$250,000 To buy new shopping cart homes and other services for the homeless

Shopping cart home.jpgOn Monday, Palo Alto city Council will decide whether to spend $250,000 to house 20 of the cities estimated 157 homeless. But how will caseworkers pick [and chose] which 20 get new homes?

It won’t be based on good [up standing] behavior. In fact it’s just the opposite.

A report by [homeless “de facto” expert and] City Manager Jim Keene to council says those who will get priority in the selection process are those who had had the most run-ins with the law and are at risk of being repeat offenders.

In addition to the $250,000 from the city Santa Clara County will provide $100,000 from a state grant under the [pension] prison [reform] realignment bill, which sends state prisoners to county jails to relieve [themselves plus] overcrowding.

And state money is earmarked for helping those who have been arrested, have a high chance of being arrested again, who “significantly impact county, state, or local resources,” and who are “homeless or at risk of being or becoming homeless.”

‘Chronically homeless’

According to a report, the “chronically [acute] homeless” individuals can use the assistance to get themselves into a [new cart] home and, with the help of a [mental basket without wheels] caseworker, will apply for government programs, get help for substance abuse and receive medical care.

“These will be prioritized for individuals who face significant barriers to achieving economic self sufficiency,” the report states.

The program was recommended by a city task force [be with you] comprised of [toothless] homeless advocates [without a bite who will gum you to death], which formed in August shortly after the [technically advanced city] council voted to ban car camping and camping at Cubberley Community Center [along with taking away their ability to shower themselves.]

The task force considered other options such as creating a “homeless outreach [‘and put the touch on someone’ team,” which has already been successfully implemented in the San Mateo County cities of San Mateo, [our] East Palo Alto [brothers from the hood] and Redwood City, and bears some resemblance to the proposed Palo Alto program.

Helping biggest troublemakers

Mila Zelkah, strategic relations fellow for InVision Shelter Network, which manages the apartments at Palo Alto’s Opportunity Center, told the post in August that the outreach team program focuses on helping the people who cause of the most problems and are the source of repeat calls to police.

During its first year, the program helped 40% of the people on the police [hit] list of troublemakers to either get a job, find housing, enroll in a substance abuse program or a mental health program.

In it’s second year and the years after that, the program successfully helped about 25% of it’s homeless clients Zelkha said, adding that San Mateo County recently set aside more money to bring the program to Pacifica and South San Francisco.

When council members on the Policy and Services Committee voted to recommend dedicating $250,000 to help the homeless, they asked the homelessness task force to decide how the money could be best spent.

But the [helpless] task force was only given about a month to organize and come up with the plan that’s going to the full [circle marry-go-round] council on Monday.

Zilkha said that the force [be with you] had planned ask for more [spatial] time at a Sept. 26 meeting with City Manager James Keene, but wasn’t able to after he [dodged and] canceled the meeting.

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Future of Palo Alto’s Secret Police Community Advisory Group Meetings – On Hold

Open MicIt was literally an open mic with only two of the original police community advisory group members present to hear Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns outline its future role.

The police advisory group was secretly formed by Chief Dennis Burns with its members handpicked from the community, several being rejected during the interviewing process including an attorney.

This group was primarily tasked to mend what appeared to be strained race relations between the African American and Latino communities left in the wake of former Police Chief Lynne Johnsons’ directive, to stop and question all African American fitting a certain description as unchecked racial profiling having resulted from a string of assaults alleged to have been committed by an African American.

Many African Americans, especially from the East Palo Alto community felt her actions only validated there long held conviction that they had always been the target of discriminatory policing tactics namely, taillight stops .  Her actions coupled with a strong community outcry led to her eventual resignation.

In Chief Burns announcement to the Human Relations Commission on January 10th, stated, that the police advisory group would no long be meeting in what he described as having “exhausted what we have done” which suggested to us that Chief Burns and his secret advisory group had accomplished their goals, on improving police community relations.

During the course of these community think tank meetings or sessions, the general public nor the press were not allowed to attend causing further distrust within the community and some labeled it as an affront to open government and transparency.

In fact, the hand pick participants remained nameless for months and were held back from public vetting out of fear of ridicule and criticism coupled with what they later claimed was the inability to speak freely in a public forum setting.

I reminded Chief Burns during oral communications, a time allotted for public input (I was the only one) the need for greater public transparency by quoting the following directive as set out by Eric Holder of the Department of Justice.  Eric Holder is essentially Chief Burns boss, as top cop.

“In the 21st Century, democracy demands an innovative approach to policy making – an approach built on transparency, participation, and collaboration. These foundational qualities are the keys to creating a more effective government that taps the creativity and diversity of an entire nation to generate solutions to the challenges we face.”

In his closing remarks, Chief Burns suggested that the future role and direction of any new police advisory group, may fall into the hands of Palo Alto contracted Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco and his team, for what he hinted would be a new approach to fresh ideas.

Chief Burns, and to his credit, did recognized the value of Eric Holders challenge by suggesting that any future discussions on police community relations, should include the general public.  We hope it does….