Contra Costa 2022 Elections

Supervisor candidates say immediate action is needed to address homelessness

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 25, 2022) — Editor: As part of our Election 2022 coverage, the Pioneer poses one question a month to local candidates running in the June Primary. This month, we asked the supervisor candidates for District 4 what their first steps will be in addressing the needs of the county’s homeless population. Debora Allen did not submit a response.

Edi Birsan

Edi BirsanThe unhoused represent a serious problem to all of us not just on a level of compassion but also of safety and quality of life issues.

There needs to be a substantial change in the policies.

1. We need to secure land to set up organized safe encampments while better housing is transitioned
2. We need to secure safe parking for those that are in their cars
3. We need to expand our shelters throughout the county for quick response
4. We need to change our approach to those that are dysfunctional because of the over lapping issues of addiction and mental illness to have detention in appropriate facilities.
5. A real focus on preventing homelessness is needed.

As a society, we need to have a real conversation. We must decide if, as many have advocated, we are going to take the approach of “Get Help or Get Out”. What say you?

Ken Carlson

Ken CarlsonOver the last two years the state budget has seen significant surpluses despite projections of shortfalls based on the pandemic. With these surpluses the Governor has allocated significant funding to housing, homelessness and behavioral health. I will direct county staff to aggressively seek every dollar available in state funding and grants and specifically allocate it to increased supportive, transitional, and affordable housing opportunities we can create. I will create public/private partnerships to build supportive and transitional housing providing opportunities for the unhoused. It is imperative that we create housing that has support services onsite that meet the needs of our unhoused population. We must partner with our nonprofit partners to increase housing opportunities and great services to our unhoused neighbors.

Roxanne Garza

There is so much the County can do and that I will push for once elected. According the to the Measure X Community Needs Assessment, Contra Costa needs 32,000 affordable rental homes to meet demand from very-low-income and extremely-low-income residents. This low-income housing scarcity, and the resulting dramatic rise in rents, is a leading cause of homelessness. As a member of the Measure X Community Advisory Board, I supported the statement that, “solving our housing crisis is beyond the scope of the revenue to be generated by the sales tax, but these revenues could be used as County matching funds to leverage new State funding for affordable housing production and preservation, and to alleviate homelessness”. I will work to coordinate the service of the county with the on-the-ground experiences of city residents who are unhoused. We must treat the unhoused residents with dignity and not “sweep” their shelter without offering alternative housing.

Carlyn Obringer

Carlyn ObringerUpon entering office, I would create a task force to leverage as much public and private dollars to jumpstart housing production. For example, I am currently involved with many initiatives underway to address homelessness and housing in Contra Costa County, including the All Home Regional Action Plan, the Plan for Accelerating Transformative Housing, and the Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition’s “Yes In God’s Backyard” efforts.

In Concord, I am leading initiatives to assist the unsheltered, that include a full-time Coordinated Outreach Referral Engagement Team, a behavioral health clinician, and a “homelessness czar.”

Unfortunately, there is a lack of connectivity between these city and county initiatives, even though much of the developable land is located in cities, and most of the resources to address homelessness, behavioral health, and substance abuse, are received by the County.

I would continue my collaborative leadership and partnerships between cities, private sector, and the County to streamline these processes to better serve our community.

Read more from our local candidate questions series for the 2022 election: Click here.