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Redlands newly appointed Homeless Solutions Coordinator hopes to increase city’s outreach efforts

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City of Redlands
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Redlands Homeless Solutions Coordinate David Rabindranath speaking with a homeless individual.

KVCR’s Jonathan Linden spoke with David Rabindranath, the City of Redlands newly appointed Homeless Solutions Coordinator.

Below is a transcript of the conversation between KVCR's Jonathan Linden and Redlands Homeless Solutions Coordinator David Rabindranath.

Jonathan Linden: In April, as part of its efforts to address homelessness, the city of Redlands appointed David Rabindranath as its first-ever Homeless Solutions Coordinator, and I'm joined by him now. To get started here David, can you tell me more about this position and what kind of projects you're working on right now?

David Rabindranath: So basic functions of the job, I'll just be overseeing all homeless programs that the city develops, like the Good Night Inn project, which we'll probably discuss. Also, outreach efforts and I’ll be collaborating with community partners, nonprofit, county, federal, and any other governmental or nonprofit agencies working with homeless. And just putting on events for the homeless and anything else to help the homeless and help them get off the street into housing, shelter, mental health treatment, substance abuse, or whatever the case is. So, it's a wide array of functions. Typically, a lot of agencies have a team, so since this is new to Redlands, I'm the first and am overseeing everything. So hopefully, in the future, we'll have a couple more people and then probably be contracting out with local nonprofits to help us with different things… hopefully, there will be some funding opportunities to bring more community partners to help.

Jonathan Linden: Just in March, Redlands received a $30 million California Homekey grant to renovate an existing motel to become homeless housing. Can you talk about that project and other projects that the city has addressing homelessness?

David Rabindranath: So, the Goodnight Inn project was $30 million, which is all going towards Project Roomkey to get it. It's going to be 99 units, but it's going to be 98 permanent supportive housing units. So, it's going to be long-term housing for 98 chronically homeless individuals. And the 99th unit, the last unit, will be for an onsite manager/property manager. Now, the city had to partner with a developer and a nonprofit… that was part of the grant. So, the city won't own the building, Shangri-la Industries is the developer, and they will own the building, and we're waiting on contracts to close with the state, but once that closes, hopefully, by the middle or end of this month, or by July... once it closes, Shangri-la Industries is going to go in there and start remodeling the units, turning them on to studios. So, all the units will be for single occupancy or couples. And as of right now, we believe they will accept small pets, but we are going to try and prioritize Redlands homeless. So that is what we are working on now. And then there will be case management, and Step-Up on Second is a nonprofit, and they actually have a similar project in San Bernardino called the All-Star Inn, which is very similar; I don't think it's as many units, but it's very similar, which is permanent supportive housing. And when I say permanent supportive housing, it's long-term, so it's not a shelter. There still won't be any shelter, and there won't be any transitional housing. So, this is more of a long-term solution, and again, we're going to Step-Up on Second... and they're gonna provide the case management, but we're working with them to prioritize the Redlands homeless project. Because the funds came from the state, we have to work with the county Coordinated Entry System (CES), which we'll have to take some referrals or work with the CES, but again, we're really implementing and putting Redlands homeless first, since we have so many of them... you know, fill the rest of the units as needed, but a majority should be Redlands homeless.

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City of Redlands
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Redlands Homeless Solutions Coordinate David Rabindranath speaking with a homeless individual.

Jonathan Linden: And could you give me an estimate of how many homeless individuals are in Redlands, and additionally, have you been able to go out and interact with some of these individuals?

David Rabindranath: The homeless point in time count numbers just came out last week for 2022, and there was 184 homeless in Redlands. So, Redlands has stayed the same because, in 2021, there was no count because of COVID-19, but in 2020, the number was 186 homeless. So now, in 2022, we're at 184. So, there was like a tiny decrease but about the same, but there was more homeless in shelters and transitional housing in 2022 than compared to 2020. There are also two officers with Redlands Police Department that have been doing outreach prior (to me, that have) dealing with the homeless. And so, I started going out and connecting the homeless with resources and helping the police out as much as I can. Again, we're looking at increasing our outreach efforts. The County of San Bernardino has a mental health team called INROADS, which will start coming out one day every other week to help out and provide mental health treatment to individuals on the street. And then the San Bernardino County Sheriff's homeless outreach team has been awesome, as well as the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health and Redlands Police Department. But the Sheriff's been coming out doing outreach with us also and helping us connect the homeless with services and housing.

Jonathan Linden: And David, could you talk about how your prior experience has prepared you for this position?

David Rabindranath: I came from Loma Linda VA homeless programs, HUD VASH, helping house homeless in their section eight HUD VASH program. And I was an employment specialist for six years; three for housing and three for employment under homeless programs. When I came in, I really brought in the VA homeless outreach team and partners like U.S. Vets and Lighthouse. And we're really trying to target the veterans, because that's where most of the resources are in programs. So, we've been able to connect about six or seven vets we found with the VA, U.S. Vets, and Lighthouse. And last week, we were able to get one lady who's been by the Redlands mall for two years on the street, but she's been on the streets for, I think, over five years. She was a Vietnam-era vet; we were able to get her off and into a hotel with the help of the VA and Lighthouse, and they're working on housing her permanently.

Jonathan Linden: And David, was there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners?

David Rabindranath: No, I just appreciate the opportunity. And I know this Goodnight Inn project is going to be a great effort, really put a dent in the Redlands homeless, as well as other projects that we're coming up with and increasing our outreach efforts. And again, we appreciate the public, and hopefully, we can really put in a dent in homelessness sooner than later.

Jonathan Linden: Well, Redlands Homeless Solutions Coordinator David Rabindranath, thank you so much for taking some time to speak with me.

David Rabindranath: No problem. Thank you so much, Jonathan for giving me the opportunity.