Now that the City of Brentwood has decided to rezone land that would allow an emergency shelter to be built near the border of Oakley and Antioch I’m being asked; what can we do now? A truthful answer for all of us not living and voting in the city of Brentwood is, not a lot.
We can still call the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) and share with them our thoughts as to why they should reject the location. HCD Housing Policy Development Deputy Director, Lisa Bates (916) 263-2911. Hopefully HCD will hear our pleas, reject the site and send it back to Brentwood for reconsideration.
For those of you who have expressed concern that a project is imminent, here are a few things to consider:
Although the property has had an additional use added to the permitted uses, the property is zoned residential and that is most likely its ultimate use. Furthermore, there has to be a willing seller. Rumor is that the property owner’s contract with homebuilder fell through, which is unfortunate because that was one way to squash it, but he said he’d never sell to someone that would build a homeless shelter.
There has to be a needs assessment. Solving the homelessness, particularly chronic homelessness, is expensive. No one funding source can fund a single emergency housing project. Emergency housing sponsors generally cobble together a mix of private, county, state, and federal sources to be able to create and operate emergency housing. Emergency housing sponsors report requiring, on average, six to 13 funding sources. In order to raise the millions of dollars necessary any developer would have to show investors a volume of homelessness that just doesn’t exist in Brentwood . It is improbable that any developer would be able to attract the necessary subsidies to fund a project.
The homeless not only need a place to live but they also need services. These services can include case management, medication monitoring, life skills training, access to health and behavioral health care, transportation to and from appointments, vocational services, and life skills training. Without these additional services securing funding for any project would be difficult.
I would never be so brazen to say that an emergency shelter would never be built at this location; but, based on what I see as some overwhelming obstacles it is extremely unlikely. I think the Brentwood City Council made the same determination and then made the politically expedient choice, which appeased the citizens of Brentwood but enraged the neighbors.