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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Readers comments 5-10-19

Homeless services in Claremont

Dear Editor:

Thank you, Connor Gaskin, for writing last week to inquire about what Claremont is doing to combat and prevent homelessness. I am writing to tell you about several new developments in this field.

Last year, Claremont applied for Measure H funding, in conjunction with Pomona and La Verne, and was granted $590,654 (for all three cities). For Claremont, the centerpiece of this grant award is to place an advocate, employed by Tri-City Mental Health Services, at Alexander Hughes Community Center, who will be the principal contact connecting Claremont’s homeless with available services. 

One of the major hurdles of our homeless referral system has been that the human services department, along with the police department, have been charged with helping homeless navigate the maze of service delivery.

Now one single person, stationed at one central location, accessible on one phone number, is handling this responsibility. He is at the Hughes Center’s front counter now and on call for this purpose. Claremont also secured funding for a shower program at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church.  

After learning that only $4 million in Measure H funding was awarded to cities (after the Board of Supervisors authorized $9 million) from this year’s Measure H budget, Claremont led the charge for a re-application process so that cities’ remaining unfunded programs could apply the balance of available Measure H funds. We are now in the process of re-applying for the balance of Measure H city-dedicated funding.

Claremont has also advocated for community-based organizations that do not currently meet the criteria for LA County’s homeless services vendor status. We are currently working with LAHSA and the county’s homeless initiative to expand funding qualification categories for local organizations so they can be eligible for LAHSA vendor funding. And we will continue to fight to make sure that Claremont gets its fair share of Measure H dollars.

Finally, the city’s human services department will have a dedicated person this summer whose primary responsibility is to review the successes and failures of implementation of the city homelessness plan. 

For more complete updates, you can view the city council meetings from September 25 and November 27, 2018, and January 22 and March 23, 2019. Video of each can be seen on the city website under “previous city council meetings.”

Affordable housing remains a major factor in the increase in homelessness in California. While LA County reports that over 20,000 people have been moved from homelessness to housing, we still do not have a net reduction in homelessness. But this can change. 

Tri-City recently passed its strategic plan for No Place Like Home Funds, which will direct Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) dollars to affordable housing. State laws regarding ADUs will also help increase affordable housing stock.

Finally, future housing developments must comply with the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance, which requires formulaic inclusion of affordable housing units for both purchase and rental. I hope this information is helpful, and please email me if you have any questions or comments: jleano@ci.claremont.ca.us.  

Jed Leano

Claremont City Council Member

 

The Green New Deal

Dear Editor:

Those who regard the Green New Deal as a joke are missing (willfully?) the background to the proposal: that global warming and associated climate change is an existential threat to the entire globe. 

That foundation for the GND is totally and fully proven: only if we very, very quickly take emergency action can we hope (and it is hope only) to avert the worst of the disaster that is already upon us. Rather than making jokes, spend some time seriously studying about what is presently taking place and will continue to take place.

To those who are aware of what is going on with the planet, but who think that we can’t do what is needed, the supporters of the GND remind us that during the Great Depression and the second World War,  which was the culmination of it, we did take joint action to lift us out of the economic collapse and to win the war.

The War Production Board was created and ran the economy during the war:  all our resources were put to use to ensure that we created the materials necessary to win the war. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation (plus the willingness to borrow extensively) provided the money that was required. The supporters of the GND point to those efforts and say “See it was done in an earlier emergency, it can be done again.”

But the key is accepting that global warming caused by fossil fuels is producing an unprecedented slowly unfolding disaster for us all.

Merrill Ring

Claremont

 

Are city planners listening?

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, April 30 the Los Angeles Times reported that the state of California Energy Commission described a “growing consensus that building electrification is the most viable and predictable path to zero-emission buildings.”

This simple idea, namely, that electricity from solar photovoltaic panels can easily provide the heat for cooking and hot water (and will eliminate CO2 pollution) should be incorporated as a mandate in the new “specific plan” for the Village South Project. This is just one step toward clean buildings that reflect Claremont values, and will help lead to “net zero” buildings which are designed from the very first drawings to be environmentally responsible. 

The dangers of ignoring the central issue of whether or not Village South buildings are truly sustainable cannot be overstated. Fifty percent of the oxygen each of us breathe in Claremont comes from the oceans. And CO2 pollution from coal, oil and natural gas is threatening all life in the  oceans. It might be that dumping 120 million tons of CO2 per day into the atmosphere (from all countries of the world)  is not very smart, if we want our grandchildren to breathe oxygen. 

It seems the current plan for Village South is to “suggest” and “encourage” sustainability, when what is needed is a set of hard mandates and strict performance standards. These mandates and standards should call for superior insulation of the buildings, above-average air tightness for each structure, and mandate the full exploitation of the solar potential of each roof.

Furthermore, the number and configuration of each solar PV array must be specified, as well as the means of storing solar generated power for use by each housing unit during non-sunlight hours. 

In addition, the efficiency of the means of heating water and air for each unit and air movement within each structure should be specifically detailed without exception.

Properly conceived and intentionally designed, each of these factors can contribute to a healthy and environmentally sound housing unit (or business space), regardless of size. However, if the energy equation is an afterthought or grafted onto the structure at a later date, the opportunity to create a forward thinking and cutting-edge “net zero” project will be lost.

For the past several weeks a working group of citizen volunteers has been convened specifically on the topic of achieving “net zero” for Village South. City officials have participated in these efforts. Have they been listening? Is there some “other” issue the community thinks is equally important? I don’t think so.

Our city administrators are wringing their hands to ensure they are “listening” to our community on Village South. If that is the case, the community has been speaking loud and clear. But to date the priority of “net zero” is not getting the attention it deserves. In all the sketches and designs prepared for public consumption, not a single solar panel is in sight! The voices of the community are speaking, but are our city officials listening?

As one environmental activist told me recently, “It seems that the planning for the Village South project is being conceived as if it was 2009 not 2019. We’re in a whole new world, and they don’t seem to get it.”

Peter L. Coye

Claremont

 

Living with Alzheimer’s

Dear Editor:

There are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, including more than 650,000 people aged 65 and older here in California.

My mother lived with Alzheimer’s disease for more than six years. It was exhausting, heartbreaking and financially straining. A person living with the disease will eventually need 24/7 care. At the end, my mother no longer recognized her youngest grandson. Precious memories are fading, making people living with the disease often no longer recognizing the closest members of their families.

More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, including 1,616,000 here in California. I am one of those Americans. As an Alzheimer’s advocate, it is my honor to represent them. I just returned from Washington, DC for the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum convening more than 1,200 advocates on Capitol Hill.

While there, I was fortunate to meet with Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-California 31) to explain why Congress must continue to prioritize legislative action for Alzheimer’s. Specifically, I urged Rep. Aguilar to support funding for increased research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as funding to implement the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, which Congress passed into law late last year.

I also asked for continuous support to improve the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, a bill that would improve needed education of physicians for Alzheimer’s and dementia care planning services through Medicare. Fewer than one percent of seniors living with the disease received the Medicare planning benefit in 2017.

And finally, I asked Mr. Aguilar to cosponsor the bipartisan Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act of 2019, which would allow individuals under the age of 60 diagnosed with the disease to access programs under the Older American Act. 

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth in California. Every 65 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Increased research funding would develop medical breakthroughs needed to prevent, slow or cure the disease. Alzheimer’s is America’s most expensive disease, with total costs nationwide on track to surpass a quarter of a trillion dollars ($290 billion) in 2019, an increase of nearly $13 billion since just from last year. 

Please join me in urging your tepresentative to invest in policies that address Alzheimer’s disease as the national public-health crisis it is. To learn more, visit alzimpact.org.

Angelika Pittet

Director, Enrichment Center

Community Senior Services

Claremont

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