SEASIDE, Calif. - More than 100 people packed the Oldemeyer Center in Seaside Wednesday night for a town hall on homelessness.
Seaside councilmembers Dave Pacheco and Jon Wizard hosted the “Homelessness on the Bay” town hall to get public feedback and ideas on solutions to address homelessness on the Monterey Peninsula.
There were several guest speakers including Katherine Thoeni, Executive Officer with the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers, Craig Malin, Seaside City Manager and Nick Chiulos, Assistant County Administrative Officer for Monterey County.
Councilman Pacheco told KION one of the reasons they wanted to hold the town hall was to also get feedback from residents on a potential homeless shelter on Noche Buena Street and Broadway Avenue in Seaside.
Monterey County is offering up the location and a building that’s been vacant for years next to social services.
However, many residents and some Seaside business owners were not happy about the plan and voiced their frustrations at the meeting.
“Why are we always trying to be the hero to the peninsula when we don't have to be!”
“I appreciate the two council members had this meeting, however you keep saying this is not a done deal, you keeping saying that.”
“This is our neighborhood. These are our homes and we should not be subjected to the horror stories that I can tell you that will happen with putting a homeless shelter on Noche Buena.”
Supporters stressed the importance of helping the homeless.
The Deputy Director of the Veterans Transition Center also weighed in.
“Homeless are people like any one of us. No six-year-old kid stood at the top of the playground and said daddy when I grow up I want to be a homeless addict. Folks homeless are people they’re in my community they’re in your community.”
He also said The VTC is going to put forward a proposal for a shelter in the basement of Martinez Hall in Marina. This will be part of a proposal for Homeless Emergency Aid Program Funding also known as HEAP, grant money approved by Governor Jerry Brown.
“Seaside needs to just realize we have a real opportunity to help these people, their own brothers and sisters, they could be conceivably us because a lot of us are living one paycheck away from homelessness conceivably."
“They say it takes a village and in this case it takes an expanded village, all contributing and all finding solutions and different ways to truly have an impact on the serious issue of homelessness,” said Councilman Pacheco.
Right now Monterey County leaders also deciding how to spend part of $12.5 million in HEAP funds.
There are still many questions over logistics, who would operate the homeless shelters, how they would operate, who they would serve and more. Councilman Pacheco said that is why it is important to hear from residents and other organizations.
The Seaside city council will take up the issue again at its meeting on February 21st.