(Apple Valley)– Churches, non-profits and social service agencies recently came together with Town staff to discuss possible solutions to the problem of homelessness in Apple Valley. The goal was to foster communication among the agencies, and facilitate the development of a community-based solution.
In February, Calvin Davidson, a homeless man living in Apple Valley, was found dead after a night of freezing temperatures. Residents came forward asking the Town Council what could be done to prevent something like this from happening again.
Frank Robinson, Town Manager, in addressing the nearly 40 people in attendance, indicated the Town of Apple Valley is not in a position to open and operate a homeless shelter. However staff shared information on related zoning and code enforcement provisions. Many were surprised to learn that the Development Code already contains provisions to make it easier to open a shelter in preferred zoning areas. For example, entitlement fees are waived for an emergency shelter proposed in a commercial-service zone. Emergency shelters are defined as providing immediate, short-term housing for the homeless.
Many of the agencies represented have been providing services in the area for many years, and yet all still learned of programs already available of which they were unaware. A number of faith-based organizations and churches expressed a willingness to expand what they offer, and to combine resources for a community-based solution.
Susie Hollenbeck, Executive Director of High Desert Homeless Services, urged the group to add to the services already offered in the area, rather than duplicate. In particular, emergency shelter options for the chronically homeless are limited. High Desert Homeless Services provides temporary, transitional housing, for the homeless that are trying to find work and a permanent place to live.
Town staff is facilitating one more meeting of a core group of community leaders drawn from the first workshop on August 11 at 10:00 a.m. in the Apple Valley Conference Center. At that time the lead will be handed over to the informal coalition for the next steps.