Concord hires consultant, launches community group to tackle homelessness

Concord hires consultant, launches community group to tackle homelessness
Underneath Concord Avenue where it crosses over Walnut Creek. (Pete Cruz photo)

CONCORD, CA (Mar. 21, 2023) — City leaders took a major step toward finding solutions and support for the city’s homeless and unsheltered when they hired a consultant and established a diverse community group to come up with an action plan.

The council voted Feb. 14 to pay Thurmond Consulting up to $187,000. The Sacramento-based firm has more than 25 years of experience providing Department of Housing and Urban Development funded services and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and government agencies, including the cities of Roseville and Woodland and Yolo County.

The newly formed Homeless Strategic Plan Working Group has a council mandate to “guide future city efforts and investments related to responding to the impacts from and the needs of the city’s unsheltered population, using data and fact-based information,” said Jennifer Ortega, the city’s Community Relations manager.

Homelessness is No. 1 issue

The nine-member group includes two council members; a representative with lived experiences of being homeless; representatives from organizations that provide homeless, mental health, substance and veterans support services; as well as a Concord resident and a Concord business owner. Councilmember Laura Nakamura will chair the group, with Vice Mayor Edi Birsan as vice chair.

The city’s focus on addressing homelessness followed community input that ranked the issue as the top concern. “We conducted a survey in January 2020 and asked people what the biggest issue is that they would like to see the city address. Homelessness was No. 1,” Ortega said.

“Homelessness is one of the most urgent issues facing our region,” Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister said. “I am proud of Concord’s commitment to undertaking this vital work and to develop a comprehensive set of strategies that we can utilize to make a difference for our community.”

Measure V and ARPA funds

Money for the consultant and implementation of the group’s recommendations comes from a one-time fund of $5.4 million. Of that, $2.4 million is from Measure V, a one-cent use and transaction tax residents approved in 2020, and $3 million is from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Ortega said.

The working group will first meet at 6 p.m. March 22 at the Concord Senior Center. Ortega said they will seek community input and meet monthly, continuing for no more than 12 months.

“The council and the community have said they want the project expedited,” she said, adding that the group could have a recommendation to the council as early as October.

Concord resident Dr. Kelly Beatty said she fully supports the city’s efforts to address homelessness.

“As I’ve driven to work over the past several years, I’ve noticed just looking around on the streets there are many, many more homeless,” said Beatty, a practitioner at Pinwheel Pediatrics on East Street.

“This is disheartening to me, because I truly believe homeless people need help. I’m very glad to hear that Concord is addressing this,” Beatty noted. “It’s going to be good for the homeless population, and it’s going to be good for the community.”

Residents can get more information and sign up for a homeless response email list at

Read more stories by Karen Jenkins.

Karen Jenkins
Karen Jenkins
Correspondent |

Karen Jenkins is pleased to be a correspondent with the Concord Clayton Pioneer News. She has worked as a community journalist on and off for three decades at publications including the Contra Costa Sun in Lamorinda; the Antioch Daily Ledger; the Avon-Beaver Creek Times in Colorado; Roll Call in Washington, D.C. and the Daily Nexus at UC-Santa Barbara. She is also the student advisor for The Sentinel, the student newspaper at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. She may be reached at