Livermore is launching a pilot program to help reduce homelessness.
The city is using about $800,000 it received from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) from Alameda County to pay for it.
The Livermore City Council on July 29 unanimously approved the appropriation and directed City Manager Marc Roberts to sign agreements to start the program.
Vice Mayor Robert Carling and Councilwoman Trish Munro have served on a subcommittee since December 2018 that has been looking into options to deal with homelessness. The group decided to address short-term solutions first, and work with the public on longer term plans later.
“We’ve had a very long narrative that talks about the deserving and the undeserving poor. We’re stopping that,” Munro explained. “We understand everyone is human and it is better for all of us as a society when we take that stand. We all have compassion for each other. In Livermore, that’s the approach we are taking.”
Munro said organizations such as CityServe, Open Heart Kitchen and Monthly Miracles are already working on the situation in Livermore.
Livermore Human Services Program Manager Claudia Young reported that meetings took place earlier this year, one involving the general public and one with homeless neighbors. They discussed crisis intervention services, safe parking, biohazard clean up, mobile hygiene units, restrooms, storage, and trash.
Young noted that the short-term priorities were to provide dignity to homeless neighbors, establish policies and programs that would have an immediate impact and maximize resources.
The city has to spend the HEAP money by March 31, 2021 and come up with a 30% match. The money will provide for services to help take care of individual needs, rental assistance, subsidies to prevent eviction, homelessness reduction and other improvement projects.
Livermore will work with CityServe to provide outreach, case management and support for clients on the road to self-sufficiency.
The city is engaged with five faith-centered groups, the Area Recreation and Park District and the school district to provide rotating sites for parking seven nights a week.
The groups expect 20 vehicles will use the areas each night. The number of parking spaces will be evaluated and might change, depending on location, Young said.
The groups plan to have an overnight attendant, restrooms and trash service at each parking site. Shower and laundry services at Asbury United Methodist Church and Cornerstone at Vineyard Christian Fellowship will be expanded with paid staff to coordinate services.
Storage, such as small individual lockers or bigger bins, is also being arranged with an attendant to oversee access at sites that are yet to be determined.
The Livermore Police Department plans to work with those who are homeless to provide information and expectations, and to encourage proper use of services.
The city expects to help provide biohazard cleanup and work to educate the community about the services.
“Looking for a way to give some quality of life is vital. There are a huge number of people who are in and out of homelessness,” commented Evan Branning, a member of the Human Services Commission.
He said he believes homelessness can be tackled, but it is a process that takes time and a lot of resources.
There are five shelters in the Tri-Valley — all in Livermore.
“For every person lifted out of homelessness, three people are going into homelessness. It’s going to take resources,” Mayor John Marchand said. “We’re starting small to find out what works, and then move ahead with programs."