Coachella Valley Region
For too many years, hundreds of individuals in the Coachella Valley-both adults and children—have struggled with the lack of long-term stable and affordable housing, experiencing homelessness and hunger for extended periods of time. With the impending closure of Roy’s Desert Resource Center, we nonprofit and governmental organizations want to focus the attention of the public and our elected officials on what have proven to be the most effective ways to address issues of homelessness in communities throughout California.
Effective approaches recognize the need for a Continuum of Care. A Continuum of Care [CoC] is a community’s plan or strategy to organize and deliver housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are in the midst of a housing crisis and/or are experiencing homelessness as they move to stable housing and maximum self-sufficiency. A CoC strategy includes action steps to end homelessness and prevent a return to homelessness.
Interventions early on to prevent homelessness start the Continuum: financial education, referrals to subsidized housing, emergency loans to fill an immediate and unforeseen financial gap can prevent a household from becoming homeless in the first place. Opportunities and options for "Housing First"-emergency shelter and transitional housing are needed to get people off the streets and from under the overpasses to safe and clean locations where they can also be connected to services. Job training, substance abuse treatment and mental health care are tailored to meet the individual’s needs with the goal to return to self-sufficiency. Assistance with clearing minor legal matters such as warrants or judgments engage the efforts of law enforcement and judicial officers as the successful CORP program has shown in Indio. Finally, an increased number of permanently affordable apartments are needed to ensure long term housing stability and funds to support other household needs.
Often the public and our government leaders believe only single men seen in parks make-up our local homeless population. Representatives of each of the local public school districts can provide the proof that this is not the case. Hundreds of local school children experience homelessness or housing and food insecurity-affecting their ability to thrive in school as well as their health and safety. Homeless service providers have daily interactions to describe current homeless populations include seniors, women and families. Programs that address these differing populations and the variety of needs exist in communities throughout our state and nation. The Coachella Valley does not have to search for a secret and new single solution. Answers exist; successful programs can be studied, duplicated or adapted to meaningfully reduce the numbers of homeless households in our community.
By standing here together, we present a united voice in asking our elected officials to coordinate with us, to share the responsibility to address this community-wide challenge with each other and with us. Improve the accessibility of existing public resources; maintain statistical data on the homeless population, and to provide supportive services and empowerment strategies to allow these individuals to be integrated into the community through a compassionate Continuum of Care.