5Cities Homeless Coalition

Despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic, this is not just an election year, but also a very important year for everyone to participate and be counted as part of the 2020 U.S. Census. Due to the pandemic, both of these civic duties have become more complicated. Join Kris Kington Barker as she speaks in the first half hour with Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder, and Michael Latner, Ph.D., Cal Poly political science professor and Kendall Voting Rights Fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists, as they discuss the integrity of the 2020 election and plans to make voting safe and accessible to everyone. In the second half hour, Kris speaks with representatives from local organizations, who amid COVID-19, are working to prevent an undercount in the 2020 Census within 'hard-to-reach' communities. Guests include Devon McQuade, development and communications coordinator with the 5Cities Homeless Coalition; Brandy Graham, veteran support programs manager with CAPSLO; and Micki Wright, a senior volunteer services representative.

As California’s homeless population has grown, it has become an increasing concern in communities. Last year’s point-in-time count of California’s homeless populations exposed that about 130,000 Californians were homeless, about a quarter of the nation’s total. Contributing to the problem is the state’s chronic shortage of affordable housing. Working to address this issue, California created the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP)-- a $500 million block grant initiative to provide direct, immediate aid to local governments to address California’s homelessness crisis.

Tyler Pratt/KCBX News

San Luis Obispo County officials, service providers, non-profits and residents gathered Wednesday to discuss what to do with millions of dollars in state funds, aimed at supporting the county’s homeless population. But the meeting became a passionate debate between recognizing a need for more homeless services, and concern over where to put them, particularly a shelter proposed in South County.