Egan said low-income housing project at old hospital has been approved — questions the value of re-vetting the project

During unagendized reports, at the Tuesday, Feb. 27, Lassen County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh said District 2 Supervisor Gary Bridges, who was absent, wants to hold an evening meeting to discuss the low-income housing project at the old Lassen Hospital near Diamond View School.

The site of a 15-unit low-income housing project at the old hospital.

The Diamond View school board recently expressed concerns about the housing project being located so near the school.

Egan suggested an evening special meeting and a regular meeting held Monday, March 11, but some supervisors said they were unable to attend that day, so no date has been set.

But Egan reminded and advised the board, the project has already been approved.

The site of a 15-unit low-income housing project at the old hospital.

“One of the things I would like to clarify regarding Project Homekey is that the board has adopted a resolution that does a couple of things,” Egan said. “One, it authorizes that application has been made and approved by the state. Secondly, it authorizes and directs me to execute the agreement. So, I understand the desire to have a public vetting of this, but I think it’s important to recognize the decision’s been made. It was made last July to move forward with this project.

“I have not exercised that authority to execute the agreement because it’s not prepared yet and there are some logistical and legal issues … I expect it any time. There are a few legal and logistical issues we need to reconcile before I’m comfortable signing it.

“If the purpose of the meeting is to re-vett that project, I’m not sure of the value of that.”

District 3 Supervisor Tom Neely said he did not remember voting on that project in July. He thought it was in November or December.

“There was a very short time frame that the application had to be prepared and submitted,” Egan said. “It was in the summertime; I want to say July.”

District 5 Supervisor Jason Ingram said the board unanimously approved the application in July.

Egan said although the board couldn’t find a good date to hold an evening public meeting on the topic, he expects the standard agreement will come in before then.

Albaugh said he would work with the interested parties to arrange the meeting.

 

Supes direct staff to move forward with two supportive housing projects
Publisher’s note: Lassen News published this story July 14, 2023. Danco later abandoned its project because it would not be able to meet the required time frames.

If everything goes according to plan, the Travel Inn on Main Street near Lassen High School, could provide about 40 housing units for the homeless. 

Facing rapidly approaching deadlines to apply for funding, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors unanimously directed county staff to move forward with two proposed Homekey projects.

According to an item on the May 23 Board of Supervisors agenda, the California Department of Housing and Community Development published a Notice of Funding Availability for the Round 3 Homekey Program.

According to that agenda packet item, “The Homekey Program is an opportunity for public entities to develop a broad range of housing types, including but not limited to the quick conversion of motels to permanent housing.

“Housing developed through the Homekey Program must be for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness and who are inherently impacted by or at increased risk for medical diseases or conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other communicable diseases.”

The supervisors directed staff to put out a Request for Proposals, and the county received two qualifying proposals from CoWest Investments and Danco Communities.

Grace Poor, Housing Program Manager for Lassen County’s Health and Human Services, presented information for the board at its Tuesday, July 11 meeting.

She said the Homekey Program is designed to, among other things, provide funding to convert existing facilities into permanent housing.

“CoWest Investments is proposing a Homekey project that would convert a former walk-in medical clinic into 10 units with a potential focus on homeless youth … “

Poor said CoWest has experience rehabbing older buildings and has in-depth knowledge of Lassen County. That property is located on Hospital Lane and could eventually be expanded to as many as 30 or 40 units in the future, and possibly provide housing for Lassen Community College students as well.

She said Danco Communities proposes a Homekey Project that would convert a local motel into 30 or 40 units. She said Danco Communities has extensive experience developing permanent supportive housing and Homekey Projects.

“We think both of these projects would benefit the community,” Poor said. “We’re hoping to get the board’s approval to move forward with applying to the state for funding for both projects.”

Poor said she didn’t know what state funding would still be available for these projects, but she’s heard money is available for projects in rural areas. She said the bidding process is competitive.

District 5 Supervisor Jason Ingram asked how Megan’s Law would affect the projects.

“The law does allow for background checks to screen out certain types of offenses, including high level sex offenses,” Poor said.

Melanie Westbrook, co-manager of CoWest Investments, said her company is in escrow to purchase the property at 560 Hospital Lane for 18- to 24-year-olds. She said the phased project would begin with 10 units, and the next phase would be to provide off-campus housing for Lassen Community College students. She said there would not be an on-site manager initially, and the project could grow to “an easy 40” units in the main building and maybe more in the future.

She said she’s spoken to an official at LCC who told her there are homeless college students living by the river, so there is a definite need.

She said the CoWest plan is for 650 to 700 square foot, one-bedroom apartments in a facility above Diamond View School.

Chris Dart, of Danco Communities, said his company is talking with the owner of the 40-unit Travel Inn Motel on Main Street. He said the owner also owns vacant piece of property adjacent to the motel that could be developed into more units in the future.

“We haven’t put the deal together, depending upon how this goes, we’re going to do that today,” Dart said. “But we preliminarily have an agreement on that depending upon how this goes.”

Danco’s plan includes converting a couple of the units into a community space, and plans are to upgrade the units into kitchenettes. This would be the sixth project of its kind for Danco.

District 1 Supervisor Gary Bridges asked County Administrative Officer Richard Egan if there were issues with a county project within the Susanville city limits, and Egan said no because the city is within the county’s jurisdiction.

Dart said the funding comes from the county, and the permitting would be handled by the city. He said this facility would be available to people of all ages.

Bridges told Dart he “wasn’t comfortable” with such a facility right across from the high school, but Dart said his company would actively manage the property, fence it and keep track of who comes and goes.

Poor said there already is a population living at the Travel Inn that the county has no control over.

Ingram said his family stayed at the motel during a recent fire and the facility was terrible.

He asked which district these projects were in because he wanted to hear that supervisor’s opinion of the proposed projects before he gave direction to staff. The Travel Inn is in District 2, represented by Bridges, but no one knew which supervisor represents the hospital property.

Bridges said, “I’m on the Behavorial Health Board, and there’s a huge need for this. This won’t fill the need, but it will sure work toward it.”

The board directed staff to submit funding applications for both projects. Poor said staff would bring back resolutions to the board’s meeting on July 25 with information about the dollar amounts sought, and the application deadline is July 28.

 

Public fight brews over hospital housing project — SSD asks for public’s help to stop project near Diamond View School
Publisher’s note: This story published on lassennews.com Feb. 2, 2024.

A bit of turbulence shakes the community regarding an already approved and funded Homekey Project facility for low-income people in Susanville.

The Susanville School District asks for the public’s help in stopping this project planned to be built at a portion of the old hospital near Diamond View School.

Grace Poor, Housing Program Manager for Lassen County’s Health and Human Services, said the county will provide an update on the Homekey Program project at the Lassen County Board of Supervisor’s Feb. 13 meeting.

On Jan. 19, Lassen County and ColWest Investments announced a $2,9 million grant had been received to convert a former medical facility in Susanville into 15 units of permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Ten of these units will be for young adults, ages 18 to 24 years old. That announcement is included with this story.

Other Lassen News stories on this topic may be found at lassennews.com/public-meeting-on-affordable-and-supportive-housing-development-planned-for-tuesday-march-14-at-jensen-hall (March 7, 2023) lassennews.com/?s=Homekey (June 1, 2023) and lassennews.com/supes-direct-staff-to-move-forward-with-two-supportive-housing-projects (July 14, 2023).

 

Here is the text of the SSD letter
We want Diamond View to be a safe place for kids to go to school! Please help!

On Friday, Jan. 19, the Lassen County Health and Social Services Housing and Grants Division issued a press release informing the community and Diamond View of their plan to build 15 units of permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Ten of these units (being) for young adults, ages 18-24 years old. At first glance, this may look like a helpful development for young adults experiencing hardship. Still, with closer consideration, it is clear that this housing development could be a significant threat to our local youth if allowed to occur.

Through veiled language, the press release identifies the location as “a former medical facility in Susanville.” Locals will know the location as the “old hospital.” Yes, the vacant and neglected facility that neighbors Diamond View’s entire western property line. If allowed to be built, Diamond View will be permanent neighbors with a housing project dedicated to people experiencing homelessness.

Geographically, the location of this housing project allows for an unobstructed view of the majority of Diamond View Campus. To complicate matters, state law does not allow for things like background checks for the tenants of these units, including criminal records, mental health records, substance abuse/addiction, drug testing, or employment.

Needless to say, this could significantly impact Diamond View students and all programs that utilize Diamond View facilities.

Diamond View’s concern is the proximity of this housing project to our vulnerable student population. Although there is a need to help the homeless population, we fear for our students and the exposure to inevitable crime, drugs, alcohol, mental illness and violence that accompany housing projects for the homeless.

This concern is greatly increased by the target service age of 18-24 — an age prone to volatility, substance abuse, violent behavior, sexual assault and the like. Eighteen- to 24-year-old residents are at a particularly tempting and threatening age for our 11-14-year-old Diamond View students.

Diamond View is home to more than 300 students per year. We are the local middle school for our town. Our playground and fields are the primary practice locations for local youth football, serving hundreds of children ranging in age from 5-14 years old from across Lassen and Plumas County. Our softball fields are utilized for youth softball and baseball practices. Our gymnasium is used nearly year-round for local youth basketball and volleyball. For a primary school to be fence line neighbors with a housing development for the homeless is simply not a good thing for our community, and more specifically it is a dangerous and irresponsible exposure for our local youth.

This housing project could provide services to a small number of homeless adults at the expense of countless children and every single child to go through Susanville School District now and for the foreseeable future.

Diamond View’s primary concern is for the safety of our students and local youth. Please help us in preventing this housing project from being built.

You can help by contacting the Lassen County Board of Supervisors, who holds authority to approve of or disapprove of the project. Follow the link below for their names and contact information.

Please contact Col West Investments LCC, Melanie Westbrook, as they are the property owners and can decide not to go through with building even if the county board approves of the project.

Please contact Lassen County Health and Social Services with questions about the project if further information is needed prior to taking a stance.

Lassen County Board of Supervisors
https://www.lassencounty.org/dept/board-supervisors/board-supervisors

ColWest Investments, LCC
Melanie Westbrook
(530) 249-1061
Melaniewestbrook80@gmail.com

Lassen County Health and Social Services
Grace Poor
(530) 251-8336
gpoor@co.lassen.ca.us

Thank you all on the behalf of Diamond View Middle School Staff, School Administration, and the Susanville Teacher’s Association.

 

Here is the county’s Jan. 19 announcement
RE: Lassen County and ColWest Investments to receive a Homekey grant

On Jan. 18, 2024, Governor Gavin Newsom announced grant awards from the third round of Homekey, an initiative to help communities to address the challenge of homelessness by rapidly expanding the availability of housing for at-risk individuals and families.

“Homekey is a national model for rapidly creating affordable housing for Californians in need,” said Newsom. “In a few short years, this initiative has created more than 15,000 homes, to help over 163,000 people. Homekey demonstrates what is possible when people think outside the box and refuse to accept the status quo.”

Homekey Round 3 grant funding – administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development – is an opportunity for communities to quickly develop permanent housing for people experiencing or at risk for homelessness. This includes the development of housing specifically for young people transitioning to adulthood from foster care or an unsafe environment.

“Over a three-year period, Homekey has funded projects that will provide housing security to more than 163,000 Californians over the decades to come,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The current set of awards includes housing dedicated to veterans, and the conversion of a shuttered hospital to shelter those experiencing homelessness. This program has allowed jurisdictions to get creative with adaptive reuse of existing spaces, and with providing a full array of services that help make homelessness rare, one time, and non-recurrent.”

Lassen County and ColWest Investments were awarded $2,917,454.00 to convert a former medical facility in Susanville into 15 units of permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Ten of these units will be for young adults, ages 18-24 years old.

Updates and opportunities for feedback will be posted at: lassencounty.org/dept/housing- and-grants/lassen-county-housing-and-grants.

Additional information on Homekey can be found at: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/grants-and- funding/homekey.