Homeless have stake in grants

Supplicants for $3.6 million in state and federal grant money can make their respective cases to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, as the board continues its series of hearings on how to spend grant money for those in need.

In meetings already held, the county’s Planning and Building Department has found a need for affordable housing throughout the county, as well a shortage of adequate aid to the homeless.

The staff report delineates a growing and alarming number of people in trouble.

Funding for case management of the homeless is needed “especially in the North and South County areas,” according to a staff report.

Many homeless people have disabilities and need workers to assist them in their daily lives, the report says. Others, on the edge, require workers to help keep them from becoming homeless.

Meanwhile, the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter and the Prado Day Center in San Luis Obispo also “are no longer sustainable,” the report says. Both face higher costs and an increase in demand for services.

The El Camino Housing Organization — ECHO — which provides night shelter for 30 people at its Atascadero facility, wants to buy property to house the homeless around the clock, as well as improve their health.

South County advocates also hope to hire a coordinator for their homeless and find land to build a shelter.

Despite all these competing demands, the county report says its “greatest unmet need” is construction of a new homeless shelter and homeless services in San Luis Obispo.

Other grant requests to date include:

The money comes from three pots: Community Development Block Grants, the Home Investment Partnership Act and the Emergency Shelter Grant. Each pot has its own parameters.

The block grants must be used to benefit low- and moderate-income people, aid in preventing slums or blight, or meet “a particular urgency that pose(s) a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community.”

Supervisors will not act on the requests at Tuesday’s public hearing.