Grant to Reduce Homeless Encampments on Popular Trail

Written by Estero Bay News

August 11, 2023

Grant money will help both the unhoused and preserve a popular walking and biking trail utilized by locals and visitors alike.

Last month the County of San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted $13.4 million in Encampment Resolution Funds from the State of California Interagency Council on Homelessness. The County will use the grant funding to reduce encampments in a flood and fire danger zone near and around the segment of the Bob Jones Bike Trail parallel to South Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo.

The Bob Jones Bike Trail Encampment Resolution Project has 3 main phases:

• Clean-up of the San Luis Creek and associated open spaces near the Bob Jones Bike Trail

• Expansion of ongoing field outreach efforts to those living in the area

• Development of a non-congregate housing facility with on-site wraparound services, dubbed the “Welcome Home Village.”

The County of San Luis Obispo Homeless Services Division will work with four key partners to launch the multi-phase project: the City of San Luis Obispo will lead the expansion of outreach services to the Bob Jones Bike Trail area, DignityMoves will build a supportive housing community, LifeArk will build the modular homes, and Good Samaritan Shelter will manage the supportive housing program.  

“The acceptance of the Encampment Resolution Funds marks a step-change in the way the County is going about homelessness,” according to Homeless Services Division Manager Joe Dzvonik. “Alongside our community partners, the County is ready to implement methods that are proving successful in cities like Santa Barbara and Austin, Texas. This will be a life-changing project for many of our county’s residents.”

 San Luis Obispo County currently has the third largest percentage of unsheltered individuals nationwide compared to other communities of its size. Last August, the Supervisors approved the San Luis Obispo Countywide Plan to Address Homelessness and its goal to create more than 2,000 housing units to meet the unique needs of those that are persistently unsheltered. In March 2023, the San Luis Obispo City Council also adopted the City’s first-ever Homelessness Response Strategic Plan, which aligns with the County’s plan.

The Welcome Home Village, which will be located next door to the County’s Department of Social Services headquarters, will supply 80 of those much-needed beds, through the creation of 34 interim and 46 permanent supportive housing units. The County is partnering with DignityMoves to develop the property while Good Samaritan Shelter will manage the supportive housing program with mandatory case management and individualized service plans for residents.

“This grant will allow us to reduce the number of homeless encampments along the Bob Jones Bike Trail by providing our most vulnerable neighbors with a place to call home and will also allow the City to clean up the area so that all community members can use it as originally intended. said City Manager Derek Johnson. We are so grateful to the County and the San Luis Obispo community for their ongoing support.”

Similar to the 5Cities Homeless Coalition’s Grover Beach project, “Cabins for Change,” the interim supportive housing units of the Welcome Home Village provide each resident with a private space for rest and recovery along with electricity, air conditioning, heating, and a desk. Guests of the interim housing units will share communal bathroom, laundry, and kitchen facilities. In contrast, each permanent housing unit will have a private restroom and kitchen area. In alignment with the intention to create a community, the Welcome Home Village will also feature a small park with a playground and dog run.

The County of San Luis Obispo’s Homeless Services Division applied for the grant earlier this year in coordination with the City of San Luis Obispo and was awarded the grant on June 14, 2023.

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