Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2017  
  < RETURN  
  Working on Homeless Challenges in Richmond
December 20, 2017

Yesterday, a group of Richmond and Contra Costa Officials made a field trip to San Francisco to visit two sites related to our effort to better serve Richmond’s Homeless population. The first stop was The Panoramic, an apartment building developed by Panoramic Interests to provide microunit affordable student housing. The panoramic is not homeless supported housing, but it is an example of microunits that can provide low cost housing. Panoramic Interests , headed by Patrick Kennedy and Michael Thomas, are pioneering projects using prefabricated microunits combined into multi-family buildings that can provide low cost supportive housing for formerly homeless persons.

The group included Bill Lindsay, Richard Mitchell, Lina Velasco, Adrian Sheppard, Sequoia Erasmus, Michelle Milam and I from the City of Richmond, Lavonna Martin and Jenny Robbins from Contra Costa Health Services and Sonia Bustamonte, John Gioia’s chief of staff.

The Panoramic on Mission Street in San Francisco

A two-person unit at the Panoramic

Contra Costa County has received a HUD grant that will fund 50 units of supportive housing, and we are collaborating with the County to find a site in Richmond. One of the purposes of the field trip was to observe how well-designed an apartment building with micro-units can be.

After the panoramic, we moved several blocks up Mission Street to the Mission Street Navigation Center, which serves as an “encampment triage center” that provides a “safe, welcoming environment for up to 75 single men, women and couples formerly living in encampments and on the street. It is comprised of single-story buildings with dormitory-style living quarters, shower, bathroom and laundry facilities, case management offices, an outdoor courtyard, a pet-run and 24-hour dining room access. The Center is open 24 hours a day, and provides low threshold programming and intensive case management services that meet the needs of people referred by the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), the Encampment Resolution Team (ERT) and from the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing (DHSH). Exits include a Shelter Plus Care unit for those guests that are Priority 1, a treatment placement, a shelter bed or assistance in returning home through the city’s Homeward Bound program.”

Mission Navigation Center

Mission navigation Center

The Mission Navigation Center uses an abandoned school site and its portables to provide dormitory housing, bathrooms, meals, access to CalFresh (food stamps), MediCal and General Assistance, along with counseling and other services designed to transition homeless people off the streets.

We all learned a lot and came away with critical information about how we might better address Richmond’s homeless population.

On a related front, the Mayor’s Office, the Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) and the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) were able to collaborate to absorb two homeless veterans into the RHA voucher program yesterday and provide them a home before Christmas. Kathleen Sullivan, Executive Director, Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, wrote, “Thank you both for your support for GRIP and Homeless Families.  Because of your communication we finally received a call today from the Richmond Housing Authority confirming they had all required paperwork on both of these very honorable gentlemen and we have received verbal confirmation  that they can move in before Christmas.  This is truly a blessing and I will reach out to you for our ribbon cutting for both these men as the first residents of the GRIP Veteran Apartments.”