The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved funding for transitional housing for the homeless community in Grover Beach.
The board approved the funding in a 3-2 vote. District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton and District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold voted ‘no.’ Supervisors John Peschong, Bruce Gibson, and Adam Hill all voted ‘yes.’
Public comment for the hot button issue lasted about three hours.
During Tuesday’s meeting, county supervisors eyed the pros and cons of funding the joint housing project by the Five Cities Homeless Coalition and People’s Self Help Housing.
The $2.6 million would be used to purchase the Hillside Church property in Grover Beach, providing services for homeless and at-risk youth.
“They’re trying to get them to the point where they won’t be on the street in 20 to 30 years,” said Betsy Ehrler, President of South County People’s Kitchen. Ehrler is a supporter of the housing project.
County supervisors and homeless advocates agreed that southern San Luis Obispo County needs the funding, but there’s still disagreement on the location of the proposed project in Grover Beach.
“I think clearly there should be a spot that isn’t zoned R1 surrounded by single-family homes for this complex to go,” said William Ashley, an Arroyo Grande resident who lives near the proposed project location.
Residents packed Tuesday’s meeting, voicing concerns about crime, traffic, and property values.
“Some of these people aren’t real stable, so that’s a big concern,” Ashley added.
Advocates for the housing project say some of the fear is unfounded.
“People that are homeless are not necessarily scary because they’re homeless. They’re wonderful, sweet people,” said Ehrler. “They’re not necessarily thieves because they’re homeless. They’re being maligned and it’s really kinda sad.”
San Luis Obispo County was in charge of allocating the funds. Now, the issue will go to the Grocer Beach City Council to discuss zoning and how the project fits into their city.
Another $1.5 million worth of grant funding was approved to be used for the construction of the first-ever homeless shelter in Paso Robles and the expansion of the existing ECHO Shelter in Atascadero.
An additional $400,000 will go to a detox program at 40 Prado in San Luis Obispo.