Thursday, August 25, 2016

Solano County offers mixed reply to grand jury homeless report

FAIRFIELD — A five-year countywide strategic plan to deal with the varied and complex issues of homelessness is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
The $75,000 plan, of which the public outreach portion is being conducted now, is a collaborative effort among the county and the seven cities.
In practical terms, the strategic plan is also the centerpiece to Solano County’s response to the 2015-16 grand jury report, which was critical of county leadership and what it described as a disconnected effort between regional and local efforts.
Without comment, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a mixed response to the grand jury report. The board disputes the report’s contentions about the lack of leadership and critique that little is being done. However, the county agrees that more is needed to be accomplished.
Gerald Huber, director of the county Department of Health and Social Services, said in a phone interview Monday that he believes efforts are being made to address the issues, and disagrees with the tenor of the grand jury report that those efforts would be served better under a single agency or a single administrator.
“We don’t agree necessarily that a different agency is needed,” Huber said. “I think that it is exactly the opposite.”
The county’s response to the grand jury largely points out the county’s efforts to support other programs such as shelters, transitional housing and support for substance abuse and mental illness programs, as well as support for elderly care.
The county responded to the eight findings and related recommendations directed specifically at the county efforts. The report has 20 findings in all, the others largely to be addressed by the various cities.
Huber emphasized the need to attack the problem from a preventive strategy, if only to keep more people from becoming chronically homeless. He also said the key to solving the largest share of the problem is to develop affordable permanent housing. If that can be accomplished, he said the population would be more stable and critical health and other services can be delivered more effectively.
The strategic plan, being compiled by HomeBase of San Francisco, is funded by the county and the cities. The county put up $37,500, while the cities chipped in amounts based on population with Vallejo paying about $10,953. The next largest share comes from Fairfield at $10,123, followed by Vacaville at $8,732, Suisun City at $2,665, Benicia at $2,544, Dixon at $1,746 and Rio Vista at $735.
August 24, 2016
Fairfield Daily Republic
By Todd R. Hansen

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