Yreka seeks to fund services for homeless youth and an emergency shelter
California adopts ‘endemic’ coronavirus policy
California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a state’s first shift to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan unveiled on Thursday emphasizes prevention and rapid responses to outbreaks over mandates. (February 17)
Yreka will move forward with plans to develop services for homeless youth, as well as an emergency shelter for the city’s homeless population to use on dangerously cold or hot days.
The city will pursue a grant application to participate in the state’s permanent local housing allowance program. It helps fund affordable housing, including for homeless people. The goal of the plan drawn up by city leaders is to target homeless youth between the ages of 13 and 25.
Yreka is eligible for some $612,000 in state grants, which will likely be combined with similar funds available to neighboring towns in Siskiyou County, bringing the total to about $2.3 million, to be used over a period of five years.
“I want to urge council to direct these resources to the youth of our community,” Sarah Springfield, executive director of Youth Empowerment Siskiyou (YES), told city council at the February 15 meeting. YES offers services to young people in foster care or at risk.
“We have a better chance of having meaningful impacts, so people can get out of homelessness,” Springfield added.
Council evaluates partnership options
Partnering with YES – or a similar service provider for homeless youth – is one of three options the council is considering. Another option would be to transfer the funding to Siskiyou County for use by its social service programs. And another would be to partner with an organization like Beacon of Hope Gospel Rescue Mission to support an all-ages shelter.
Related: Siskiyou County Homeless Services Dominates Yreka Town Council Conversations
However, Beacon of Hope did not seem interested in participating in the state grant program, said Yreka Town Manager Jason Ledbetter.
“They’re not interested in grants, based on the terms of the grant,” Ledbetter told the council.
“We don’t really know of a provider in Yreka, or in Siskiyou County, at this time, for a shelter program,” Ledbetter added, essentially ruling out the idea of hosting an all-ages shelter, a conclusion. which disappointed councilor Joan. Smith Freeman.
“For me, I’d rather have a balance,” Freeman said. “I agree. Anything we can do to protect our youngsters, I totally agree with that.
“I think we need to look carefully at what we can do to help the rest of the homeless population,” she added.
The city has other options for addressing the older homeless population, Ledbetter said. But those plans would not be part of this particular round of grants.
“There are options.” Ledbetter told the board, as he urged members to seek “those options and partnerships.”
The tent could become an emergency weather shelter
The city council is also moving forward with the establishment of an emergency shelter for homeless people in the community on cold nights or dangerously hot days. The project will likely involve the purchase of a large tent, which could be erected quickly. It would also involve forming a partnership – more than likely with the county – to provide a location to erect the tent and social services.
“I’m not suggesting we do it alone,” Ledbetter told the board. “I’m suggesting that we get a partnership, really, primarily with the county who have health specialists who can be on hand, to deal with the issues.”
Some of the “problems” can range from drug use to other problems, he added.
“I think if we partner up, and if we put up a $20,000 tent, and we rely on them (Siskiyou County) to staff it, I think that’s a reasonable request,” said said Ledbetter.
“I think it’s a great idea to partner with the county,” Freeman said.
The tent currently being explored would be approximately 20ft by 20ft, capable of withstanding 90mph winds and snow loads that would meet local requirements. The tents are expandable and can include an inner liner to better protect against cold and heat. It would have a connection for a heating and air conditioning system.
The city was considering using the Yreka Community Center space on Oregon Street, but began exploring the tent concept at the suggestion of community member Lorenzo Love at a recent council meeting.
Skip Descant is a freelance journalist. He writes for newspapers in California, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. He lives in downtown Yreka.