Oxnard Taxpayers Paying Twice For Homeless Services

By Doug Partello

For Fiscal Year 21-22, the City of Oxnard is paying Mercy House, an outside vendor, $2,196,600.00 for being the service provider for the K Street, and PAL  temporary homeless shelters. Their contract stipulates that the contractor is responsible for providing toilet, shower, and laundry service to the homeless. Yet, we have an additional $383,000.00 from the General Fund paying for these services. The City Council unanimously voted for the increase of $98,043.59 for these services, on September 21, 2021. The contract for these services with Major Event Trailers (MET) started 3/1/2020, with end date 12/31/2021. Agreement No. A-8227.

The amended contract with MET states that Mercy House has assumed this obligation as of July 1, 2021. That is very interesting, seeing that MET contract runs until 12/31/2021.  The start date for MET, 3/1/2020, also is within the dates of contracts with Mercy House, stating that MH is responsible for these services. It seems the taxpayers are paying twice for the same services.

Initially, the shelter was just the K Street site, but COVID spacing required the PAC site to be added. The Mercy House contract total price tag is $2,969,600.00, with $500,000.00 coming from Housing Assistance and Prevention (HHAP)  HUD grant funds. The K Street and PAL shelters have a total capacity of 110 persons, with COVID spacing requirements. The Mercy House contract stipulates that they are obligated to maintain 75% capacity, or 82.5 persons. On any given night, they are having 60-80 persons.

 

PRA 21-301 – A-8227 (1)

PRA 21-301 A-8194 plus 3 amendments(1)-1

Oxnard City Council Agenda Report

 

 

The MET contract is for a 12-station shower trailer, 1-single-stall ADA-accessible shower trailer, 8-stall ADA-accessible restroom trailer, a laundry and dryer trailer. The MH security guard on-duty stated that the  8-stall restroom trailer are only for staff, not for the homeless. No comment from Mercy House management. That trailer is not ADA-accessible. There are two toilets in the Armory building, which the homeless have access to use. They are poorly maintained, and not ADA-accessible. The reasoning given for the MET contract for mobile trailers, from the 9/21/21 City Council Meeting agenda report, Agenda Item L-4:

The building in which the shelter is located was constructed over sixty years ago and was originally configured and designed for National Guard operations, which at the time were restricted to males only. The restroom and shower facilities in the building are minimal and do not meet current requirements regarding accessibility, and are insufficient in number to serve a client population of over one hundred residents. In addition, the building has no on-site laundry area or facilities.

When the City Council votes unanimously for such increases, as the $98,000 increase in restroom, shower, and laundry service, and the initial $285,000 for this, it makes one wonder if they understood that we had already paid for this in the Mercy House contract, which they also voted unanimously for. When the public and the City Council are sold on these expenses, as services for the homeless, why was the fact that the mobile restrooms are only for Mercy House staff not disclosed? They certainly should have access to restrooms, just let everyone know that these units are for them, and not the homeless. Could it be that these really expensive mobile restrooms going for the Mercy House staff, and not the homeless would look bad? They have only two to three staff persons onsite during the day. Why is there a need an 8-stall trailer, which must be more expensive than a 4-stall one, if only to be used by MH staff?

The cost for providing temporary shelter for this small segment of the homeless in Oxnard is quite high, as we can see. It is estimated that there could be as many as one thousand homeless in Oxnard.  The problem is far greater than the funds available to address this issue that affects us collectively as a community, city, and society. We need to make sure that the limited funds available are used wisely, and correctly. It makes one wonder how many homeless that are left out in the cold could have gained access to shelter, and services, if the money were better spent. When household budgets are squeezed tighter, and tighter, such wasteful spending, and double spending of hard earned tax dollars could have remained in those households. Families are less likely to end up homeless because they cannot make it to the end of each month, with enough to house and feed their own families.

PRA 21-301 – A-8227 (1) Oxnard City Council Agenda Report PRA 21-301 A-8194 plus 3 amendments(1)-1

Correction: This article original referenced PAC. It’s been corrected to PAL.


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BruceBoyer, candidate for VC sheriff

THE UNHOUSED COMPLEX. RUN THE NUMBERS THAT NEARLY $3 MILLION FOR AN AVG OF 70 PER NIGHT WORKS OUT TO $166 PER PERSON PER NIGHT. Whether it’s Fed State or City $ it is all of it our tax dollars and the corrupt pols are ripping us off! I have never accepted that it is my responsibility to provide ‘housing” for other than myself my kids. To force taxpayers to support people who choose their situation is theft. There is an unlimited number of ‘homeless”. They will go to where the best handouts are. They will take our tax dollars until its all gone. As sheriff; I will enforce vagrancy laws. The Courts say they need a place to stay? OK Ill set up a campground. There are some parts of the County that get mighty cold at night. If need ‘barracks” that can be done, cheap. If the location is remote they wont want to stay there, but that satisfies the Court… If we do not change the recipe our County will look just like Downtown LA and fast. I care not if bleed’n hearts want to say I am ‘mean”. They bleed’n hearts can move the ‘unhoused into their homes, they won’t cause they want us to pay for their ‘generosity”. End this!

Douglas Partello

Blaming the homeless for wasteful spending, and “double dipping” is an interesting point of view. Most of them would take the sanctioned encampment, versus $100/night hotel rooms. There are much more cost effective ways to provide shelter than what is being done. We need accountability on both sides of the equation.
The conditions of our military in the field versus that offered the homeless brings the point home. We need to be compassionate, but also live within our means. The main ones that are benefiting from the current homeless programs are “The Homeless Industrial Complex”. Service providers, and government bureaucrats are getting rich kicking the can down the road.

Douglas Partello

Can you give us the code numbers of the “vagrancy laws” in Ventura County, where you hope to be sheriff? Other than not “giving” anything to the unsheltered, what is your solution to the homeless crisis?

C E Voigtsberger

When I think back to the facilities we used when I was in the Marine Corps, it is no wonder the cost of government has ballooned so much. In boot camp, in wooden barracks built during WWII, 48 recruits managed to shower in under twenty minutes with 12 shower heads in one room. We used toilets in an open room where everybody was able to see what everybody else was doing. We slept in double bunk beds in one large room.

Moving on to Tent Camp Two at Camp San Onofre, Camp J. H. Pendleton right here in sunny California. Tent Camp 2 was exactly what its name said it was. Wall tents with kerosene stoves for warmth and a single 100 watt bulb for lights. Showers and toilet facilities were a step up in Butler buildings. Tent Camp 2 was okay for refugees from Vietnam after we bugged out of that benighted country. After they moved all the refugees out Tent Camp 2 was closed. It was four men to a tent with wall lockers and foot lockers for storage of personal belongings. In December it was mighty chilly in the tent in the foothills of Tent Camp 2 even with the kerosene heater going at night.

I can remember some years back when dependent housing at one of the bases in San Diego was declared surplus and the County of San Diego was asked if they wanted to use them for homeless housing. The county officials were outraged as they declared the recently vacated dependent housing totally unfit for human habitation according to current standards.

Gee, I wonder how the sailors’ and marines’ families felt when the housing they had recently vacated was declared unfit for human habitation by the homeless who had been sleeping under freeway overpasses and in culverts.

I had a discussion with my nephew some years back. He had visited a dormitory for the mentally ill. He was outraged that they all slept in a large room with only a foot locker to store their belongings in and worst of all, they had to watch a single TV set in the large day room. He felt they were entitled to private rooms and individual TV sets. I reminded him that while we have a duty to care for our unfortunate citizens who are unable to care for themselves, that duty does not mean a four star hotel with private sanitary facilities and large screen private TV sets. It means adequately heated facilities providing shelter from the elements, a clean place to sleep, a safe place to store their belongings, adequate nutrition and some means for passing the time.

Does anyone remember the quarter million dollar public toilet in the park in front of the post office some years back? That was at a time when the median house in Ventura County cost $50,000. But the city spent a quarter million for a public toilet. I always wondered how many years the city could have rented Porta Potties for a quarter million?

Had we had facilities such as the homeless seem to have in Oxnard, we would have thought we were in the air force or some such.Private rooms? Private toilet and shower facilities?

It seems to me we have lost sight of what our duty to those who won’t work really is.

Douglas Partello

Sure puts things into perspective, from one of our military, who should get the best we can offer. Thank you for your service, C.E.

Vernon

Yawn. Go back to sleep Boomer.

Douglas Partello

The second site for the shelter is the PAL,which is also on K Street, Oxnard, not PAC.