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Portola Reporter
Portola , California
June 9, 2010     Portola Reporter
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June 9, 2010

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Portola Reporter Wednesday, June 9, 2010 7A Plumas declares need for homeless services Joshua Sebold Staff Writer warrants it, ff the client has a mental impairment or has a physical impairment that lim- its work." On the homeless prevention grant, Thibeault contended, "Most people are just a couple paychecks away from being homeless." "Homeless prevention pro- vides funding for people to keep that from happening when the unexpected happens." He proposed a scenario where "in the middle of win- ter when somebody gets hit with a $400 heating bill and the car breaks down at the same time and something else happens, they find out they can't pay their bills." Thibeault explained the grant could be used to pay one month's utility bill for people in that situation or to pay rent on a home they're cur- rently in or even a deposit for moving into a different home ff they were evicted. He said this type of grant was also used to buy bus pass- es for people in need, adding that Plumas Transit recently reported that the resource cen- ter bought more than 5,000 bus passes for clients last year. The resource center direc- tor Mso told the board, "Plumas County's homeless problem is not very visible." "I think the stereotype of homeless people are people who are sleeping in doorways or establishing tent cities outside of Sacramento, that kind of stuff. That's not the face of homelessness in rural count ies." He said rural homeless peo- ple were less socially isolated than those in the cities, often ending up staying with friends or family or sleeping in cars. He said Plumas County homeless included all kinds of people, even though most resi- dents could probably only identify "one town character." He listed some examples of homeless in Plumas County: "People who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction or trying to recover from that, as well as mental health problems, a number Of veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder, who live out in the forests." "Half of the people that we house in our transitional housing units are enrolled at FRC (Feather River College), as retraining." "Right now, money for col- lege is about the only assis- tance available to a lot of these folks as far as income goes." Thibeault then addressed some of the negative ways that homelessness could im- pact people with homes. "The problem with dou- bling up with family and friends is that it brings a par- ticular burden of stress that acts out in domestic violence sometimes, and in ways that you wouldn't have expected, or it leads to exploitation of others." "It's not uncommon for someone who is mentally ill, who is getting their disability check, to. be generous and open their doors to somebody who is homeless, who comes along and takes financial ad- vantage of them." On .his agency's role, Thibeault explained the plan was "to not just shelter people but to get people hooked up with the resources they need to be living independently." "In some ways we're acting as property managers for some of the landlords in this county because we are hooking people up with housing and the land- lords, who have units who might be otherwise empty, be- cause of the economy, are get- ting their rents paid." Thibeault said the resource center was currently taking the lead on a $1.15 million "Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Grant," that it managed with three other entities. He said the grant could fund up to 18 months of rent until someone's income was stabilized, depending on the circumstances, before clarify- ing, "We don't encourage peo- ple to stay on that long." Thibeault said resources were scarcer than in the past, with waiting lists for the develop- ment commission's affordable housing program, so long that there weren't even new names being added to it anymore. Keller agreed and reminded Dennis Thibeault, execu- tive director of the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Re- source Center, told the Plumas County Community Development Commission at a mid-May meeting that when it came to the number of homeless people in Plumas County, "The numbers that we are talking about are literally in the hundreds." CDC Executive Director David Keller told the commis- sion, made up of the county supervisors' and an at-large member from the public, Thibeault was asking them to certify that there was a need for services to help homeless people in the county. Keller said this would help the resource center, a non- profit, get a grant to continue to fund those kinds of services. He added that the resource center was the lead agency in addressing homelessness in Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties. Thibeault explained his agency was applying for two federal "emergency shelter" grants, one for transitional housing and one for homeless- ness prevention. He added that these grants were competitive, meaning a few other agencies throughout the state were vying for them. He went on to say, "The transitional housing grant is the grant that we have been using to support our project in the downtown trailer park." Thibeault said the resource center had been renting nine units for the past two years, housing people and providing them with case management "with the end being to get them securely on their feet so they can be self-supporting. That has worked out very very well." Case management basically means the agency's assis- tance is accompanied by in- centives for the users to take various steps to improve their circumstances ...... Thibeault later explained, "Self-sufficiency can be work or permanent disability if it 29 TH k'00NUAL PURPLE PRI:[)E 00.ELI00r ..................................... .............. iW Go!f Tournament Tournament Info: Cost: $145 per player Includes "-Tip or BBQ Chicken Sandwich Format: "Texas Scramble" Four Person Teams Prizes: Long Drive, Closest to the pin, Raffle Prizes Mulligans available for purchase! Flights: Handicap & Callaway Flights ,l00/hitehawk Golf Ranc a June tS;tlq, 2ore 8:30 Shotgun Start iii!i;i Registration Deadline: June 5th the commission that it set up that program with a focus on providing housing for work- ing people, the elderly and those with disabilities. He said the resource center was the other side of the coin, helping those in dire need without a stable income. Thibeault told the board that homelessness was also one of the issues that led to children being separated from parents, adding that in Plumas County more children were taken away because of neglect than abuse. He argued that programs like his were trying to keep people on the edge from going over. "If you don't have a place where you can get a returned phone call you're not gonna get a job. There are all kinds of disadvantages of not hav- ing a mailing address." "Once people sink to that. level of destitution, it's a deep hole to climb out of." At this point, commission chairwoman and Quincy com- missioner Lori Simpson asked if the commission would administer the grant for the resource center. Keller responded that the resource center was pursing the grant and the reason Thibeault was there was be- cause the two agencies had worked closely together, PCIRC specialized in this area, and it would help them get the grant if the CDC sup- ported that effort by certify- ing that homeless services were needed in the county. Simpson asked if the nine units discussed earlier were available to people in need from any part of the county. Thibeault said that was the case but "As you can imagine, we turn away a lot more people than we're able to accommodate." Eastern Plumas commis- sioner Terry Swofford said he had a constituent come to him recently with a story about a customer whose car broke down in Plumas while the per- son was trying to move from the Bay Area to Colorado. The commissioner asked if someone like that, stranded with little money, could use one of the resource center programs. "That's what we do," Thibeault replied with a warm smile. 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