Supervisors OK funds to shelter at-risk homeless during COVID-19 crisis
El Dorado County homeless service providers have been awarded more than $200,000 to protect and serve local homeless individuals amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The grants are among the $100 million the state gave to local jurisdictions and other service providers last month for homeless services, as previously reported.
The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency was awarded $109,909 while the county’s Continuum of Care received $119,463.
County officials are set to spend the funds on housing at-risk and COVID-19-positive homeless folks as well as providing services on-site.
During a virtual Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday, with county officials and residents “social distancing” by participating through phone and Zoom, District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl indicated that the county intends to use the funds to house local homeless individuals in county hotel and motel rooms. Discussions on specific sites are ongoing, Hidahl added.
Currently, the county’s COVID-19 homeless task force, led by Dr. Martin Entwistle of Marshall Hospital, is focused on ensuring homeless individuals maintain social distancing and remain in their camps or cars as much as possible.
The next phase of protecting the local homeless population — which appears set to get going now that funding is in order — is centered around sheltering and providing services to high-risk individuals and potentially those that have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Within the homeless population, we have some people that are particularly at-risk,” Entwistle said. “Older folks, those with chronic conditions such as a lung condition or are immunocompromised. These people are more likely to get it and become seriously ill. We’re focused on getting these homeless individuals added support and inside.”
Health and Human Services Director Don Semon said during an emergency Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday that efforts from Gov. Gavin Newsom “released a lot of the restraints” surrounding other homeless grant funding already in county possession — which may be used if the initial $219,000 in emergency funds aren’t enough.
“We have quite a bit of additional funding available on the county and CoC side if we need to continue this effort for quite a while,” Semon said.
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With a season-dictated, tourist-based economy, the North Lake Tahoe workforce faced longstanding affordable housing issues long before Zoom’s subscription fees replaced Bay Area commuters’ bridge tolls.