Support Whittier Friendly Neighbor Plan
Support Whittier Friendly Neighbor Plan
Why this petition matters
We are experiencing a homeless crisis in our city, and we demand action by the city council to address these issues immediately to make sure we treat our homeless neighbors with dignity and care by providing critical services, emergency shelter, and long-term housing solution while addressing public safety and public health.
Whittier is founded on Quaker Christian values to help our fellow man and treat all members of our community equally with respect. Whittier's high expectation of quality of life, safety, and cleanliness should be for all Whittier residents even if they are experiencing homelessness.
The current council and administration's hands-off approach is failing us. This petition provides a plan for the city to commit proper resource so we can adequately address homelessness in our city. If an earthquake or any other disaster that may leave over 200 residents homeless, we would expect the city to take appropriate action. This homeless crisis should be viewed no differently.
The Whittier Friendly Neighbor Plan is a pathway of short-term and long-term goals to address some of the critical issues our community is facing based on the principle that Whittier should take care of our own. We believe that our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness should be treated with dignity and compassion while our Whittier community comes together to address these problems.
We support the Whittier Friendly Neighbor Plan by taking action on the following:
1. Immediately declare a State of Emergency on Homelessness in our city and direct staff to utilize city resources so that residents who are experiencing homelessness have a place to take a shower, get clean clothes, get critical services, and receive shelter or housing.
2. Immediately identify and establish a public shower facility for those who need to bathe and clean themselves daily to maintain their human dignity. Currently, Whittier does not offer any shower or restrooms for our homeless neighbors so they may bathe. Every day that a homeless neighbor is unable to clean and wash; they put their health at risk and develop increased mental trauma that makes it more challenging to get them off the streets.
3. Emergency Shelter with 100 beds needs to be established within 45 days to get our homeless neighbors off the streets now. The city should use its resources to get cots and put in a public facility as a short-term solution as an extension of the Winter Shelter Program. Develop and meet long-term goals to create a permanent 100 emergency shelter beds within the city limits to house our residents. Currently, Whittier's adopted homeless plan only allows for "facilitating" the development of 100 shelter beds but does not budget or allocates proper resources to achieve the goal.
4. Continue to combat homelessness by creating Bridge Housing on city-owned land and publicly fund 50 beds with local nonprofit partners that will provide a long-term solution to keep our Whittier neighbors permanently housed. Bridge housing provides necessary social services and life skills training while residents recover from the traumas of being homeless.
5. Develop 500 Affordable Housing Units in our city that will help residents from becoming homeless. We can accomplish this long term goal by doing the following: (A.) Change zoning and planning requirements to allow more density for more accessory dwelling units (granny flats). (B.) Create community benefits agreements with real estate developers to build low-income and moderate-income housing in new rental housing. (C.) Develop a culture of supporting affordable housing in the City Council, Commissions, and Administration. (D.) Partner with businesses to create affordable housing units for Seniors and Veterans. (E.) Regulate Airbnb rentals with our city to prevent needed housing rentals taken off the market. (F.) Work closely with Federal, State, and County legislative leaders to identify financial resources and programs that will assist in the development of such housing stock.
6. Create a Whittier Works program to provide residents who are looking for work and get employment quickly within our city by coordinating job information using Internet technology and job placement services.
7. Support nonprofits who provide mental health and drug addiction services and coordinate to assist in providing critical services to our neighbors who are experiencing mental health and drug addiction. Maintain a zero tolerance to any individuals who commit crimes and develop a city policy that removes any individual who is found under the influence in public or has possession of drugs off the streets for a period of at least 24 hours.
The Whittier Friendly Neighbor Plan is a roadmap to address homelessness that will continue to occur with approximately 200 to 300 residents who are homeless of Whittier's estimated 87,000 residents that amount to a range of .25% to .35%.
With the continuing increase in rents and the probability of an economic downturn within the next couple of years, we could see an increase in homelessness in the future. We must prepare.
We will never solve the vicious cycle of homelessness, but together we can create a plan that will support our neighbors in their time of need to get them back into housing they can afford with a living wage job and make sure they get services needed to be successful.
Louis R. Reyes