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

Public fight brews over hospital housing project — SSD asks for public’s help to stop project near Diamond View School

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).

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

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, LCC 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 f15 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.