Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

While a $493,000 grant to the county Department of Health and Human Services promises to help create new, permanent housing for 25 to 40 at-risk individuals, the reality is that it’s much more complicated.

Essentially, the goal will be to combine money from various sources to embark on a project to create housing for the chronically homeless in Del Norte County.

DHHS Director Heather Snow said the county doesn’t have the funding for a large project, but the effort would be to combine money from the three funding sources to build new apartments or single units, while meeting the mandated requirements for each funding stream.

According to a staff report by Snow, funding for the project is contingent on combining money from the state’s No Place Like Home funds. Another funding arm would come from a grant applied for by county administration, from the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63), a 1 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million, enacted in 2004.

Del Norte County DHHS applied for the Partnership Health Plan of California’s Local Innovation Grant of Housing in order to start a capital housing project, which was granted and approved by county supervisors last month

The county received notice Friday that it has been awarded a $75,000 No Place Like Home technical Assistance Grant. County Analyst Toni Self said the grant is for technical assistance and will be used to come up with a plan.

“We’re working with Sen. Mike McGuire and the city to determine the route we’ll take,” Self said, regarding whether the city will hire a consulting firm.

She said at this point, it has not been determined if the goal will be to build an apartment complex, single residence units or a combination.

“County of Del Norte will be able to draw down funds when the standard agreement fully executed and any general and special conditions have been cleared in writing by the department,” said a notification letter from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

The PHC Grant seeks to expand housing for Medi-Cal members currently enrolled with PHC in Del Norte County, according to staff reports. At this point, no determination has been made as to the type or size of any yet-to-be proposed project, Snow said.

McGuire has been promoting the No Place Like Home program in his district since it was enacted in 2016.

“He’s been advocating for us to get our share,” Snow said, “and it’s good to know we have his support as this goes forward.”

Asked for details about needed funding, possible project costs, and locations, Snow said a consultant would need to be hired in order to determine that. She said several political issues would need to be addressed, from the location of a possible project, to community concerns about law enforcement and crime to “not in my backyard” concerns.

All of that would need community input before going forward,” Snow said. “Nothing can be done without that.”

However, state-level litigation regarding No Place Like Home Funds is tying up the process, Snow said.

“My main thought on all this is that there is a lack of local housing,” she said. “This is a big problem for low-income families, because there is no place to house them and we need solutions. We need affordable housing here.”