PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A new suggestion for funding potential solutions for Palm Springs' ongoing homeless issue was raised during last night's City Council meeting and has left some people excited and others scratching their heads.
"What we don't have money for is the infrastructure capital, the buildings, which is what Measure J was created to do," Councilmember Geoff Kors told KESQ News Channel 3's and CBS Local 2's Katie Widner.
Kors said that over the past year, the city has funded more than $1 million to homeless services, making up for resources Riverside County does not have. He said the effort has shown progress despite a preliminary annual report that shows homelessness has gone up in the area.
"The Point In Time Count is three hours to count the homeless population everywhere in the country. So, the count really is based on how many volunteers you have, what the weather is and how many people happen to be on the streets that morning," Kors explained.
He said during the last count, they pushed for more volunteers and therefore the number of homeless people they were able to locate was higher. With the closure of Roy's Desert Resource Center coming on June 30, he is suggesting that funds from Measure J, which was a 1 percent tax increase approved in 20-11 and meant to revitalize downtown and improve infrastructure, could go to buildings related to emergency homeless services and affordable housing.
It is a suggestion met with mixed reaction.
"If implemented the right way, and if the tax allocation dollars were used in the right way, it's a win-win," said Palm Springs resident Paul Pareate.
"No, not use any funds. People just start using common sense," said 9-year resident Les Bailey. "I think if they got rid of alcohol and drugs, all of the homelessness would be taken care of."
If approved, the budget for Measure J funds would have to be reworked to make room. Kors said cuts could be made from the downtown Buzz Trolley and would also be open to suggestion.
David Vogel, chair of the Measure J Commission, said over the phone Wednesday, that the issue was "premature" to comment upon and that the commission had not yet discussed the idea. It will be on the agenda for a meeting next Thursday.
Stay with News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as we follow the latest developments in this story.