Grover Beach became the second South SLO County city to declare a homeless shelter crisis this month in order to get a portion of a multi-million-dollar state grant program to combat homelessness.
Members of the Grover Beach City Council voted unanimously to declare the shelter crisis at an Oct. 15 meeting. The vote followed a similar shelter crisis declaration made by the city of Arroyo Grande earlier this month.
- FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
- NO SHELTER The Grover Beach City Council declared a shelter crisis at its Oct. 15 meeting, which will allow the city to obtain state funding to combat homelessness.
Declaring the shelter crisis will allow Grover Beach to obtain some of the estimated $4.8 million SLO County will receive from the state under the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP). The program was established to provide more than $500 million in block grant funding to assist cities and counties in California address homelessness. The funds can be used in a variety of ways, but cities like Grover Beach can only get the funding directly from the county if they declare a shelter crisis.
"It provides some flexibility in taking actions to help support homeless services and homeless needs across the community," Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson said. "The state has stressed that the parameters are fairly broad to allow communities to be creative and collaborative to work on addressing homelessness in unique ways with these grant dollars."
Bronson said the timetable for the grant program was moving quickly, with the state set to announce the first round of funding recipients in January 2019. In addition to Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach, at least three other SLO County cities plan to declare shelter crises in November. SLO County must also declare a shelter crisis for unincorporated areas by Dec. 31 to be eligible for the HEAP funding.
Just how the grant money is spent will be hashed out through collaboration between South County cities and the county. According to the county's 2017 point-in-time homeless count, 317 of the 359 homeless individuals counted in South SLO County were unsheltered. Currently, there is no permanent homeless shelter in South SLO County.
"The declaration tonight is really important to the process because we are trying to approach this from a South County regional perspective, and we need the region to be in on this," said Mike Byrd, president of the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition's board of directors.