Menifee City Council allocates more CDBG money for homeless, food programs

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The Menifee City Council, seeing the city’s homeless population in need of more help, resolved to make a “substantial amendment” to its 2019-2020 annual action plan and provide additional funding for public food services and homeless outreach services provided by the nonprofit Social Work Action Group.

SWAG has a professional services agreement with the Menifee Community Services Department to address homeless issues impacting the community. A greater need to help the homeless in the city was identified by the new Menifee Police Department after the department took over the city’s law enforcement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in July.

Since the city received $307,232 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal Housing and Urban Development for overcoming some of issues facing the city’s low-to-medium income residents due to the coronavirus pandemic, a 2019-2020 action plan was needed to be referred to HUD. The plan was amended to include more help for the homeless population and older adults in the city.

At their Wednesday, Sept. 16, meeting, the council moved to use the $307,232 in CDBG funds to cover the food service needs and help the homeless along with money to provide a computer lab program for their use. The council designated $162,754 to the public service food activities, $50,000 for the public services computer lab program, $33,032 for the SWAG group and $61,446 needed by city staff to administer the program. A public hearing was conducted on the amendment with no objections were noted.

The council also held a public hearing on a related issue that ended with the approval of the 2019-2020 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report with the amendment for the city’s CDBG program that will be submitted to HUD.

Councilmember Lesa Sobek commended the staff for amending the CDBG to provide the homeless more help through the cooperative SWAG group and other members thanking the new police department for bringing the idea to the council.

The CDBG is not connected to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding being provided to the city, according to staff.

The council also decided to maintain its Model Home Complex Signage Standards and the Building Industry Kiosk Program but add a new homes website for the Menifee. The discussion came up after a major homebuilder asked them to put more signs up throughout the community to advertise their new home offers, because what they were allowed was not helping the public’s inquiries and home sales.

While determining the city would not change the standards, the council was favorable to placing a new link on its website providing potential new homeowners interested in moving to the city to quickly find the new and growing housing developments available with the touch of finger. The website would provide many details for each of the new homes for sale and their locations.

Staff was asked to develop the new website with the help of the Building Industry Association and local developers.

“It saves them (the potential home buyers) gas driving around town looking for the homes they might be most interested in,” one councilmember said.

The city manager and staff were asked by the council if they were ready to implement the new “Red Tier” coronavirus when it changes, now possible within the week. City manager Armando Villa said the staff already had those contingency plans in place, but they were going to move cautiously in opening up the city hall to the public on a limited basis.

As of last week, Riverside County and its cities remained in the state mandated purple tier of the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” the state four-color coded tier system to determine what businesses and other public facilities can move to limited reopenings, depending upon the new coronavirus cases, their hospitalization and death rates. The counties in the purple tier region are the most serious for the spread of the deadly virus. Moving to the red tier allows the county coronavirus spread risk to be considered “substantial” rather than “widespread” and will permit churches, gyms, nail salons, restaurants and other businesses which were previously called “unessential,” to reopen inside their establishments taking due precautions and continuing to follow the 6-foot space, mask wearing and smaller crowd numbers.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors at their first October meeting may consider a full-opening of all businesses in the county with the basic coronavirus restrictions still in place. If the action is taken, it may be in direct conflict with the governor’s tier level opening plan.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.