Item A-9 on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda looked routine and even boring to the nonbureaucratic eye, with its talk of “declaring surpluses” and “approving ground leases.”
But it was in fact a significant step forward in the county’s effort to address its homeless problem, according to Supervisor Chairman Adam Hill, who has been a leading advocate of helping the county’s 4,000 homeless.
“Everything is starting to fall into place,” Hill said, although the county still needs to come up with probably more than $6 million to build the all-purpose center for homeless services, and it may not be ready for occupancy for years.
When it is built, the center will allow the county to get children “out of cots in churches and into beds,” said Dee Torres, director of homeless services of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County.
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The county will be able to “treat children as children,” she said.
Torres said new numbers being tabulated about the county’s homeless may end up showing that almost half of them are children.
Under the agreement, approved Tuesday, the county declared 1.1 acres of its land surplus, and then entered into a lease agreement with the CAPSLO.
Behind the technical language in the agreement is an ambitious plan to create a homeless services “campus” at the site. It will abut the Department of Social Services building at the intersection of Prado Road and South Higuera Street.
When it is built — and that date is still years away — it will “offer comprehensive services in one location, including overnight shelter, day services and case management,” according to a report from General Services Director Janette Pell to the Board of Supervisors.
“The largest advantage of this site is its location,” Pell wrote. The homeless often rely on the DSS, which would be next door to the new structure, and the Prado Day Center is nearby, as is bus service.
An enumeration in 2009 tallied 3,839 homeless in the county, many of them children.