• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

SLO County Creates Homelessness Accountability Commission

ByChad J. Johnson

Sep 27, 2022


Curtis, 53, carries his things. San Luis Obispo cleared out a homeless camp along the Union Pacific train tracks north of Pepper Street on August 4, 2022. The county has a new plan that aims to halve homelessness in five years .

David [email protected]

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has promised to reduce homelessness by 50% in five years.

But who will make sure the county follows through on its plan to get people off the streets and into housing?

A group of 11 citizen volunteers.

That’s the next step the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is taking in its efforts after voting Tuesday to create a Citizen Accountability Commission.

The commission will monitor whether the county is meeting the targets set out in the five-year plan – which contains approximate timelines for when certain targets must be met. For example, the county plans to build more transitional housing like tiny houses and pallet shelters during the first half of the plan.

This isn’t the first time the county has attempted to address the issue. More than a decade ago, the council embarked on a 10-year plan to end homelessness, which the county has failed to achieve.

Stakeholders hope this time will be different.

Greg Gillett, a San Luis Obispo attorney who partnered with former state senator Sam Blakeselee to complete an independent study of homelessness in SLO County, said that accountability is more effective if it comes from outside county government officials.

Portrait of Gregory Gillett .JPEG
Greg Gillett joined forces with former Senator Sam Blakeslee to form the SLO Citizens Commission on Homelessness. Courtesy of Greg Gillet

“I think getting input from well-meaning, well-informed citizens would be such a benefit for any initiative, but especially where there are so many people at stake,” Gillett said.

The 11 commission members were recommended by Blakeslee and Gillett.

The commission is required to meet at least three times a year and report annually to the board of directors and the homeless services oversight committee on the progress of the plan.

“It’s almost like a real-time audit,” Gillett told The Tribune.

Members serve two-year terms and future members will be appointed by the supervisory board – although the commission will appoint its chairman, vice-chairman and secretary.

One of the commission’s goals is to ensure that ordinary citizens, from business owners to homeless people, can provide feedback on the county’s progress in implementing the plan.

“It’s almost like a pure form of democracy,” Gillett said. “It’s more of a civic responsibility. It’s a demonstration to the supervisory board that we have skin in the game. As much as they are there for us, we are there for them.

Here is the list of committee members:

This story was originally published September 27, 2022 1:36 p.m.

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Stephanie Zappelli primarily covers county government for the SLO Tribune. She grew up in San Diego and is a fourth-year journalism major at Cal Poly. When not writing, Stephanie enjoys hiking, reading and exploring SLO.