Friday, June 17, 2016
Solano [County] grand jury faults county on homeless response
FAIRFIELD — Faulting a lack of strong leadership by Solano County’s top officials, the Solano County grand jury issued a report Thursday on how local governments need to make major changes in how they try to reduce homelessness.
The report – titled “Homeless: Omnipresent and Invisible?” – describes the current local efforts at dealing with the homeless problem as a “labyrinth network of solutions that only serve to muddy the waters further” and points to “a disconnect between regional and local government.”
The report says Solano County Health and Social Services estimates there are around 9,000 residents who report they are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The report faults recent efforts at helping the homeless by pointing out that nothing has been accomplished in meeting the need identified in 2008 for creating and funding more than 700 transitional year-round beds for the county’s homeless.
The grand jury also says the county needs to build a permanent local homeless shelter, a drop-in center, and board and care homes for elderly, disabled or mentally ill homeless residents.
County and city officials also need to agree on and implement a way to figure out the “true cost” to taxpayers of dealing with problems arising from the local homeless population.
The report recommends the county’s Department of Health and Social Services create a deputy director position who would oversee all homeless services with the county and fill long-term staff vacancies.
The report goes on to contrast some other counties’ robust and interactive websites, which inform users about homeless services when compared to Solano County’s anemic website, adding that the county does not even have a published guide listing available services and providers for the homeless.
Even something as simple as the county creating proxy mailboxes for the homeless would help.
The report faults the county’s failure to pay its fair share of the Community Action Partnership for the past 17 years, pointing out that the annual funding level of $86,750 has not been adjusted for inflation in that time. That change would make the current contribution around $123,000.
June 17, 2016
By Jess Sullivan