Home Antioch Brentwood Police Call Antioch $300k Spend on Homeless Housing a Band-Aid Approach

Brentwood Police Call Antioch $300k Spend on Homeless Housing a Band-Aid Approach

by ECT

During the City of Brentwood Strategic Plan Workshop Wednesday, Brentwood Police were asked about homeless in which they called Antioch’s plan to spend $300k on homeless housing a band-aid approach.

On Tuesday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference announced that through the Transitional Housing Ad-Hoc Committee, they will introduce the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan—a $300k program to purchase 15-rooms within the Delta Landing Interim Housing (formally Motel 6) in the City of Pittsburg.

The exchange Wednesday occurred when councilmember Susannah Meyer asked about the homeless issue in Brentwood after many residents have reached out stating they are being impacted by dangerous behavior and unsanitary conditions.

She referenced Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s press conference about designating $300k to reserve rooms when the Pittsburg Hotel reopens. She asked if that solution would work in Brentwood.

“I don’t know if that is an appropriate fix for Brentwood. I don’t know if Antioch collaborated with Pittsburg to designate those rooms but wanted to bring it up and wanting to know feedback of how to explore something like that and determine if its an appropriate fix,” asked Meyer.

Captain Doug Silva, who is interim police chief, replied.

“I look at that in a way as a band-aid,” said Silva. “I think we are all trying to take a deeper dive and a very deep look into what is the root cause that put these people in the streets. When I show you our roster of 37 folks, I am sorry to say alcohol abuse and substance abuse appears at the root cause of their situation.”

He called for wrap around services to be sustainable along with on-going monitoring to keep people in the services saying that without them it would not succeed.

“If the council to chose to spend money on a program like that, then I would want to make sure we were going to conduct a follow up to make sure that the money was being spend wisely,” explained Silva. “I understand that hotel program is county run. So Antioch is going to dedicate some funds to reserve rooms, I don’t know how that works. Its in Pittsburg but the county is ultimately deciding how they will allocate these rooms based on where people live.”

He further explained just because they may be camping in Antioch, didn’t mean they were Antioch residents–it is currently unclear how Antioch vetted its residents who they placed in the Executive Inn on E 18th until the Pittsburg location opens.

Meyer agreed saying Antioch reserving rooms at a county facility had something missing in the conversation but was willing to explore due to the wrap-around services being offered as long as they could monitor the success rate.

Silva said they hope their app, which is soon to be launched, will create some successes versus just throwing money at a problem.

“You are providing them a place to stay temporary but then it doesn’t pan out because they don’t take advantage of the services and nobody to ensure they are taking advantage of the services they need,” said Silva.

Councilwoman Karen Rarey stated the police department is already out offering services and the homeless are turning them down.

“If we invested $300k to reserve a room, how often do you get one of our homeless to say yes I want to get off the streets, yes I want to, what percentage would you say we have been able to get into a shelter,” asked Rarey.

“The percentage that I have contacted out of our 37 who wanted to get off the streets, who sincerely wanted to get off the streets, I am going to say zero unfortunately,” said Silva noting he gets a lot of “lip service” of people who say it but do not actually take them up on the offer for services.

Councilwoman Jovita Mendoza asked if he thought anyone was on the cusp, then they should consider funding but if there is no one interested then they should hold off.

Meyer stated she was not urging Brentwood to spend $300k, but wanted to ask about the solution because Antioch had responded to a homeless person who was struck by a train, and Brentwood would have a different conversation.

“I agree with Captain Silva, if we can’t address the root cause, the additions, the mental illness then there is no point in finding anybody housing,” said Meyer who would be more open to proven solutions.

Silva pointed out that within their upcoming App, it would help them better determine if someone is on the cusp—then we want to grab them and follow up to get them into the program.

Police Chief Tom Hansen chimed in explaining that during COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom provided funds through Project Homekey which was a project in Pittsburg.

Hansen explained during a meeting he asked the question regarding wrap-around service successes.

“They had no numbers for us, they had nothing, so what do we do, pay $52 a night to put somebody in there for a night,” stated Hansen. “I could go out there right now and ask our homeless if they would take a room for a night and they would say yea I would take a hotel for a night and they will go and have fun but I don’t think our citizens want to pay for a free hotel for a night just to pay for a free hotel for a night.”

Hansen said he hoped people did not think he was sensitive to homeless but he and Captain Silva go out on a regular basis to touch base with the homeless.

“We beg them, we plead with them and we tell them we will drive you to the county resources to our citizens already pay taxes for,” said Hansen. “You show me any program that is successful in dealing with our homeless on the street and then I am all in and I will bring it to you. But this is bigger and this is a state issue.”

Hansen continued.

“We need mental health, we need rehab help and that is what we need. We don’t need shelter,” stated Hansen. “Shelter is a pronged approach to this, part of the pronged approach. We are closing Susanville Prison up north, lets turn that into a facility to deal with this. Get people out, that are out on the street and can’t take care of themselves that are going to victimize somebody out there simply because they are criminally ill or criminally insane.”

He again called it a state issue because up and down the state people are on the street who need 24-hour care which they don’t have.

“What we are doing to our homeless on the streets of California should be a sin and should be breaking the law because we are not doing it for them and shelter is not the answer,” explained Hansen. “We have been trying to deal with his problem for over 10-years, dealing with it as a shelter issue and you tell me how that is working out for our communities.”

Rarey stated the problem has gotten worse since they shutdown Agnew’s State Hospital in the 1980’s who said $52 times 365 is almost $20k a year to house 1-person.

“What about the county and just took Measure X money and a lot of it was put into mental health services and how will it help us in East County and in Brentwood,” asked Rarey.

Silva stated he had not seen the plan or staffing levels and once they have that data they will know how it will help.

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Jack Toffmore Dec 1, 2021 - 4:21 pm

I’m glad Brentwood PD is not obfuscating the root causes of this, which is People unwilling or unable to take responsibility for themselves. I’m not a fan of criminalizing homelessness but being homeless should not preclude one from societal norms of behavior.

Jennifer Golden Dec 1, 2021 - 7:03 pm

Salt Lake City had a similar problem several tears back. Valley Behavioral Health (a local public mental health service provider) stepped in and designed a residential substance abuse facility that provided the wraparound supports and services (drug court liaison, therapy, 12-step, case management, life skills, housing, transportation, rehab, job skills training, and step down outpatient services for those with mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic homelessness. I was one of the initial home supervisors and this program continues to flourish (monetarily driven by Medicaid). May be something to look into.

Dan Dec 1, 2021 - 7:40 pm

I I’m so proud of BPD. The officers are handling the Homeless situation as best as they can. I see them daily. Truth be told I hope the city keeps up the pressure on the drug and Alcohol addicted and force them into a state run program to better their lives. If not and they don’t want help then pass a ZERO
Loitering Ordinance. I’ll be more than happy to pay even more taxes to keep OUR city beautiful. Unbelievable that with help wanted signs all over town you can’t get a job and off public assistance once your Clean.

STREET-SWEEPER Dec 1, 2021 - 8:38 pm

Where can I wait in line for free housing, food and crack? I’m starting to think working hard for my own things is overrated.

Robert C. Dec 2, 2021 - 9:03 am

Capt Silva’s comments are on the mark: substance abuse (accompanied by mental illness) are indeed at the root of the homeless epidemic. It is NOT high housing prices, heartless landlords or our “evil capitalist system” as the progressive left likes to claim. It’s no accident that the closure of most state mental hospitals has coincided with the rise in homelessness.

Those who cannot careful for themselves and function independently should absolutely be offered help. Those who refuse it and remain on the streets should face mental health screening and possible involuntary placement in treatment facilities. If that seems harsh, is it any less harsh and futile than the status quo?

Nick P Dec 3, 2021 - 8:54 am

Jennifer Golden, Salt Lake City looks to actually solve the problem and not just throw band aids at it. Most city and State leaders would rather hand out blankets and sandwiches so that people are beholding to them. Seems that the increased amounts of Meth on the streets is continuing to make the problem grow.

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