Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Commentary by Samuel Strait – February 21, 2023

It may lack the guard towers and the barbed wire, but the Del Norte
County Board of Supervisors recently gave the nod to Alison Ramsey of
True North Organizing for the construction of a pallet house “village”
to house the County’s homeless population, pending receipt of $7 to $8
million dollars of grant funding.  The “houses” for the “village” are to
be purchased from a Washington State business that builds prefab
glorified garden sheds at a cost of $7,500 for the 56 square foot version
and a bit more for the 10 X 10 edition.  The company in question, Pallet,
has been in operation for the past two years and has found takers for
their sheds throughout the United States for the Country’s homeless.

Originally costing $5,500 for the fifty six square foot model, the
Country’s inflation has driven the cost up to $7500 per unit.  Ms.
Ramsey and Del Norte’s Mission Possible Daphne Cortese-Lambert intend to
solve the homeless problem in the County with a 30 unit Pallet Home
“village ” on a Williams Drive site near the former Del Norte Juvenile
Hall.  Guess it is no longer a secret of what will happen to Juvenile
Hall.  In any event the “village”, encampment, or what ever else the
County chooses to call it will have the thirty units, plus two
“navigational centers”, a kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms/showers
surrounded by fencing.  The inmates, err, Homeless, have to be made to
feel safe after all. It is intended to be staffed by Health and Human
Services, another great idea to grow the Department by maybe a couple of
dozen new employees, and be secured 24/7 for all thirty of its
inductees. It is meant to be a “one stop shop” to fuel the need for
transitioning the homeless population back into “polite society”.

It is not clear how the selection process for admission to the project
will be, as it represents but a token amount of space for the County’s
burgeoning homeless population.  Similarly the grant of millions seems
at odds with the cost of purchasing 30 units, $225,000 plus related
infrastructure;  hence, staffing and the fencing must be quite
expensive.  The units themselves are foam cored siding and roofs, with
aluminum framing, not exactly a good choice for the coast, a few windows
and a lockable door.   Early versions of the units had security issues; 
hence, the provided security and fencing.   The only other issues seem
to stem from the haste in selecting the site and its proximity to local
children.  But hey, February 28th is coming up rapidly and Ms. Ramsey’s
got to get that application in for some grant funding.

Aside from voting to bend the rules a bit to allow for housing people in
“garden sheds”, Ms. Ramsey and Ms. Cortese-Lambert are off to the races
compliments of a 4-1 vote by the County’s “brain trust”.  Naturally the
BOS, in their haste to get the ball rolling made little effort, aside
from Supervisor Borges, to determine if such a plunge into County owned
homeless “villages” was in fact prudent.   Problems in other “villages”
ranged from sanitation, difficulties in maintenance, trash, security,
drug and alcohol use, and a smattering of other problems.  Units are
meant to last ten years, but some do not last more than six months
before being condemned.  The reality of the problem is not the “village”
itself, but the fact that once such efforts by local government exist,
the costs simply magnify and the problem being addressed simply
increases.  Look for the homeless population to continue to increase in
the coming years.  Gulag #2, #3 and so on into the future.

Clearly this is another example at the local level of making it appear
that this problem was on the County leadership’s radar and “something”
must be done.  An Ad Hoc committee formed was the typical first response
which of course included some of the local “experts”, and then full
steam ahead.  Dust off that “plan” from 2021 authored by True North and
we have the makings of government in action.  What could possibly go wrong?

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