A novel idea for helping homeless families

I have probed the subject of the homeless in past surveys on the Pulse Of Concord, and some aspects are rather salient crying out for action or inaction.

Last year, I asked: How much yearly would you give additionally to provide homes for the street homeless? Some 61 percent would give at least $30 a year and 45 percent at least $60.

When asked if the homeless should be allowed to camp under bridges without being subject to eviction, only 16 percent agreed and 63 percent disagreed.

Should city zoning be changed to allow any unused retail space to be used for sheltering for homeless or others by their landlords? This would involve waiving habitability requirements as well as zoning. With 32 percent agreeing and 49 percent disagreeing, there is a sense that the homeless should maybe remain invisible.

This year, I have a survey question on a novel idea presented to me by a constituent. It involves a pilot foster homeless family placement, where we would place a homeless family with a more stable family. The families are screened for addiction, mental illness and crime and must have a child in a Concord school. It would be supported by the General Fund for 20 families at $400 a month for a total of $96,000, not counting admin cost.

Right now, there is an interesting split between those for and against. Most importantly, more than a handful of people have answered that they “very strongly agree and would be willing to be a host family.” Wowser. To add your views, go to www.pulseofconcord.com.

We know there are families living in cars, and we know there are families working and sending their kids to school but don’t have a place to stay. This is a small segment of the homeless but one where there can be a significant positive impact. Exploring this further is worthwhile.

I would like to see is a nonprofit, a church group or group of churches come forward to be that interface to do the screening and parcel out to the screened host families. They could make a proposal to the city either through our General Fund or Community Block Grants.

What groups do we have out there that want to give this noble idea a try? Contact me at EdiBirsan@gmail.com. Let us see if this pilot program idea can take flight.

The statements, questions, information and opinions herein are those of Edi E. Birsan personally and do not purport to reflect any policies or opinions of the city of Concord, including without limitation the Concord City Council, city of Concord staff, or any other people, institution, or organizations associated with the city of Concord. No city of Concord funds or resources were used.

Send comments to EdiBirsan@gmail.com or 510-812-8180.