An additional $44.8 million will be available to support rapid rehousing for Medi-Cal families and youth and interim housing for aging and disabled populations thanks to action taken by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The board unanimously agreed to accept nearly $43.3 million in state funding from the Inland Empire Health Plan over the next four years and nearly $1.6 million in state funding from Molina Healthcare of California over the next year.

The source of the funding is the state’s Housing and Homelessness Incentive Program (HHIP), which awards funding to managed care plans throughout the state. In San Bernardino County, IEHP has pledged up to $31,750,000 to the county and up to $11,500,000 to the San Bernardino City and County Continuum of Care, which is a regional planning body that coordinates housing and service funding. Molina has pledged $1,580,000 to the county.

HHIP is a $1.288 billion statewide voluntary incentive program that enables health plans to earn one-time incentive funds for improving health outcomes and access to whole-person care services by addressing homelessness and housing insecurity as social drivers of health and health disparities.

The funds are intended to reduce and prevent homelessness and ensure managed care plans develop the necessary capacity and partnerships in collaboration with their county counterparts to connect their members to needed housing services.

The state determined the maximum amount of incentive payments that each managed care plan was eligible to earn using a range of factors, including member enrollment, revenue, and each county’s point-in-time counts of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Specific projects and programs in which HHIP funds will be invested and exact dollar amounts for each are being evaluated by the county and the continuum of care.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved agreements that will provide $10 million to the City of Fontana and Fontana-based Water of Life Community Church to shelter families and individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.

The county will provide $5 million to the city to assist with the acquisition of a motel located on Valley Boulevard to be used as interim housing. The county will also provide $5 million to Water of Life to assist with producing a mixed-use development on Arrow Avenue to expand emergency shelter capacity.

“Seniors, veterans, and at-risk youth are facing the harsh reality of homelessness, and we have a responsibility to act swiftly,” said Supervisor Jesse Armendarez, whose Second District includes Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga. “These programs will ensure that beds are made available within just months allowing us to begin the crucial work of transitioning individuals off the streets and into housing programs.”

The support comes from the county’s Housing Development Grant Fund, which was established as part of the Homeless Initiatives Spending Plan approved by the board in March. The fund makes $40 million available through a competitive application process to support city and other locally sponsored projects that expand sheltering and housing capacity countywide. The fund is also designed to foster collaboration and shared goals with local cities to further regional efforts to address and reduce homelessness.

The board’s Homelessness Ad Hoc Committee, consisting of Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman and Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., worked with county staff to investigate the root causes of homelessness specific to San Bernardino County and prepared housing guidelines to assist the board with the evaluation of homeless shelter projects and determine County contributions. Both projects help fulfill the vision of the board as defined by the committee.

For the Valley Boulevard motel project, Fontana dedicated $6.3 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for the acquisition of the motel and has received a $4 million federal earmark. The city requested assistance from the county to bridge the remaining $5 million funding gap for the acquisition. Fontana has committed to providing several sources of funding to assure the viability and quality of operations at this shelter facility.

The city will also make shelter beds available to partnering cities through a collaborative funding partnership that allows participating cities to support a specific number of beds. Fontana will procure both a facility operator and a shelter operator who can ensure effective property management and the provision of onsite supportive services. Direct services offered to residents will be housing-focused with a strong emphasis on linking clients to permanent housing.

Construction and renovation are expected to be completed by the end of May 2024, and operations are anticipated to begin in June 2024. If approved, the project is expected to create up to 120 new shelter beds within the next six months.

Regarding the other Fontana project funded by the board on Tuesday, Water of Life requested $5 million for its CityLink Campus project – a mixed-use development that includes 20 travel trailers serving as temporary emergency shelter pending completion of a permanent facility slated to include 30 units of emergency and transitional shelter.

Water of Life is an experienced regional homeless service provider. CityLink will build on the church’s existing homeless care system, which is already well-funded and operating within Fontana. The project aligns with the service-enriched housing model which is a best practice model under the Board of Supervisors’ Housing Guidelines.

As a service-enriched project, CityLink will include a supportive service building, which includes a food warehouse, community showers for the homeless and onsite social services for the emergency shelter residents. The food distribution program will serve both onsite residents and the community at large, increasing the reach and impact of this project.

CityLink is slated to deliver 20 units of emergency and transitional housing via travel trailers on or before January 1, 2025, to accelerate the delivery of sheltering units. These units will be replaced by 30 units of emergency and transitional shelter upon the completion of the permanent housing structure. CityLink will focus on families, couples and seniors that do not often fare well in large non-congregate shelters. 

CityLink is located at the southwest corner of Citrus Avenue and Arrow Boulevard in Fontana and is comprised of three distinct campus areas that will provide ancillary services and emergency and transitional housing. One area will provide case management, counseling, job training, financial literacy, food distribution and other services. The second component is planned to include the 20 trailers to be used for temporary or emergency shelter to be phased out upon completion of the third component of CityLink – 30 units of housing to be used for temporary and emergency shelter.

Programs at the county’s Big Bear Lake Branch Library are receiving a $28,020 boost from the Friends of the Big Bear Valley Library.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously accepted the gift, which will allow the library to purchase books, eBooks, audiobooks and other supplies for adult and youth library programs. The donation will also fund the purchase of craft and art materials and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program supplies, and circulation incentives to promote reading, and support the Summer Reading Program by providing additional incentives and performers. 

These materials will result in an enhancement of the customer experience at the Big Bear Lake Branch Library.

The Friends of the Big Bear Valley Library Group is a non-profit organization that works to raise money from memberships and book sales to help support library programs at the Big Bear Lake Branch Library, including the purchase of newspaper and magazine subscriptions, DVDs, incentives for children to reach reading objectives and more.

Additional County Update News – February 8, 2024