The City of Arcata has a new project in the works to help house homeless people. After receiving a $400,000 grant last week, Arcata is planning to place five one-bedroom homes in the Arcata Mobilehome Park that will be used as long-term housing for homeless individuals.
The project is a result of the Arcata Homelessness Service Working Group — a collaboration of the City, Humboldt County, Department of Health and Human Services, Open Door Community Health Centers and the Arcata House Partnership — which meets monthly to work on solutions to Arcata’s issues surrounding homelessness.
The grant comes from California’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), designed to provide direct assistance to cities and counties to address homelessness.
Arcata Director of Community Development Jennifer Dart is excited to receive the funding to move forward with this project, which will provide a much-needed service: long-term housing for people trying to get off the streets.
“These will be permanent homes,” Dart told the Outpost. “It’s not a shelter or transitional housing.”
Dart explained that it is not easy to find permanent housing for those who are living homeless. Without any rental history or steady income, it is difficult to find landlords willing to take them. And although there are an abundance of assistance programs available, Dart said, there is a serious shortage of homes that will accept that type of low-income assistance.
However, Resident Owned Parks (ROP) — the nonprofit housing corporation which owns Arcata Mobliehome Park — has been very receptive. ROP President Maurice Priest has been fixing up the spaces in the park to ensure they’re up to date and helping the homeless service working group to find the manufactured homes. Priest says he is looking into a couple of different options for this. But they will likely look very similar to the units at Sandpiper Park on Arcata’s South G Street.
Most of the homes in Arcata Mobilehome park are owned by the residents. Priest said this will be the first time they have allotted spaces to be rentals for formerly homeless individuals. But Priest is excited to help with this project, which he says is aligned with the values of ROP.
“We’re trying to provide affordable housing to lower income people,” Priest said. “[This project] is consistent with our goal. We think it’s a wonderful program.”
When asked if there had been any pushback from neighbors about this project, Priest said that ROP has not discussed it with them much yet. They didn’t want to announce the project until they were sure the grant was approved and it would be able to move forward.
Because other residents of the park are also living on low income, Priest doesn’t anticipate that they will be against the project. Priest said that if neighbors do have concerns, it would likely be that they are worried about these spaces being used as a homeless shelter, which they will not be. The people in the homes will be staying there long-term.
Plus, Priest says that having the lots filled will be beneficial to the neighbors. “Instead of having empty spaces, having new homes will be adding value to the community and to their homes as well, ” he said.
Arcata Mobilehome Park on Alliance and 30th street.
Arcata House Partnership will be providing placement for the residents of the new homes. Darlene Spoor, execute director of Arcata House, told the Outpost that Arcata House provides permanent supportive housing for individuals who are “chronically homeless,” meaning they have been homeless for at least a year.
Spoor said the organization will also provide case management for these individuals. Rather than find people housing and send them on their way, case workers meet with the individuals on regular basis — sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly — to help them transition into their new living situation.
“[We] help them transition from homelessness to being housed,” Spoor told the Outpost. She said it depends on the needs of the individual, but sometimes Arcata House can teach people “how to budget, grocery shop, cook indoors and how to be a good neighbor.”
Spoor believes this assistance is crucial to helping ensure people can continue to live in their homes and not end up back on the street. When someone hasn’t lived in a house for a long time they may not remember to do simple things like take out the trash or pay the bills. And it takes more than the support of Arcata House to make this possible.
“We do this with the support of the landlords, neighbors and community,” Spoor said. “Because it benefits everyone when people are housed.”