A Town Hall meeting was packed and standing room only in the Fallbrook Library Thursday night, June 8.
Fallbrook Chamber CEO Lila Hargrove was the moderator and speakers included County Supervisor Jim Desmond, Fallbrook Fire Chief Keith McReynolds and Fire Marshal Dominic Fieri, SDSO Fallbrook Sheriff Lt. Claudia Delgado; Crime Prevention Specialist Heather Mitchell, and a member of the HART team.
Fallbrook Planning Group Chair Eileen Delaney participated, as well as Matt Brown, the Acting Chief, Agency Operations, Office of Homeless Solutions from the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities; Claudia Alcazar from County Code Compliance; Sheila Ligayon, Building/Enforcement Manager; Lauren Moreno, from Dept. of Public Works; Jame Enriquez, Region Manager from Dept. of Parks and Recreation. And finally, local Brad Fox who runs a transition home in Fallbrook.
"This is the first meeting," said Hargrove. She expressed that the meeting was possibly the first and that we weren't "going to solve the homeless issue tonight." She said the town hall was to share information with the public on the things that can be done and the programs available right now.
Lt. Delgado and Chief McReynolds spoke about what they can do and their limitations as far as removing or serving homeless people. Lt. Delgado encouraged everyone to "make the call" when you see someone camping on your property, or in downtown Fallbrook.
Desmond talked about the programs and places that are available now. He also spoke of a hotel that the county is proposing to purchase at $400k per room to house the homeless and how they aren't expected to keep sobriety like some of the other private programs in the county.
Desmond mentioned that the "Point in Time" homeless count showed that Fallbrook in the last count only had about 25 homeless as compared to over 50 in prior years.
There was also discussion from the crowd about public restrooms. Desmond said, "If that's what you want, I'll find the funding," but he warned, "If you build them, they will come."
Brown talked about programs and funding for equity housing and how they also have some programs for people who have lost their jobs, that will pay rent temporarily to make sure they don't become homeless, as well as young people coming out of the foster system who qualify for up to 24 months of rent, paid directly to the landlord, while they go to school.
Brad Fox, who is with Fallbrook Homeless Advocacy Group, shared what they are doing. Fox works with a men's homeless transition house in town that houses about seven men.
Claudia Alcazar from County Code Compliance informed people what could be done for private property owners. Tools they use vary from citing property owners to cleaning up trash and tents on their property. She said it is the responsibility of the property owner to first keep their property in a condition that doesn't aid the homeless in having areas in bushes and places to live. She also said that the county in more extreme cases will go clean up the area, but the property owner is charged.
Enriquez spoke about what they are doing to help keep homeless people from living in the parks, which included lighting and keeping the brush trimmed.
There were many questions from the audience and it was apparent that a second meeting was needed.