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File #: 2021-1080   
Type: Consent Calendar Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 7/20/2021
Title: Recommendation to Authorize the City Manager to Execute a One-Year Agreement with Operation Dignity to Provide Mobile Outreach Services for Alameda's Homeless Population in an Amount Not to Exceed $149,717 for Fiscal Year 2021-22; and Adoption of Resolution Amending the General Fund Budget to Appropriate an Additional $27,317 for Operation Dignity to Provide Mobile Outreach Services. (Community Development 10061833)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Contract, 2. Resolution

Title

 

Recommendation to Authorize the City Manager to Execute a One-Year Agreement with Operation Dignity to Provide Mobile Outreach Services for Alameda’s Homeless Population in an Amount Not to Exceed $149,717 for Fiscal Year 2021-22; and

Adoption of Resolution Amending the General Fund Budget to Appropriate an Additional $27,317 for Operation Dignity to Provide Mobile Outreach Services. (Community Development 10061833)

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The global crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our community in this unprecedented time in our history.  According to the 2019 Point-In-Time count, Alameda had 231 individuals living in temporary shelters, encampments, parking lots, bridge underpasses, tunnel entrances, parks, sidewalks, and other areas not suitable for human habitation.  Staff and community providers believe that this number has grown during the pandemic.  Moreover, as we emerge from this crisis and life returns to a new normal, residents who have been sheltered may become unsheltered when the eviction moratorium is lifted.

 

Operation Dignity’s (OD) mobile outreach team provides street-based harm reduction services, case management, housing navigation, and other supportive services in Alameda.  During the pandemic, OD’s mobile outreach team has been instrumental in identifying homeless individuals who show symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as helping the individuals find a space in Alameda County’s Operation Comfort motels to quarantine.  This team has also helped with referring elderly and medically-fragile unhoused Alamedans to shelters with an open bed.

 

OD’s current contract is expiring and staff is recommending that the City Council authorize the City Manager to execute a $149,717 contract with OD to provide mobile outreach services for Alameda’s homeless residents for Fiscal Year 2021-22, so that the City can continue offering these vital services to its unhoused population.  The fiscal year 2021-22 mobile outreach budget appropriation included $122,400 for OD’s contract.  Staff is recommending an additional $27,317 for a full-time outreach worker, an increase in salary for a housing navigator, and increased direct and indirect expenses.  

 

BACKGROUND

 

OD is a non-profit organization that has been at the forefront of fighting homelessness in Alameda County since 1993.  OD provides shelter, housing, street outreach, and supportive services to people experiencing homelessness, with particular expertise in serving homeless veterans.  In 2016, OD was instrumental in assisting the City with developing a plan to dismantle the homeless encampment situated at the future Jean Sweeney Park.  This encampment was dismantled in July 2017 to make way for construction of the park.  Since then, OD has been providing critical supportive services for the unhoused in the city. 

 

As a mobile outreach provider serving the unhoused population in the city since 2016, OD meets with clients wherever they are located, including encampments, parking lots, bridge underpasses, tunnel entrances, parks, sidewalks, and other locations on the street.   Building trust and connecting with clients to increase their receptivity to services is an important strategy for OD’s mobile outreach team.  OD staff conducts street outreach and harm-reduction support to Alameda’s homeless Monday through Friday.  Activities promote and address clients’ safety and wellness and include distribution of food and water, hygiene kits, blankets, first aid kits, and like items.  OD gets clients “housing-ready” by helping them clear traffic tickets and other citations, apply for identification cards, apply for jobs, and enroll in public benefits.  OD provides transportation to and from appointments and supports clients with housing applications and interviews with landlords. 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Mobile outreach provides critical support for Alameda’s unhoused population by reducing harmful risks, keeping them well, and helping carve a path to end their homelessness and to become self-sufficient.  Homelessness continues to be a crisis in the Bay Area and in California.  Alameda County’s homeless population grew by 43% in the two years between 2017 and 2019.  During this same period, people experiencing homelessness in Alameda increased by 13% from 204 to 231.  Based on observations, staff believes that homelessness in Alameda has increased since 2019.  However, due to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) required 2021 Point-in-Time count, officially documenting the number of homeless every two years in all of Alameda County incorporated and unincorporated areas, was delayed to 2022.

 

Housing shortages coupled with high rental costs have been major contributors to homelessness in the region.  The economic downturn and massive unemployment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the eventual end of the eviction moratorium will further exacerbate this issue.  Now, more than ever, support for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at-risk of becoming homeless is sorely needed.  Funding OD’s mobile outreach efforts is essential in providing compassionate and vital support to those challenged with homelessness and living on the streets in Alameda, while helping them find a way out of homelessness. 

 

OD’s outreach efforts include the FEMA trailer site where OD conducts weekly inspections of the trailers and safety checks of the residents.  OD coordinates with the Alameda Food Bank to pick up and deliver groceries to the FEMA trailer residents.  In advance of the City performing a clean-up at an encampment, OD provides notices to the residents, so they may have an opportunity to gather their belongings.   

 

OD’s mobile outreach services were indispensable during the COVID-19 pandemic.  OD is one of a handful of nonprofit organizations trained and authorized by Alameda County to identify, assess, and refer unhoused individuals that show symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone that tested positive for the virus.  OD then assists these individuals with finding a place to quarantine so that they can properly shelter and heal.

 

The compensation of OD included in their contract has not increased since 2016, despite the increase in the city’s homeless population and impacts of the pandemic. Accordingly, staff is recommending the following changes to OD’s compensation: (i) a cost of living increase, and (ii) a .30 percent full time equivalent position increase in the street outreach worker’s time. This will provide the City with a full-time street outreach worker instead of the .70 percent time worker that was previously available to the City for outreach services.

 

Staff recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager to execute a contract, as described above, with OD to provide mobile outreach services for Alameda’s homeless population for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22.

 

The FY 2021-22 mobile outreach budget appropriation included $122,400 for OD’s contract.  Staff is also recommending an additional $27,317 for a full-time outreach worker (currently the budget supports 70 percent of a full-time outreach worker’s time), support of an outreach program manager (previously an outreach program coordinator), an increase in salary for a housing navigator, and an increase in direct and indirect expenses.  

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

                     Approve the contract and appropriation as recommended.

                     Approve the contract with revisions determined necessary by the City Council with no new appropriation.

                     Deny approval of the contract and the appropriation and direct staff to solicit a different proposal for mobile outreach homeless services.

                     Take no action.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

On June 15, 2021, City Council approved General Fund funding for mobile outreach services as part of the two-year budget cycle in the amount of $122,400. Additional General Fund appropriations in the amount of $27,317 is needed to fully fund this contract.

 

Budget Request 

Revenue/ Expenditure

Fund Number

Fund Description

Account String

Budget Amount

New Appropriation Request

Increase Expenditure Budget

100

General Fund

10061833-52010

$27,317

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

This action is consistent with the Social Services Human Relations Board Charter and Ordinance authority “to improve social services in the community” (Alameda Municipal Code Section 2-11.5) and the Report on Homelessness Policies and Programs.

 

CLIMATE IMPACTS

 

The Social Vulnerability Assessment section of the draft Climate Action and Resiliency Plan states: 

 

“adaptation strategies should consider how [the homeless] will receive emergency communications and how they will be sheltered.  Proper, safe housing for all is an adaptation and resilience strategy.  Planning strategies should always consider these vulnerable populations in adaptation efforts.”

 

Mobile outreach funding will help some of the most vulnerable in our community with the consequences of climate change.  Mobile outreach workers may be deployed to reach and help unsheltered individuals in order to connect them to services and other assistance. 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

This action is not a project for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA guidelines section 15061(b)(3) as there is no possibility that this action may have a significant effect on the environment.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Adopt a resolution amending the General Fund budget to appropriate an additional $27,317 for Operation Dignity to provide mobile outreach services; and

 

Authorize the City Manager to execute a $149,717 contract with Operation Dignity to provide mobile outreach services for Alameda’s homeless population for Fiscal Year 2021-22.

 

CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Manager concurs with Community Development’s recommendation execute $149,717 with Operation Dignity for mobile outreach services for 2021-2022.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Lisa Maxwell, Community Development Director

 

By:

Lois Butler, Economic Development Manager

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Annie To, Finance Director

 

Exhibit: 

1.                     Contract with Operation Dignity for Mobile Outreach Services

 

cc:                      Eric Levitt, City Manager

Gerry Beaudin, Assistant City Manager