With the shutdown of North Peninsula Neighborhood Services Center at the end of last year due to a variety of concerns, South San Francisco officials are acting to fill gaps in social services with some help from the county.
The county is currently looking to find a nonprofit to fill core social services in the city, while the San Mateo County Human Services Agency is acting as an interim administrator. Hopefully, a contract for a little more than $100,000 will be completed within a month, said Wendy Goldberg, the county’s homeless program manager. The city did recently give a $25,000 block grant to the Salvation Army for safety net services funds to be used on a rental assistance project. This was the grant taken away from the North Peninsula Neighborhood Services Center because of claims of lack of auditing documentation, clear planning by the organization and other financial concerns.
“We know them (the Salvation Army) to be good agency,” said Mayor Karyl Matsumoto. “They met our criteria and it’s all going directly to services.”
The nonprofit plans on helping with past due rent and the associated late fees. The Salvation Army indicated on its application that it receives rental assistance requests from low-income families multiple times per week.
“It’s a good addition to what we do,” said Lt. Sean O’Brien, administrator at the South San Francisco Salvation Army. “We have a large client base.”
The group also has a financial mentoring program that walks people through budgeting, reducing debt, saving, credit, banking and setting financial goals.
The city is also taking part in the newly formed Homeless Steering Committee to provide oversight and support for the county’s case management group, called the “HOT Team” — or Homeless Outreach Team. The HOT Team was modeled off of programs in Redwood City and San Mateo, that would work with the police department to find long-term solutions for homeless by creating a list of the top 20 chronic offenders to help rehabilitate. Getting rid of the St. Vincent de Paul’s Safe Harbor Shelter waiting list and working on switching over to referrals to the county’s core agencies is another goal. The committee — which had its first meeting last week — includes Matsumoto, who was recently appointed to the committee.
“It’s a voice that needs to be filled,” she said.
For now, the committee is focused are on combating homelessness in downtown South San Francisco around Grand Avenue, said Goldberg.
“We can shift that,” she said. “Hopefully we can get the 15 people on our list into housing, shelters or other social benefit.”
Other community leaders part of the committee include Goldberg; Supervisor Dave Pine; Public Safety Chief Mike Massoni; Kacy Carr, deputy director of county behavioral health; Brian Greenberg, director of InnVision/Shelter Network’s outreach team; Norma Fragoso, the city’s redevelopment manager, and other community leaders.
“We’ve already had some success in combating chronic homelessness (through the HOT Team),” Pine said. “The HOT Team is the beginning of a number of initiatives (aimed at combating homelessness).”
The North Peninsula Neighborhood Services Center, located at 600 Linden Ave. off of Grand Avenue, previously provided social services such as a food bank, discounted minor home repair services and community education. The county decided to terminate its contract with the center in early November, effective Nov. 30, 2013. Concerns were raised the residents may not be served well in the long term, said Effie Verducci, communications manager for the Human Services Agency. Services that were no longer funded included self-sufficiency to the low income, financial education, landlord tenant mediation, a CalFresh food stamps program and health coverage programming. The aggregate value of three contracts with the county is approximately $173,000, county officials said.
“There were concerns about fiscal sustainability and operational issues,” Pine previously said.
Those who worked at the center were upset by the closure, stating they weren’t given a chance and decisions about it were made behind closed doors.
At the council’s last meeting, Matsumoto said she would like to see small five-minute presentation on where residents should go now or in the interim for services at the next council meeting.
Core services are currently at the Human Services Agency’s South San Francisco office at 1487 Huntington Ave. and is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (415) 877-5665 for more information.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105
Note to readers: This story has been changed. The North Peninsula Neighborhood Services Center is still open.