Grand Jury: No 'Silver Bullet' to Solving Homeless, Offers Strategies

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With an overwhelming rate of homelessness in Humboldt County, the civil grand jury released a report recommending four key strategies. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • With an overwhelming rate of homelessness in Humboldt County, the civil grand jury released a report recommending four key strategies.

The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury, a board of citizens impaneled for a year to look into governmental issues, released a report today making recommendations on how to address the region’s overwhelmingly high homeless rate.

The 38-page report looks back at the recommendations from the consulting group Focus Strategies that led the city of Eureka and the county of Humboldt to adopt resolutions supporting a Housing First approach to addressing homelessness in 2016.

The report states that it will take years for the affordable housing stock to catch up with the current demand and, in the interim, “our current and future unsheltered homeless will need somewhere legal to stay, both day and night.”

“While creating more usable shelter is necessary, speeding up the rate at which affordable housing is generated will go a long way to address our homeless crisis,” the summary states. “Local jurisdictions working on their Housing Elements are including creative and forward-thinking solutions to encourage production of affordable housing. Local government should incentivize implementing these solutions.”

While noting in a press release that there is no “silver bullet that will eradicate homelessness in Humboldt County,” the grand jury puts forward 10 recommendations that “if implemented, could significantly improve the quality of life for many of the County’s residents—both homeless and housed—while the affordable housing crisis persists.”

These recommendations include that the county board of supervisors revise the housing element to provide for shelter solutions and affordable housing, work to reduce barriers at existing shelters (like accommodating partners and significant others, providing space to store personal property) and find an ongoing funding source for the Housing Trust Fund. Additionally, the grand jury recommends expanding the role of the county’s Homeless Solutions Committee to include both looking at shelter projects and affordable housing, that the city and county work together to find suitable locations for both a homeless day center and a supervised safe parking program, that the county and city resume monthly meetings on shared issues related to homelessness and that they both work to develop plans to provide financial incentives for homeowners to build accessory dwelling units to house very-low income residents on their properties.

Read the full report here.

Editor's note: This story was updated from a previous version to clarify that a quote included came from a Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury press release, not the full report, and to include more information about the grand jury's recommendations.

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