On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council voted to move forward with bridge housing and wrap-around services which would include 32 rooms at the Executive Inn on E 18th Street in Antioch.
The council voted 3-2 on both items with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and councilmembers Monica Wilson and Tamisha Torres-Walker in favor of the lease and wrap-around services. Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilmember Lori Ogorchock voted against.
Editors Note – although the agenda said the city would have the ability to purchase after the two-year lease, there was no purchase option and instead a lease could be extended for two (2), two-year periods. The staff report did have the correct wording. This was not caught until they were making the motion at the 5-hour and 15-minute mark of the meeting.
The 2-year lease is estimated at $1,168,000 per year for a total not to exceed value of $2,336,000, to be paid from the allocation of $2.6M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds) specified for this purpose by the City Council on April 12, 2022.
The city stated the responsibilities shall be borne by the property owner during the lease period. These include but are not limited to building maintenance and repairs, provision of utilities and landscape maintenance.
During public comments, Lacey Brown spoke out against the lease and the mitigation that needs to occur on the property from asbestos, lead and relocating people prior to work being done at the hotel.
“The lease terms are wildly unreasonable if not inappropriate in a multitude of ways,” said Brown. “I think there is some serious renegotiating that needs to happen if we are going to enter into a lease with this property owner. The cost is astronomical per square foot in an unreasonable sense. In addition to that, I think there has been a lack of public transparency in terms of the mitigation that needs to happen at this property considering all the asbestos in walls and floors. There is a significant amount of mitigation that needs to happen.”
Andrew Becker, called the lease terms crazy and stated the staff report left off findings of asbestos, lead and mold.
“$1.168 million dollars for a year. We are going to pay $100k a month in rent for that building,” stated Becker noting the building was built in the 1960’s and has asbestos in it, possibly lead and mold. “Why doesn’t the city come out and say that. We would like you to lease this asbestos mold building for $1.168 million.”
He accused the city of dragging its feet with Project Homekey to the point where its not “money in the bag anymore”. He noted that the square foot cost came out to over $100 at the hotel with the $100k per month lease.
“You wouldn’t find that kind of rent in the downtown financial district in San Francisco. But you will on E 18th in Antioch,” stated Becker. “What are we doing. I am offended because I live here and I pay taxes. That is my money too.”
He also argued how the property will be turned over within a 60-day period with 0 occupants and the placement of those individuals falls on the landlord.
“We are creating a place for housing by displacing people,” asked Becker. “As a city we are taking on the responsibly of housing people but we are telling people preemptively you find a house for those people. When I said we were spinning earlier, I meant it. What are we doing. I am not trying to sit up here and belittle the work anybody has done and I applaud and appreciate you all… $1.168 million, that modular community I invited you out to possibly develop on Delta Fair, we would have built it with that money and it wouldn’t have been just 32-units.”
Frank Sterling stated the council should consider moving onto using the funds on another project to help the homeless calling for a wise decision.
“People have worked very hard on it but if its coming to a point where it may not be the best thing, its time to maybe consider backing off it or doing something else,” suggest Sterling. “If its not going to be the use of the funds, look into doing something better with them. I don’t feel like there is any lost face in making a proper decision.”
Antioch Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore stated multiple studies were done prior to selecting this location to house the homeless in an HomeKey application. She shared they did do an asbestos, mold, and lead study and would not have to be addressed unless there was significant construction or damages associated with the property.
“The lease tonight is to occupy the site in its current state,” said Moore and the construction on the property would consist of fire sprinkler improvement and some ADA modifications while noting a punch list of items were created over a 15-year prior, but their timeline is much shorter only the clear and present identified conditions today are required prior to occupancy.
She also added the lease does not have an option to purchase and the city was not purchasing the site.
In terms of Antioch homeless, she noted the 2022 Point in Time Count showed Antioch had a total of 342 homeless saying the larger numbers referenced by members of the community were not true.
Councilmember Monica Wilson asked about families with children and their eligibility with this site.
Moore stated from the start of this process, they focused on unsheltered adults and with the companion issues, co-location with families with unsheltered with single individuals or pair individuals who have lived outdoors, they are not compatible.
“This is not a site set up for families, it’s a site for adults only,” stated Moore.
Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated that was the direction given by council stating they had been clear to working to house those who have been chronically homeless, particular at the encampments and the source of complaints are not people living in cars—its people living in visible encampments.
“Our direction to staff has always been, for this moment, it has been all about the encampments,” stated Thorpe.
Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker asked for clarification of asbestos and mold.
Moore explained they were included due to possible future actions with the site with HomeKey and the construction required. She said there is no construction outside of sprinkler installation that will be necessary. If there was an issue, it would invoke the treatment of asbestos or mold which would only happen if there was a threshold of construction that is reached which is not required in the lease.
Walker confirmed people would not be placed in mold filled rooms. Moore confirmed they would not as those issues would have to be addressed prior to moving people in.
Walker also asked for an explanation regarding the ideas around safety.
Moore explained after a site visit, they installed a fence to ensure a more secure facility as opposed to just anyone parking on the lot. There will also be ongoing monitoring of people on and off the property with staff trained to handle disputes with conflict resolution. Ultimately, police calls could be placed if needed.
“For the record, I have not always been a major supporter of the selection of this site because it was selected originally by people who do not live in the community to do this work and my concerns were around the neighborhood already is unsafe for the residents there,” said Walker. “I feel like the project has evolved over time to incorporate a substantial amount of wrap-around services and a commitment to 24-hour on site programs and watchful eye with assistance by the poli department as needed. This is a two-year pilot program.”
Walker argued that the city probably spends a similar amount of money chasing people from corner to corner and moving encampment. She also stated the provider anticipates a 72% success rate for permanent housing. She also said there are other opportunities to help with homelessness including the homeless trailers and a safe parking lot.
“I am going to support this tonight,” said Walker.
Councilmember Lori Ogorchock thanked staff for their efforts but noted residents in the area are not happy about this project.
“There is only 32 rooms in this hotel and when you gave the number of 342 homeless, that leaves more than 300 on the streets and they are still going to be on the streets and moved from spot to spot. So I personally think this money could be better spent on a HomeKey Project on Delta Fair,” stated Ogorchock. “I’ve been saying that for a long time… and put as many funds into getting the mini-homes and putting them on that lot.”
Ogorchock also noted that if a room sustained major vandalism, it could trigger a major disturbance and they would have to address the asbestos, mold or lead.
Moore said if major work was to be done, a licensed contractor would be obligated to address asbestos, paint or mold.
Mayor Thorpe stated the idea behind this project started two-years ago and spoke about how much the cost was chasing people from corner-to-corner.
“Our biggest frustration was and remains to this day is we are chasing people from corner-to-corner,” said Thorpe. “The chief concern at the time was there was no place for them to go and they were not wrong. There were no homeless shelters in east Contra Costa County.”
Thorpe continued by saying he was excited they got to this point and when they started this it was never absent of any services.
“The number 30 keeps getting thrown around, its not like its going to be 30 people for the whole year, its going to be multiple people and our goal is going to be over 90 individuals served in a year,” stated Thorpe. “That is why its called bridge housing with the concept we stabilize people for a few months and then work with them to get to permanent housing. That is the goal.”
Thorpe said he was the one who proposed the Executive Inn to then councilmember Joy Motts and then the professionals confirmed it was a viable site.
“Where we are at today came from folks who live in the community. Where we are at today is not absent of the expertise that we paid for from Focus Strategies, so this was very thoughtful. Some people may not agree, their goals are different than the cities goals. Our goals are to focus on encampments and this is the fastest way to get people in and dismantle these encampments. It doesn’t mean everybody is going to go, but this is a key component to housing people,” explained Thorpe. “We are focusing on the people who are the most difficult to get into services because they have been chronically homeless for years.”
Thorpe called it taking on a difficult challenge that was difficult.
Mayor Thorpe then made the motion to approve the 2-year bridge housing lease at the Executive Inn. The council approved the item in a 3-2 vote with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting against.
Support Services Approved
In a second item relating to the Executive Inn, the council voted Tuesday to enter into an agreement with Bay Area Community Services (BACS) for supportive services associated with the City’s Non-Congregate Bridge Housing Program. The total not to exceed expenditure is $2,563,990 over a two year period to be paid from $3.1M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds).
The City of Antioch aims to establish a Non-Congregate Bridge Housing (NCBH) Program. The goals of the program are
- provide participants with a safe place tostay
- connect participants with community, mainstream, and personal resources basedon individual need; and
- assist participants in transitioning to more stable or permanent
The NCBH Program will be overseen by the City of Antioch, in alignment and coordination with Contra Costa County’s homelessness response system. Participation in the Contra Costa County Continuum of Care (CoC) and Coordinated Entry System will allow the provider to leverage permanent housing resources available through the CoC.
NCBH will serve adult households (without children) in the City of Antioch who are unhoused, particularly adults who are currently staying in outdoor locations, in a vehicle, or in other unsheltered situations and places not meant for human habitation. The primary source of referrals for NCBH will be via City’s Departments. This program is intended to serve individuals who are currently unsheltered
According to Moore, she told the council on Tuesday the program would target adults 18 and older with each room being occupied by 1 or 2 adults with no minors allowed in the program with a capacity to serve 45-adult participants at any one time. There is no fixed time limit on stay, but participants are anticipated to stay 120 days to 180 days.
During public comments, Lacey Brown called the comments by the council offensive regarding community members having different goals. She explained the council and community doesn’t have different goals, rather it was the city who moved away from helping more people to helping less.
Becker spoke again citing the cost are what they are, but his issue was with the scale down in terms of number of people being helped.
“If we had taken that same program and moved it to a larger community, we would be better off spending the money. That was the problem,” said Becker.
He also accused the mayor of sitting at the dais and not providing the full story while he doesn’t actually engage but instead posts on Facebook but will not engage or sit down with him.
“You will respond to certain community members and I would ask you would respond to me after this comment so will you sit down with me an engage because I have developers who are ready now. That Delta Fair project, Eden Housing is ready to go,” stated Becker. “They were turned down in Brentwood, they want to come to Antioch…. You won’t answer the phone. You wont set meetings. I don’t want to sound paranoid but I am concerned about the direction city staff and management is given around working with me because Mr. Johnson (City Manager) will not set a meeting to save my life”
Becker stated the mayor said he would engage on June 20, 2020 on Facebook and has not responded since. He stated Ogorchock takes his calls. Torres-Walker takes his calls. Zoomed with Wilson. Had coffee with Barbanica.
“So don’t sit up here and say you fought for these changes. Where was I 8-years ago, 4-years ago. I was expecting someone like you in your position to stand up and to do the right thing. And when I didn’t see those proper solutions come to fruition, I stepped in and did what any community member and advocate should do and tried to engage and bring solutions,” stated Becker. “You have stonewalled me at every single round of the bend and at what cost. My cost? No, I live in the same home. Its not my housing I am fighting for, its your residents. So you will not stand up here and tell my community that other people in this room have other goals that don’t fall in line at the city. You will not do that to me after 2 and a half years of fighting.”
Atticus Finch said the city was spending too much money to help just 30 people noting there was more than 300 homeless people and said that number was undercounted and Antioch has more homeless than the number show. He accused the council of being so far off reality that they might as well bring back a Blockbuster store or even a pager store.
Councilmember Ogorchock asked if this area was a drug free area and if they were allowed to use drugs in the room.
Moore explained this was a “harm reduction” site and program.
Jonathan Russell, Chief Strategy Officer with Bay Area Community Services (BACS) said individuals are not permitted to be using or distribution substances on site. Folks who may struggle with those needs or substances, they are simply not barred from the program. They work to focus on harm reduction and reduce the causes.
“You can come in with an addiction problem, but you cannot use there, but you are going to help that person no matter what and they are not barred from it because they have an addiction,” confirmed Ogorchock.
Staff and the consultant confirmed stating they would work with them to address the addiction.
Mayor Thorpe reiterated this began years ago with people who showed up and said there was nothing for Antioch’s unhoused community.
“There will be instances where our goals are different, how we approach things will be different. You may not like that but that is just the reality. How we have chosen to go about dealing with our encampments in the city of Antioch is through this route and so I know we will be able to change folks lives through the touch of services that will be providing,” stated Thorpe. “The easiest thing to do is show up and yell and scream and that is fine, people are going to do that. The real work is done by folks who are committed to this daily, that is not to dispute anybody else’s work, but on the city side we have been working on this for years.”
The council then voted to approve the item in a 3-2 vote with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting against.
- Under current proposal, city of Antioch would pay approximently $2.46 million per year for Executive Inn facility.
- Nov. 2021 – Thorpe announces $300k to be spent on Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan for Homeless.
- July 2020 – Thorpe announced his homeless housing proposal at the Executive Inn. At that time, he estimated the annual cost would be approximately $1 million for 32-rooms
During the February 2021 City Council Meeting, the City Council agreed to move forward with an RFP for Bridge Housing for Homeless. At that meeting, a report was provided by Jazmin Ridley, unhoused resident coordinator presented the item which outlined a timeline which include:
- October 2018 – Shelter Crisis declared pursuant to CA SB 850
- March 2019 – Council Hosted Homeless Encampment Taskforce Panel
- April 2019 – Homeless Encampment Ad-hoc Committee Formed
- August 2019 – City Council recommends Unhoused Resident Coordinator Position
- September 2019 – Unhoused Resident coordinator Position Classification Created
- February 2020 – Focus Strategies began work as Unhoused Resident Coordinator Consultant
- April 2020 – Transitional Housing Ad-hoc Committee formed
- May 2020 – Project Roomkey Program at Motel 6 opened
- May 2020 – RV Housing Opportunity Program (RP Released/no contract awarded)
- October 2020 – Motel Occupancy Agreement Program to Shelter Unhoused Residents (RFP Released)
- October 2020 – Focus Strategies Study
- November 2020 – CDBG-CV3 Fund Recommendations and Substantial Agreement
- December 2020 – Unhoused Resident Coordinator Hired