. More will be in next week’s edition.

—Matthew Bramlett


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