The COC and a Vision for Collaboration on Homelessness in Shasta County

The Continuum of Care (COC) is a collaboration of local organizations working to address homelessness required by the federal government to receive certain homelessness funding. You can read more about it here or watch presentations at yesterday’s Board meeting to learn more.

When it comes to reducing homelessness, collaboration is key. As a result, the COC is key.

There has been tension between the County and the COC since the County withdrew from its role as the lead agency last summer. These tensions came to the forefront last week when one county supervisor raised concerns about the COC’s recent actions and requested a presentation from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency Director at yesterday’s meeting. 

The County, or at least this supervisor, seems to be making 2 requests of the COC:

  1. Cover the continued costs incurred by the County for work connected to its time as the lead agency – an amount that the County has said is likely more than $180,000
  2. Grant the County a seat on the NorCal COC Executive Board

Here are my recommendations for paving a path to a better working relationship in the future that results in reduced homelessness in our community:

  • County: If the County would like to request funds from the COC to cover ongoing costs, I’d recommend it taking the following steps:
    • Clearly document the costs incurred and likely to be incurred
    • Demonstrate how funds already allocated to the County for playing the lead agency role are insufficient to cover those costs
    • Provide an update on County fund balance, COC CONTRACT SERVICE REV, which is restricted for use on expenses related to administering the COC and showed a balance of $108,901 in the 2023-24 budget. Is this money still in the fund? If so, can it be used to cover these costs? If not, how will these funds be used?
    • Recommend to the COC where the funds should come from within the COC budget to cover the County costs, given the COC is projecting a $760,032 shortfall for the administration of the COC over the next 2 years
  • COC: While not required by its bylaws, I’d ask the COC to re-open the appointment process for Shasta’s representative to the Executive Board in January 2025, as they did earlier this year. The Shasta COC Advisory Board members should be able to choose who they believe would best represent them on the Executive Board. If the County wants to win the support of those members, it has 7 months to do so.
  • County Supervisors: Propose adding a representative of the COC to the AT HOME Shasta Committee to be a consistent voice for the COC in those important meetings, which involved the development of a 3-year plan that assigned many tasks to the COC.
  • County: Request that the COC present to the Board of Supervisors during public meetings every 2-4 months on changes in our homeless population (like this data) and how homeless funding (known as HHAP) is being allocated and spent. As I have talked about a lot, this will help us hold ourselves accountable to deliver results for the community.

I believe we can make tremendous progress on the homelessness challenge if we focus on working together to deliver results for the community and begin all rowing in the same direction.