Fort Bragg Tackles Developing a Homeless Action Plan
The City of Fort Bragg took first steps today to develop a Homeless Action Plan to address the ongoing issues plaguing the community, service providers, businesses and homeless people themselves. Given the high rate of homelessness in Mendocino County, compounded by high rates of mental illness and substance abuse, low rental availability and low income households developing a concrete and collaborative plan seems like a logical next step.
City Manager Linda Ruffing pointed out that a great deal of information has already been gathered over the last many months, and while the City has no legal responsibility to address homelessness problems, it does substantially impact our community. Additionally, the City has facilitated receiving and distributing a great deal of relevant funding, especially for the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC), which has been a source of controversy over the last several years.
A laundry list of government, social services, health care, law enforcement and religious organizations took their turn at the microphone, responding to a list of questions including their willingness to participate in a planning process, what services they provide, what barriers they see and ideas to resolve the issues. For most, it was an opportunity to shine the light on their organization’s services and only Mayor Lindy Peters and Councilman Bernie Norvell were able to ask questions, so it was basically a dog and pony show.
After almost 3 hours and a diminished audience, was the community given the opportunity to comment, which lasted another forty minutes. These comments ranged from some homeless people who feel disrespected and not served to community participants wanting to provide input to the project to disgruntled citizens who think there need to be more restrictions on services available locally to agency representatives clarifying previous remarks.
The next step is for City staff to accumulate the data for the Public Safety Committee and public, then initiate a planning process with the goal of having a plan ready for the City Council by the end of the year.
Watch the video to see how each organization addresses the homeless issue, ideas to improve the problems and what community members had to say.