CVAR bulletin information below was sourced from the City of Claremont staff and Courier article “Community remains divided over homeless housing — updated” dated May 19th, 2022.
The Citrus Valley Association of Realtors is a weekly news bulletin to sent to thousands of local Realtors.
The Safe and Transparent Committee (STC) has provided its responses—and requests for clarification—in red.
Cities Report: May-June 2022
Paraphrased from the Courier: Claremont residents have been able to attend a series of meetings on a proposal to build affordable housing for formerly homeless people.
Jamboree Housing Corporation has a plan to house formerly homeless people with special needs in a proposed 33-unit four-story building at 731 Harrison Avenue.
The project, called Larkin Place, would be limited to extremely low-income people, those who earn at or below 30% of the area median and who also have some type of disability. It would offer housing, as well as onsite resident services such as counseling, health resources, and adult enrichment and education classes.
STC response: The target population is chronically homeless.
Chronically Homeless Individuals refer to those homeless who have been continuously homeless for one year or more, or who have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years where the combined length of time homeless in those occasions is at least 12 months, and who have a diagnosable disability (e.g., serious mental illness, developmental disability, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, cognitive impairments resulting from a brain injury or chronic physical illness or disability).
STC also takes issue with the use of Housing First Funding. Some of the most disconcerting aspects of this project’s use of Housing First funding can be found here: https://law.justia.com/codes/california/2021/code-wic/division-8/chapter-6-5/section-8255/
• Tenant screening and selection practices promote accepting applicants, regardless of their sobriety or use of substances, completion of treatment, or participation in services.
• The use of alcohol or drugs in and of itself, without other lease violations, is not a reason for eviction.
• Applicants are not rejected based on poor credit or finances, criminal convictions not related to tenancy, or a lack of “housing readiness”.
• Participation in services or program compliance is not a condition of PSH.
Paraphrased from the Courier: Emotions are strong with both proponents and opponents of the project. At the core of the project’s controversy lies the very real possibility that Claremont officials, including the city council, have little or no power to prevent Larkin Place from being built. California code identifies housing as a critical issue for the state’s future and requires that “a local government not reject or make infeasible housing development projects, including emergency shelters, that contribute to meeting the need.”
STC response: We are not opposed to affordable housing or housing for the chronically homeless; however, this particular project is in the wrong location next to vulnerable seniors and children. Larkin Park playgrounds, Joslyn Senior Center, El Roble Intermediate School, and Claremont Baptist preschool are within unsafe (600-foot) proximity. State requirements for school location specifies avoiding their placement in “proximity to social hazards such as drug or alcohol abuse”. Allowing a drive access through the Larkin Park east parking lot is a further disregard for safety standards.
Paraphrased from the Courier: If a community wants to fight the construction of affordable housing, it must show a preponderance of evidence that one of five distinct conditions have been met: the city has met or exceeded its Regional Housing Needs Assessment; the project would have a specific, adverse impact on public health or safety; a specific state or federal law supersedes; the proposed project is on land zoned for agriculture or resource preservation; or the housing development is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan. None of these apply to Claremont, according to the city’s planning staff.
STC response: Safe and Transparent Claremont has illustrated the need to evaluate public health and safety since finding out about the project after the approvals were already completed and meeting with Claremont city staff in March. This project was inexplicably rushed through the approval process despite the fact that Jamboree Housing Corporation had been working with the city since at least 2019. A due diligence review of safety by having a thorough understanding the project’s target population was not performed.
During the City Council meeting when the funding was approved, you will clearly see that three of the five council members were totally unfamiliar with the project and had substantial questions about the project but were given very little information.
At that time, no mention was made of the tenant population being chronically homeless and no definition of “chronically homeless” was provided by city staff. The city claimed it needed to RUSH through city council approval so that Jamboree could make a February 2 funding deadline. Yet Jamboree had been discussing this project with City Staff for over three years. Why did the city wait three years to bring this before the council? Why were our elected officials asked to vote on this project just seven days before an important funding deadline? A project like this requires buy-in from the community. Claremont city staff did not provide time for adequate discussion and to receive resident input.
The Council was also told this vote was not a “firm commitment of funds” as approval for the project was contingent on a future affordable housing agreement. Now they are saying the January 25 vote was in fact a firm commitment and they cannot back out without suffering repercussions from the state and developer.
It was not made clear by staff that the park easement required a City Council approval, though city staff had already offered it to Jamboree. (Skip ahead to 2:00 hrs into the meeting.) https://claremontca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1542
Paraphrased from the Courier: Such projects are referred to as “by-right,” meaning the approval process is largely ministerial, including a density bonus that boosted the unit count at Larkin Place by 80%.
STC response: Zoning in this area allows for 30 units per acre—the Larkin Park housing development is 60 units per acre. It was also given four project concessions in addition to the density bonus. This represents a 94% increase over the zoned density, increasing the unit count from 17 to 33.
Paraphrased from the Courier: Several residents voiced exasperation with what they say is misinformation about the project, including the assertion that all formerly homeless people have addiction issues or are mentally ill and therefore are inherently dangerous.
STC response: Never was there an assertion that all formerly homeless people have addiction issues or are mentally ill and therefore are inherently dangerous. The assertion is that the majority of chronically homeless (many sources say up to 75%) have these issues. STC has provided factual explanation for every accusation of misinformation with no subsequent rebuttals.
Paraphrased from the Courier: According to officials, the target population in Claremont is people experiencing homelessness who are also disabled. Of that population, 50% have some type of chronic health issue that, in many cases, has been exacerbated by living on the streets. Approximately 28% exhibited some type of mental illness, while 17% had substance abuse issues.
STC response: These are HMIS statistics for Claremont’s homeless. Claremont’s homeless will not be given priority via the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES). Per County funding restrictions, no geographical preference is allowed. CES will draw from those with highest needs from the entire San Gabriel Valley (CES SPA 3).
Mental illness falls into the category of “disabled”. We are not opposed to providing housing for any disabled. We are opposed to housing chronically homeless with high needs next to the Joslyn Center, pee wee soccer fields, El Roble Intermediate School, and Claremont Baptist Preschool, and right in the center of three retirement villages.
Paraphrased from the Courier: Future tenants of Larkin Place will be vetted by the company and by county officials to ensure that they are a good fit for housing. However, overnight visitors will not be screened, which raised concerns that a multitude of unvetted guests will essentially be living there. Officials said that visitors would be limited to 21 nights per year, far fewer than was reported at the previous meeting, and would have a maximum consecutive stay of seven days.
STC response: The vetting allowed by County funding heavily restricts the ability to deny a placement and emphasizes a low barrier to entry. Quotes here are from Jamborees Tenant Selection Plan: “Project philosophy begins with an immediate focus on helping individuals get housing without preconditions and barriers to entry. Property management will accept tenants without any preconditions associated with participation in services, poor credit, or financial history, poor or lack of rental history, criminal convictions unrelated to tenancy, or behaviors that indicate a lack of “housing readiness” in accordance with practices permitted pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 8255 or other federal or State project funding sources. All applicants will be considered for housing regardless of their sobriety or substance abuse history of treatment status.”
“Intake policies are designed to ‘screen-in’ rather than screen-out applicants with the greatest barriers to housing, such as having no or very low income, poor rental history and past evictions, or criminal histories.”
STC believes a “good fit” for this area would be seniors and families, not single adults that are expected to be 60-70% male. In addition, these types of projects are known to draw drug dealers for easy targeting of people who are working diligently to stay drug free. Unvetted visitors are eligible to stay with friends. Use of the term “multitude” for the number of guests is not part of an official position of STC.
Paraphrased from the Courier: A program for tenant selection process is being developed that would give preferential access to homeless people currently living in Claremont.
STC response: County funding requirements exclude any geographic preference for tenancy. The “tenant selection process” referred to here was recently agreed upon by Jamboree, wherein staff recently committed to reaching out to Claremont’s homeless population six months prior to starting lease up to assist them in getting registered into the CES system. This is hopeful assistance and does not ensure that Claremont’s homeless population will be prioritized or benefit from this housing project.