SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - The fate of a Grover Beach church and homeless services in the Five Cities lies in the hands of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, set to meet Tuesday morning.
Talk of putting transitional youth and permanent housing for the homeless at the property has been met with strong opposition far beyond the Newport Avenue location.
Former Governor Jerry Brown allocated Homeless Emergency Aid funds to cities and counties across California to address the issue.
SLO County was granted $4.8 million and 14 groups are vying for a piece of that pie.
“Bad, bad, bad! People are scared,” said Roland Vick, a Grover Beach resident who lives two doors down from the site in question.
If Vick had his way, the SLO County Board of Supervisors would not allocate HEAP funds to People’s Self-Help Housing and the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition’s proposed homeless housing concept at Hillside Church.
“Seven houses have gone on the market, one of them was on the market and the minute people found out they backed out. Property taxes are going down, it’s just a bad situation,” said Vick.
Five Cities residents like Bud Aquino are a bit more neutral.
“I’m glad the decision’s not in my hands because it’s a hot button issue. I know the need for shelter but I also understand the concerns of the property owners and the parents of the school children here,” said Aquino.
Red and White signs dot the streets of Grover Beach, there’s two in Vick’s yard. They read ‘right idea, wrong location’ but as People’s Self-Help Housing’s President and CEO explains, it’s not that simple.
“The 5 Cities [Homeless] Coalition has been looking and operating in the Five Cities area for 10 years and looked at 14 different sites," said John Fowler, President and CEO of People’s Self-Help Housing. “Even if we found another site, at this point these funds will not be available for the future site,” he adds.
After heated debate at neighboring city council meetings over the past month, Fowler points out that they don’t even have an application in at this point, they’re just trying to acquire the land.
“We have the property in escrow and we let the seller know that it’s contingent on us getting an award of these funds from the county so if we don’t get the award, it will pretty much be impossible to close that,” said Fowler.
Fowler says there’s a lot of misinformation out there and if they get the funding they’ll continue to do more outreach in the community.
"These are important questions and people want to know, particularly people who haven't dealt with this population before. How do you handle homelessness,” said Fowler. He also stresses that “these are real people,” when talking about the transient population they hope to serve.
The Board’s Homeless Services Oversight Council has made a recommendation to the board to fund $2.6 million to the Grover Beach project.
The meeting takes place at the County Government Center, Tuesday at 9 a.m.