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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.”