Sausalito approves service contract for homeless campers
Sausalito hires a non-profit organization to provide services to the homeless occupants of the Marinship Park camp.
City council voted on Tuesday to approve a six-month, $ 85,041 contract with the Marin County Cooperation Team, a support organization based in Sausalito.
“I think they will bring an extra layer of mental health expertise and capacity to enable us to better connect and serve the people in the camp by helping them access shelter,” said Mayor Jill Hoffman.
The contract aims to provide resources such as access to shelter, COVID information and safety equipment, coronavirus test kits, transportation to appointments and programs, referrals to other providers services and drug collections and depots.
The contract reflects about half of the estimated annual cost of $ 170,082 for a director, program coordinator, two outreach workers, supplies and a cell phone.
The approval came just days after the storm razed tents and camp structures, leaving residents with soggy ground on which to rebuild their shelters.
Jahmeer Reynolds, executive director and founder of the association, said the first step for the organization would be a “listening session” with camp occupants and local business owners. His hope, he added, would be to build trust to facilitate the services requested more effectively.
“It’s not my job to come out there and tell people what I think they should have. The services will reflect the feedback we receive from the camp, ”he said.
Reynolds, who is also the director of the Sausalito Marin City School District Community School, said he was homeless while in college in North Carolina. The association, which adjoins the camp, has been operational since April 2020 and has grown to meet the need to provide services to students during the pandemic, he said.
City Manager Chris Zapata said at the council meeting that the approval represented a pivot to a “direct services” model as opposed to a “watch and cleanup model.” He said the measure of the program’s success would be the number of people displaced in housing or shelters and the decrease in calls for service.
Robbie Powelson, an activist who lives in the camp, said the town offered “no help” before the storm in the form of tents or platforms for existing camps. Powelson said campers were building a “little house” on the site to protect residents from the elements.
Authorities ordered construction work to stop on Friday.
“We are not going to allow bureaucracy to endanger our residents,” Powelson said. “We’re going to make sure our people are safe from weather events, period.”
Hoffman said the city provided blankets and tents before the storm and established an emergency shelter at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy gymnasium. The city planned to keep it open “for the next few days.” No one had used it on Thursday, Hoffman said.
“As long as we did what we could as a community, we acted very quickly. I think we made a good effort, ”she said.
Kenneth Kennedy, 52, compared the storm damage at Marinship to the dismantling of “Camp Cormorant” at Dunphy Park in Sausalito this summer, a place where many homeless people lived before a city-backed eviction.
“We went through an artificial version of it and it was really no different this time, it was just an act of God, it was nature,” Kennedy said.
He said residents of the Marinship camp, which he estimated to be around 44, were “frustrated” by the town’s response. In the aftermath of the storm, Marinship was in a “mud bath,” he said, and all but about five people were forced out and into privately purchased hotel rooms. He said he visited the shelter because he was told there would be hot food there, but he arrived without finding any.
Powelson and Kennedy’s view matched that of some camp members who shared a phone at the council meeting to express their displeasure with the city’s response to the storm and their suspicion of further sponsored aid. by the city.
“I think that’s another waste of money,” Kennedy said of the Marin County cooperation team contract. “The money is not going where it is needed.
Over the past year, Urban Alchemy, a San Francisco-based service provider for homeless people, has provided outreach services to residents of Marinship, but the contract is expected to expire in less than two months. The city has estimated that an “improved service model” similar to the contract between San Francisco and Urban Alchemy is valued at $ 1.3 million, according to city documents.
The city also recently approved $ 185,000 for security and camp services, a separate allocation from the Marin County Cooperation Team, and asked Zapata to implement the plan.
The city is still pursuing a lawsuit brought by the California Homeless Union, which continued the move from Dunphy Park to Marinship Park. Powelson said residents plan to raise the issue of conditions in the camp after the storm with the judge presiding over the case.
The city has estimated cumulative roaming costs to be $ 675,428.51, excluding the new allowance of $ 85,000.