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Consultant Jeremy Gray facilitates a meeting on housing needs in Twentynine Palms.

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San Bernardino County asks Morongo Basin residents to take a survey on housing needs, online at www.sbcountyplans.com/survey.

TWENTYNINE PALMS — Housing for homeless people was listed as one of the city’s main housing needs during an hour-long community meeting Tuesday, July 16.

Kelly Schumacher from the Food For Life Ministry said many people just don’t make enough money to rent homes in Twentynine Palms anymore.

Potential tenants must show their income is three times a property’s monthly rent before a landlord will consider them, she pointed out.

“We just have no low-income places for people to rent,” Schumacher said.

She was one of a handful of people at the lightly attended meeting. It was hosted by the county’s Community Development and Housing Agency and held in the Twentynine Palms community services building.

The county is holding several such meetings across the county as it works on a housing report for the federal government.

That report is due every five years and is meant to gauge housing needs and disclose how federal funds are spent.

Also attending Tuesday’s meeting was Wayne Hamilton, who helps homeless families for the Morongo Unified School District. Hamilton said shelters should be built in the communities where homeless people already live.

He said when local homeless people are offered rides to a shelter in Indio, few accept the offer.

“Homeless people are going to stay where they are at,” he said.

Astrid Johnson from Morongo Basin ARCH (Aligning Resources — Challenging Homelessness) spoke about transitional housing her group has created.

ARCH hopes to install a homeless services facility in a Joshua Tree building that currently houses a church.

Johnson said a lot of homeless people in Twentynine Palms look for vacant and boarded-up houses to sleep in; others sleep in the park when they don’t have enough money to pay for a motel.

She said she had just gotten a call about a man in a wheelchair who, with his son, is homeless after being evicted from a local motel.

“The real issue is figuring out housing for these people,” she said. “Everything is already stacked against these people. Our goal is to find them permanent housing.”

Hamilton noted that it is difficult to gauge how many homeless people live in the area because earlier efforts to deal with the problem by arresting the homeless drove many of them into hiding.

“For years they have tried to control it with enforcement,” he said.

Twentynine Palms Community Services Director Randy Councell said the city is ready to help developers who want to build low-income housing.

“We have money for low-income housing, we just don’t have any takers,” he said.

Asked about fair housing, Hamilton said military families are often given preference over non-military families because they are more accountable.

“If you don’t pay the rent, they (the landlords) call the base,” he said. “It opens more doors if you are in the military.”

(11) comments

TwoToeJoe

I would suggest that the old Joshua Tree Elementary School property would make an excellent place for transitional housing. It is so sad to see those developers not jumping on the opportunity to build more low income housing. If you build it they will come from all over and be filled as fast as they construct them as they do now in Twentynine Palms. It should be the other way around and build them in places that has growing and expanding job opportunities with good careers so people could lift themselves up and out of poverty rather than just exist.

Branson Hunter

Plausible concept but it may increase homelessness and bring on further housing shortages in our area. Got another thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action? Should the town and city get involved in' tiny houses for temporary dwelling shelters? Not a solution for families though. Too much emphases and too much funding on Project Phoenix largely harnesses the city to a one-mule cart going in the opposite direction of beautiful infrastructure throughout the city.

TwoToeJoe

There are no housing shortages in Twentynine Palms. There is a shortage of tenants that have adequate income and the required credit references to qualify for rental contracts. The existing low income housing is filled by those from other areas escaping other much higher cost of living areas in California. No one ever relocates to Twentynine Palms for employment opportunities, career enhancement or nice neighborhoods for obvious reasons. Even retirees are no longer moving into that area because of the rampant criminal activities, parolees and meth heads roaming the streets. Even the Thursday night movie event at lucky park has to be patrolled by six deputies just to maintain order from the children of those families that live or have relocated there. Project Phoenix is a weak attempt to put lipstick on a pig while ignoring the giant Jerry Springer entertainment show that Twentynine Palms has created and subsidizes. Sorry to say but the best thing going for the Twentynine Palms area is the base which does employ some of the locals. If the Twentynine Palms city officials cleans that city up and can start drawing in self supporting people that can well afford the available homes and rentals they would not have to artificially improve the dilapidated downtown area or even build additional low income housing projects. Carte Blanche goes much further that EBT cards and it does not take an economic genius to figure that one out. If it is the homeless that people are so concerned about I would suggest that the old fire station in Desert Heights be christened as the headquarters for a community outreach center. The surrounding area could be filled with hundreds of tiny houses to shelter those poor unfortunate ones that people care so much for. I am sure those fine folks in Desert Heights would not mind.

Branson Hunter

Interesting comments 2toes. The Lear Fire Station is now owned by County Fire. It is used by county fire for training and classroom training. Again interesting post. Thanks.

Branson Hunter

2Toes: Can we agree that the homeless situation in the Basin is a community, town and city, and county problem? Can we agree that homelessness is looked upon in a stereotypical way (one brush fits all) ? Can we agree that short responses seem to increase better communications?

TwoToeJoe

Was there anything I commented on that you disagree with other than the Lear Ave fire station? The former fire station 35 located at Panorama Heights is owned by county fire. No problem there that it is being used to serve the homeless population other than with the concerned citizens that reside in that area. Copper Mountain College’s Fire/EMT program used to conduct training at the Lear Ave firehouse but last I heard it was being utilized as a warehouse. I addressed the causation of the lack of affordable housing and how filling them with economic challenged individuals causes more problems than it solves. Stop applying the bandages and start addressing the issues. It is perfectly reasonable potential tenants must show that their income is three times a property’s monthly rent before a landlord will consider them. It is perfectly reasonable that landlords prefer more accountable applicants rather than the unaccountable in rental contracts. It is perfectly reasonable to expect low income housing to built in areas where the economic climate is healthy and growing versus a stagnant and dying economy. It is not reasonable to build additional low income housing and just fill them willy nilly with the economically challenged and expect the economy to grow. Most people just do not live in a bubble and believe that chronic homelessness just occurs as a freak of nature. Most people have the common sense to realize that most of the homeless have tons of problems that are not acceptable and should not be allowed in our local community and neighborhoods. I and hopefully most other responsible citizens know for a fact that just spending billions of hard working taxpayer's money upon social problems and see those problems increasing instead of abating is a waste of time and money. I would suggest others would stop painting with a wide brush and stereotyping social ills simply as a case of the unfortunates. Enough is enough. Stop mandating the accountable responsible for the unaccountable. The cost is rapidly increasing while the problems continue to multiply. Start holding the unaccountable accountable and see if that idea has better results rather than just throwing good money after bad. I would say "the big need in Twentynine Palms" is the accountable not the other way around.Can we agree that longer responses seem to increase better communications?

booboo77

Meanwhile City "Fathers" brag about bulldozing "unsafe buildings" so the homeless can't continue seeking shelter in them. Any "official concern" is merely window-dressing- they could care less in the long run.

CookieG

Yes it is so sad. No wonder they are brazenly sleeping on people's couches and stealing parrotts when homeowners are away from home. You would think the city fathers would at least offer them a ride to Indio!

Branson Hunter

Two toes: No need to be defensive. Short answers are best. Crimp the rhetoric so we can have a more intelligent dialogue. County fire owns the building. They paid for it. I can't see a homeless person, a homeless mother, or a veteran with medical issues, walking from downtown to the Lear fire station. That's a two and a half hour walk for a and many can't make. Homelessness is all of our problems, and until the public demands better aid and housing, it will not happen. YV is obsessed with expansion and development along 62; 29 is preoccupied with the $30M project phoenix makeover. Homelessness touches and concerns many seniors living in vehicles, too proud to surface. We know the story on homeless veterans, people down on their luck. To stereotype homeless and hold it up to contempt and class issues, is just plain wrong. That is hardly getting close to solving anything.

TwoToeJoe

Here is a suggestion Branson. Place a measure on the local ballot for an assessment to be placed on our property taxes and find the truth in how much the local compassionate people have in supporting that what you claim as what the "public demands" upon the homeless. I do believe it is hard enough to get our local schools properly funded thru what we pay now in property taxes. If real compassion exist in our local community it should be a breeze. Don't look for the State and Feds providing support anytime soon because they are too busy trying to get those poor illegal immigrants free healthcare at the expense to us taxpayers. I enjoy your rhetorical characterizations of the homeless as being seniors living in vehicles, veterans and people down on their luck. A few may be due to unfortunate circumstances but most are not. Still painting with a wide brush and stereotyping? Supporting the unaccountable rob those who truly need our compassionate assistance. First thing in solving any problem is identifying the root cause. I think we have had this discussion before. The very same applies to those who are occupying government subsidized housing. I would go for expansion and development any day rather than keep throwing good money after bad. There is nothing wrong with nice neighborhoods and responsible people that contributes to our tax base that will improve our dilapidated communities right? Twentynine Palms should take the lead and get that place cleaned up instead of wasting money on the "unaccountable". Notice I did use a much better politically correct term instead of using specific contemptible words such as losers, drug addicts, welfare queens, criminals, low class and freeloaders that overly sensitive people despise. I guess the word "unaccountable" would be the new trend these days. I like it much better than the word "down on their luck" or "unfortunate". What do you think?

Branson Hunter

TT, plan a visit to the Y.V .Senior Center sometime. You will find seniors from all walks of life, the well healed, the happy, disabled seniors, some homeless Americans or veteran seniors (who experienced horrible things when sent to war zones). Some American seniors in the Basin and Morongo Valley do have an income (SSI, SSA, small pension), but they can't afford first, last and security deposit in a rising rental market. Many say high rentals or leases is basically a problem because of the souring numbers of AirBBs. Regularly and overtly trashing the homeless class is offensive. It evidences a lack of desire to understanding this complex problem from all sides.

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