Continuing its investment in fighting homelessness, Redwood City will be launching a Rapid Rehousing Program aimed at relocating those in the city’s temporary Safe RV Parking Program into permanent housing. 

“If everyone did something to help people who are at the end of their rope things would be a lot better,” Mayor Diane Howard said. 

As with the RV parking site, the housing nonprofit LifeMoves will operate the Rapid Rehousing Program, a $363,366 initiative. Dr. Brian Greenberg, vice president of Programs and Services for LifeMoves, said the funds will help provide a softer transition into stable housing by assisting struggling residents with moving costs, first and last month’s rent or temporary rent subsidies. 

He lauded the city’s investment, approved during a City Council meeting Monday, July 26, and shared hopes other cities would follow suit. 

“I really feel like the Redwood City Council and Redwood City staff understand the challenges and are being proactive in addressing it,” Greenberg said. “To step up and have a considerate and deliberate approach is really wonderful.” 

In addition to the Rapid Rehousing Program, the council approved an additional $131,181 contribution to the Safe RV Parking Program, a $1.7 million initiative to transition RV dwellers into permanent housing. The funds will go toward onboarding a third case manager to address the needs of the roughly 60 households participating in the program. 

Typically, case managers will work with up to 20 single adults or 12 to 15 families. Since the program’s launch in October, caseloads have far surpassed that threshold with two full-time case managers tasked with addressing the needs of 81 individuals including 18 children. 

In addition to transitioning program participants off the streets, Greenberg said case managers ensure each household has their basic needs met including food, water, power and internet and technical access for school-aged children and adults. 

Howard, who once served on the agency’s board when it was under the name Shelter Network, praised the agency’s growth and expressed confidence in LifeMoves’ ability to care for those in need. 

“I feel our clients are safe in their hands,” she said. “It’s something I’m glad we’re investing in.” 

The city has invested more than $3.5 million in programs to address homelessness since 2019, City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz said in an email. The funds are in addition to annual General Fund and Community Development Block Grants, affordable housing funds and COVID-19 Rent Relief, she noted.

“The Redwood City City Council is leading the way in supporting our residents facing housing insecurity,” Stevenson Diaz said.

In other business, the council voted in favor of closing a portion of Middlefield Road between Broadway and Winslow Street, known as Theatre Way, to vehicle traffic. The $260,000 initiative is aimed at encouraging safe pedestrian activity in the area already highly trafficked by foot. 

An active sliding bollard system will be constructed along both ends of the block to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering. Permitted vehicles, such as emergency departments, Recology and city maintenance vehicles, will be given key fobs and access codes to trigger the bollards to open. 

Only one vendor with reputable experience with street closures offers bollard systems that meet the cities specific needs. The system must be electrically driven, horizontally sliding and able to withstand a crash of up to 40 mph. An underground parking garage also limits how far the city can dig down, requiring the system to be surface mounted. 

Staff anticipate a five-month wait time until the bollards are shipped, followed by about a month of construction. 

“This is, to me, overdue. The time is now,” Vice Mayor Giselle Hale said. “I think it’s going to do a lot and I hope this is just the beginning.” 

The council also directed staff to engage with the city’s new Equity and Social Justice Subcommittee on drafting a letter of support for unionizing. The item was brought forward by Councilmember Alicia Aguirre in response to pleas for support by Dignity Health security guards interested in unionizing. 

While in support of the security guards who claim to face workplace violence, unequal wages, gender and racial inequities and COVID-19 exposure risks, the council opted to pursue a more general statement of support, noting they frequently receive similar requests. 

“Equity is a top priority for me and a guiding principle for our city,” Aguirre said. “And I believe that unions can help give workers a voice and assist workers faced with equity issues in the workplace.” 

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