Housing & Homelessness
Today, December 3, 2018 is move-in day at the new homeless shelter located near the Human Services Building, on Frank Wilson Drive. We will be closing the doors on the Darrah School House by this evening. The School is being left in better shape than we found it, with professional cleaning, a new hot water heater, window repair, upgraded fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and some fresh paint.
The new shelter includes two large tents with interior space for up to 32 clients and additional tent pads for individual tents. We have averaged 20 participants per night at the Darrah School facility. There are 3 Porta Potties with hand washing stations available. Electricity will be provided 24 hours per day, via a generator. Electric heaters are located in the large tents and have proven to keep the tents warm during the past cold spell. Meals and showers will continue to be available via the Heritage House.
The installation will meet the intent of the Governor's Homeless Emergency Proclamation and bring Mariposa County in line with the 9th Circuit ruling on providing emergency shelters. A Red Cross trained shelter manager has been hired to oversee the shelter operation and the facility is staffed 24/7.
If you have any questions about the shelter, please call health and Human Services Agency at (209) 966-2000.
On November 5th, the Board of Supervisors conducted a Special Board Meeting to determine whether to declare a Shelter Crisis as it pertains to homelessness. By declaring a Shelter Crisis, California Counties and Cities are able to operate with more flexibility when choosing immediate solutions to address homelessness.
The meeting had much public input and many good questions. We would like to share the answers to those questions on this page. We will use this page to continue to share information about the County’s Response to homelessness.
On November 13th, the Board of Supervisors will convene at 2 pm in the Board Chambers to consider approving both a proposal for a temporary, one-year emergency shelter, as well as a funding proposal for a more long-term emergency shelter program.
If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact your County Supervisor or the Health and Human Services Director, Chevon Kothari, at email@example.com or 966-2000.
Questions & aNSWERS:
1. Why did the community hear about the emergency shelter last minute?
Although the County always strives to have a public process, there were several factors that led to the establishment of an emergency homeless shelter in short order before a public engagement process could be held. Some of these factors and the timeline are included below:
Community complaints about homeless encampments in the town area came to the County in September
County compliance staff issued notices to the homeless individuals in those encampments.
On October 2nd, homeless community members came before the Board of Supervisors to discuss concerns about lack of adequate shelter/services.
On October 3rd, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Director and 3 other Department Heads met with 9 members of the homeless community to gain further clarity on the situation. It was discovered that individuals were living in unsanitary conditions and that there may be health related concerns.
In researching options, ordinances and funding, it was discovered that Martin vs. Boise 9th Appellate Court Decision (which was issued in September 2018) could put the County at risk if a homeless emergency shelter is not provided.
It was also discovered that Counties and Cities around California were given the option to declare a “Shelter Crisis” under Govt. Code 8698, which would provide flexibility for developing quick solutions to serve the homeless.
On October 26th, a Homeless Task Force was convened to discuss options for moving solutions forward.
Due to the timing of Board Meetings, the Board would not be convening for a regular meeting again until November 13th
In doing research, it was discovered that a Health Emergency would allow the County to act quickly while putting solutions in place.
On October 30th, at the Board Strategic Planning Meeting, the County Health Officer notified the Board that due to unhealthy sanitary conditions and increasingly cold night temperatures, he would be declaring a Health Emergency on October 31st so a Shelter solution could be found.
On November 2nd, after research of several properties, a temporary (less than 30 day) shelter was set up at a vacant county building until a more permanent option could be found and approved by the Board.
On November 5th, the Board had a Special Meeting to deliberate whether to declare a Shelter Crisis. They voted 5-0 to declare.
On November 13th, the board will hear two proposals - one for an interim one-year solution, and one for a long-term solution to homelessness.
2. Is using the Darrah Road School House a violation of Building Code 12.16.090?
The Emergency Health Declaration issued on 10-31-18, followed up by the Shelter Crisis Declaration approved by the Board on 11-5-18, allows the County to be flexible with local and state building and planning codes in order to mitigate the impacts of a crisis. Health and safety standards will followed to ensure participant and community safety.
3. Is there a violation of County Code 8.25.030 related to smoking near public buildings?
The staff have doubled checked the placement of the smoking area at the shelter and have moved it to be in compliance with this code.
4. Could the Human Services Building be used for a Homeless Shelter?
There is currently no available space to use in the building and it is used by the public and by staff during all business hours. HHSA Director did inform board that at their direction, this option could be further explored, however, it is currently utilized at its maximum capacity.
5. How does the Shelter impact Sheriff’s Department and Probation?
Extra patrols and support have been placed at and around the shelter to ensure community safety. This is done through overtime opportunities and does not impact their ability to respond to the community. If this was to happen, a private security company could be hired.
6. How does the Point in Time Count occur, and where did we get the number 55 homeless?
Every January, on a specific day that is chosen by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development staff from HHSA and our community partners reach out to find and survey individuals who meet HUD’s definition of Homelessness (Shelters, cars, tents, outside) The last homeless point in time county in Mariposa was conducted in January of 2018. We are getting ready to do our next one in January.
7. What about communication at Darrah Road, where there is limited or no cell service?
The County has turned on the Landline. There is also a satellite phone and radios on-site for backup.
8. How do we support the homeless community in giving back?
Strategies are being explored for job opportunities and community volunteer opportunities to assist the homeless in giving back to the community. Many have expressed interest in doing this. We will keep the community informed of this when it occurs.
9. Why can’t we use Springhill School which is currently vacant?
Springhill is not a county owned property, but a School District Property. There are currently well/water issues there and the School Board is exploring another use for the property at this time.
10. How about using Catheys Valley Community Hall?
McKay Hall in CV is currently being rented on an intermittent basis for events. Darrah Road School House was not being utilized when the decision to place a temporary shelter there was made.
11. Did the shelter displace the Kiwanis Preschool?
The Kiwanis Preschool on Darrah Road had closed down when they were not able to retain a teacher/director. Additionally, around that same time, there were tree mortality issues in the area that needed to be mitigated. The Preschool has voiced that they would like to re-open and are waiting to hire staff. By the time they are able to, the shelter should be out of the building.
12. Are there other County owned buildings available?
There are no county owned buildings that are currently available or suitable for this purpose.
13. What about Fire Safety?
The staff have done a Fire Watch Declaration to ensure there are smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors. There is no fire allowed on site including camp fires, cook stoves, use of grills, or small heaters in tents. HHSA has placed staff on site 24/7 to ensure safety. Additional patrols by the Sheriff’s Department are also in place.
14. What is the intake process and what are the rules for participants?
Participants complete a full intake with information about their background, criminal history and a health screening. The health screening includes review of medical history, TB Tests, offering of vaccinations (Hepatitis, Flu Shot, etc.), and linkages to ongoing medical care when necessary. Additionally, HHSA and Probation are working closely to identify potential offenders who may be participating in the shelter and to ensure safety for all residents.
The rules include:
Any violence or abusive behavior will not be tolerated
Our shelter is a weapon-free zone; as such, no weapons will be tolerated on the shelter site or property. If you have a weapon and need to store it in a safe location, please contact shelter staff.
No use or possession of drugs and alcohol on shelter premises or property
No sexual activity on shelter premises or property
No visitors who are not participants of the shelter will be permitted at the shelter premises or property
In an effort to preserve privacy of our participants, do not reveal the identities of other shelter participants
Prescription medications will be checked in
Quiet time will be observed between 10pm-6am
Smoking is permitted in designated areas only
No leaving the property once you have checked in
15. How long will it take to move the shelter to a more permanent location?
The shelter will move out of Darrah Road Schoolhouse no more than 30 days from the time of the November 5th meeting, although every attempt will be made to move it sooner.