Warming and care centers key to helping the homeless

This month, I want to share with you how some of our homeless services are expanding.

Since the streamlining of homeless services in 2017, we have had a warming center in Concord. This is different from a shelter. Our shelter allows individuals to stay for 120 days and guarantees them a bed. The warming center provides a space indoors for a night, and individuals have to leave every morning.

The warming center is then converted into one of Health, Housing and Homeless (H3) Division’s care centers, which are resource hubs for homeless individuals. These centers include services like showers, case management, health services and housing searches. There are three care centers in Central County, including two at nonprofit locations:

Monument Crisis Center and Trinity Center. In April, the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) opened a warming center in Richmond as a part of H3 services. It will have 30 cots.

Earlier this year, H3 received nearly $7.2 million in state funding through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) Grant. This is one-time state funding that must be spent by June 21, 2021. To receive these funds, the county had to declare a shelter crisis and provide evidence of a collaborative process. In Contra Costa County, we shelter about a third of our homeless population on any given night, and all of our shelters are at capacity.

As part of the collaborative process, H3 held four community meetings to engage the public to give input on what the community saw as needs for our homeless population. The HEAP funds will be used for some of the following:

increasing warming center hours to Sundays, installing storage lockers, expanding the Core Team evening hours and capacity.

One of the biggest needs is a care center in East County. H3 is working with the city of Antioch to secure a location and build a care center from the ground up.

The HEAP funds will also be used for making some improvements around the Concord warming center and shelter.

Lastly, H3 will be adding lockers and kennels at the Central County shelter. Many homeless individuals have animals and will not accept services if it means they will be separated from them.

For more information about H3, the HEAP funding or homelessness in Contra Costa, visit cchealth.org/h3 or call 925-608-6700.

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at supervisormitchoff@bos.cccounty.us