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Five-Year Plan to Reduce Homelessness will go to City Council for approval

Committee proposal could come in for just under $8.5 million in state's Homelessness, Housing and Prevention block grant funding for 2022-2023.

A homeless encampment along railroad tracks in Ward 6.

On Wednesday, June 8, the Riverside City Council’s Housing and Homelessness Committee met to review and hear public comments about a draft version of the city’s Five-Year Plan to Reduce Homelessness.  Committee chair Erin Edwards, who represents Ward 1, led the meeting, which included detailed staff presentations on the 28-page proposal.

In the presentation, Homeless Solutions Office Dr. Lorissa Villareal described Riverside’s homeless community: 587 people who are homeless and unsheltered within the city limits, living on the streets or in tents and encampments such as the Santa Ana Riverbottom and other areas throughout Riverside. Another 337 are homeless but sheltered, even temporarily. The information was gathered through the 2022 Point in Time Count (P.I.T.C.) conducted annually by city staff and volunteers.

The Five-Year Plan was developed through a series of task force and community meetings, with feedback gathered at each stage. The plan is made up of six “pillars,” or goals, to address homelessness on different fronts: preventing homelessness, increasing the housing stock in the city, including the amount of affordable housing, increasing the availability of shelter beds, building a coordinated infrastructure, increasing services such as health, mental health, and substance disorder treatment, and expanding the public’s awareness and understanding of homelessness and housing issues.

Chair Erin Edwards gave staff feedback on the proposal, suggesting changes and revisions for the team to incorporate into the draft.

Public comments were mostly positive, with concerns raised only about the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court provision of the proposal, a controversial measure that allows the state to provide “court-ordered treatment” to mentally ill people living on the street who are judged as being unable to care for themselves.

Edwards and the other two Housing and Homelessness committee members, Clarissa Cervantes, representing Ward 2 and Gabby Plascencia, who represents Ward 5, voted unanimously to forward the proposal to the full City Council for a vote on June 28.

If approved by the council, the proposal will be submitted for funding through the state’s $1 billion Homelessness, Housing and Prevention (HHAP) block grant program. Riverside’s portion of the block grant funding for its five-year plan is approximately $8,433,000. The HHAP block grant is included in the budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year currently being debated in Sacramento.