Photo Courtesy City of Port Hueneme

Backpack Medicine Offers Good Help For The Homeless – Tri County Sentry

Photo courtesy of City of Port Hueneme

Port Hueneme – The City Council’s report on the homeless situation in the area on November 7 continues with Homeless Liaison Officer Henry Montelongo saying 12 residents of the homeless community have been contacted about the city’s backpack medicine program and 11 were receptive to receiving services.

He pointed to issues with the area’s hotspots and Goodwill’s location on Channel Islands Blvd. and Victoria Avenue, where measures have been taken to protect employees on site.

“What I’m doing is directing doctors, social workers and county staff to these places,” he said. “I first contacted the homeless and let them know that they had no problems; I’m just trying to help you guys. I have the county here.

He said once they were ready to speak with people offering backpack medicine, Montelongo would connect them with county employees and walk away.

“At least this way they feel a little more open and talk to county employees and don’t have to worry about them disclosing anything that they think will get them in trouble with the police,” said he declared. “I’m in the area as a safety option for county personnel because you never know.”

He said county employees believe their efforts benefit the homeless community.

“They issued multiple vaccines and started one person on hepatitis C treatment,” he said. “They were very happy about that. Even though no one wanted to take shelter, they were at least happy that individuals were able to start with treatments for some of the ailments they were suffering from.

Montelongo said his partnership with the Housing Authority is his biggest challenge as the city’s homeless liaison since learning a new position.

“Gabby Basua, Jessica Cerda and Anahi Carter have been instrumental in helping me and teaching me what I need to do to make this program successful,” he said. “They said if I wanted a job there, there was a place for me as a housing specialist.”

He said that with the help of Gabby Basua, they created three Section 8 coupons for the homeless.

“The section 8 coupon must remain in the city of Port Hueneme,” he said. “The problem and the challenge we face is that the city is pretty much built up, and we are limited to the units available to house these people.”

He also said that the payment standards depend on the size of the accommodation.

“If you have one person, you’re pretty much in a room or a studio,” he said. “It is limited in the amount that the Section 8 voucher will pay compared to three people; they will be able to get a house, and the payment that the bond will cover will increase a little more.

Montelongo said her job is to screen tenants as a homeless liaison and verify that they are actually homeless.

“You’d be surprised how many people claim they’re homeless when they’re not and try to override the whole process and get their name to the top of the list,” he said. declared.

After placement, he said the next step is follow up with social workers.

“What I’ve learned is that follow-up from social workers is key to making sure people who are placed in housing are successful,” he said. “We could start putting everyone in accommodation, but if there’s no one to follow them, make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do and help them through the process, they will fail through the selection process and then return to the streets. We want to make sure they pass and stay housed.

He said income is also a Section 8 challenge because the voucher does not cover everything.

“You’re still responsible for some of the rent, so there has to be some kind of income to pay for that,” he said. “There’s a formula I’m still learning, and the girls at the house are still trying to teach me how it works. Depending on how much you earn and how much payment standards allow you, how much you pay for your rent.

He noted that Section 8 vouchers have an expiry date and when they are issued they have 120 days to find accommodation and be placed, otherwise the voucher will expire.

“Another challenge is down payment and credit,” he said. “A case I’m working on right now, the minimum down payment for the unit is $4,400, and a lot of these people don’t have that money. In addition, property owners and managers ask for their credit scores. Many of these people, because of their circumstances, do not have the best credit. The Housing Authority helps me navigate through these processes.

Montelongo said he is currently helping someone referred to him, and the person has a “little mother” with an autistic son who is sleeping in his car and wants services.

“I gave the officer instructions on how to get background information, and I’m going to follow through,” he said. “We started working with her and started looking for permanent housing options. The obstacle we are encountering is that we have not found any units available for her.

He has partnered with the United Way through its landlord engagement program, which encourages landlords to participate, and they work with the person to find housing opportunities.

“United Way found me a place to live, and it’s all been a great job with the Housing Authority to find that place,” he said. “I went out last week and checked the accommodation with the tenant. United Way took the photographs and returned them to the Housing Authority. They approved the unit. We are awaiting the completion of the rental application process. From there, we will do an inspection and hope that the person will be transferred to the unit. »

He noted that the process takes 4-5 months.

During Council’s comments, Mayor Rich Rollins said the process requires a lot of patience.

“The city joined the county continuity of care program; I’ve attended several meetings via Zoom, and I’m wondering if you’re making yourself available to attend those meetings as well,” Councilwoman Laura Hernandez said.

“I attend these meetings, and there are some on November 9,” ​​Montelongo said.

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