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Helter shelter

Nov 2, 2017 4:00 AM

Great news guys! San Luis Obispo County's 2008 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is working! Whoop!

According to the estimates that have yet to be put in an official report 10 months after the bi-annual Point In Time Homeless Count actually took place, the number of homeless folks counted on one day in January every two years has decreased by almost half since 2013!

In 2013, volunteers counted 2,186 people. In 2017, volunteers counted only 1,125. At this rate, we will have ended homelessness by 2018! Goals—amirite!

In Los Angeles County, there was a 23 percent increase in the number of homeless individuals from 2015 to 2017. In Alameda County, it's up 39 percent. California accounts for something like 28 percent of the homeless population of the country.

So what's up with this awesome county?

We can't count for shit.

The biggest thing this county has done to try to curb the homeless population in recent memory is the 50 Now program, which is great for the up to 50 people—considered the most vulnerable folks in the county—who actually qualify to be housed through the program. It really makes a gigantic difference in those lives.

But! And this is a big but: Those 50 do not 1,000 people make.

Don't fret, though, the Homeless Services Oversight Council has come up with some reasons why they might have sucked at figuring out an actual number this year. Rain!

Yes, but there's more.

They didn't use any data from the school districts to count homeless families. (WTF? How can we keep accurate numbers if we change how we are counting?) And, according to a report presented at the September council meeting, there was a "perception among homeless persons that enumerators [counters] were going to report their camp locations to the police—North County in particular."

Why would they think that? What's up with North County law enforcement? I think 1st District Supervisor John "I need one more deputy" Peschong and 5th District Supervisor Debbie "I really care about the homeless" Arnold have some splainin' to do. Arnold serves on the council as the SLO County Board of Supervisors' representative, but she also served as its chair until July, when she resigned because she had been the chair for longer than the council's bylaws allowed.

Come on local government! The county has to use these numbers to inform policy decisions, and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the proposed policy changes to allocate funding to help curb the issue. Sounds like classic trickle-down dysfunctional governing to me.

Wait, wait. Maybe we really are awesome. Let's look at the most important priority in that 10-year plan, and see what we've accomplished. Are you ready? "Priority 1: Facilitating Access to Affordable Housing." Ummm. Oops. Haven't done that one yet.

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (required by the state) estimated that 547 very-low- and low-income housing units needed to be built from 2014 to 2017. So far, we're still waiting for 458 of those to magically appear. But don't worry; the least vulnerable population is totally covered! We needed 563 above-moderate- income homes built, and we put up 853. Way to go SLO County developers!

Almost every single supervisor declared that the county was in a housing crisis at a meeting this past September. Everyone except for the Debster, who indicated that this county really isn't as bad off as everyone thinks. These pesky college kids working menial labor jobs throw off the census, she said. Yeah Deb, I get it, regular ol' non-students working menial labor jobs can totally afford the $600,000 homes in this county on their $30,000 a year or less paychecks.

Just like regular ol' Atascadero and Paso Robles can totally afford to build a new animal shelter, all on their own, without any help from the county. The two City Councils successfully mounted a coup against the county's plan to build a new regional animal shelter—a project the cities agreed to help fund earlier this year.

The $14.5 million regional shelter's price tag unnerved them, according to Paso City Councilmember Steve "the cat-man" Gregory. Well after spending $20,000 on consultants between the two North County cities in the last three weeks of October, the cities held emergency meetings in the middle of the day and moved to extract themselves from the contract. Whew! I bet they're saving a ton of money.

Ummm. Not quite. The new route they're choosing—which sounds like it's based in part on an experience Gregory had with a cat and the Calistoga animal shelter in April ("You can blame me," he told New Times)—may cost either less or more to build than what they would be obligated to contribute to the regional shelter. And it could possibly cost 10 percent less annually. But nothing's certain; those costs are more like guesstimates.

Way to go North County! That's a hell of a way to "protect" your constituents' hard-earned money—or not.

And they're screwing cities like Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, and SLO, which all wrote letters to Paso and Atascadero begging them to stick to the original plan. The cost of that regional shelter will now be split by two fewer cities and may have to be redesigned! The original project started almost three years ago! Now there's some government efficiency for you.

Sure sounds like trickle-down idiocy to me. Δ

The Shredder is a fan of trickle-down fondue fountains. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.