Plight of homeless people is major topic during Fontana City Council meeting | News



A local resident was filled with sadness and frustration as she spoke to the Fontana City Council about her situation during the Sept. 13 meeting.

Julia Flores said she and her children are homeless and have been trying to get assistance from various agencies but have not been able to find permanent housing, even though she is employed as a barista.

“We are surrounded by so many homeless people. There’s people that are sick, that are doing drugs,” she said.

She said she tries to remain optimistic and makes sure that her children attend school.

“I keep a smile on my face considering all the things that I am going through,” Flores said. “I want there to be a solution. I want there to be a way for me to get that help. It’s been almost two years — it will be two years in October.”

Flores was one of several speakers who discussed the homelessness problem during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Mayor Acquanetta Warren directed a city staff member to talk to Flores about her situation, and the mayor also thanked the residents who spoke on the subject.

“You’re absolutely right, we do need housing, and that’s what this city is trying to promote, and trying to work toward getting,” Warren said.

The number of homeless persons in Fontana has increased from 116 persons in 2020 to 156 this year, according to the 2022 Point-In-Time Count which was conducted on Feb. 24 by San Bernardino County officials.

At that time, seven of the Fontana homeless individuals were residing in emergency housing, and the other 149 were “unsheltered” on the streets, the report said.

Mary Aguilar, a project specialist for the Fontana Housing Department, said that thousands of other Fontana residents have managed to stay in their homes so far but are at great risk of becoming homeless.

Some speakers at the meeting blamed the city for not tackling the homelessness situation adequately.

Rialto resident Ana Gonzalez, the executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, said she is very aware of the issue because she previously was homeless for a year while raising two children.

“We are too focused on building warehouses and catering to the developers instead of addressing the homeless crisis,” Gonzalez said.

Warren said the city has received about $3 million in grants that will be used for housing, but more resources are needed.

“We are here to work with those who own the land and those who want to build,” she said.

Deputy City Manager Phil Burum said Fontana has about 10,500 multi-family units, and 2,100 of those are subsidized by the city or otherwise designated as “affordable.”

“There’s no other city that I can think of that has 20 percent of their multi-family stock subsidized for affordable housing,” he said.

Aguilar said the city’s mortgage and rental assistance program has assisted more than 200 families during the COVID-19 crisis to keep them in their homes.

The city also is getting $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the federal government that will be used to construct a homeless shelter. Burum said that due to environmental concerns and negotiations with various landowners, construction has not started yet on the shelter, but the project is slated to get under way late next year.

For now, people in need can visit the city’s website to get information about the resources that are available.

The CityLink program, which is coordinated by Water of Life Community Church, has provided services for homeless persons for many years. Services that are provided on weekdays include hygiene kits, food bags, clothing, blankets, and a voucher for thrift store clothing. However, CityLink does not directly provide housing. For more information about CityLink, visit https://wateroflifecc.org/citylink-services/



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