HISTORY OF THE MOUNTAIN HOMELESS COALITION
In January 2016, several churches, civic organizations and individuals organized together for the Point in Time Count (PITC) of the mountain homeless for San Bernardino County. The MHC facilitated the 2017 Point in Time Count. Twenty two volunteers worked in seven teams across the mountain and surveyed 31 homeless persons, distributed $170 in gift cards and approximately 21 bags of necessities to homeless residents. In 2018 and 2019 MHC counted 21 homeless in January. MHC counted 31 homeless individuals in Jan. 2020. It is accepted practice to multiply the PITC number by 3 or 4 to calculate the number of homeless in a given area.
At that time, a large number of the PITC volunteers wondered if there wasn’t something more than simply counting that could be done to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness. On October 18, 2016 members of Lake Arrowhead Presbyterian Church and St. Richard’s Episcopal Church formed the Mountain Homeless Coalition (MHC). MHC applied to become a nonprofit corporation to facilitate the grant application processes. Grants are sought for the rehabilitation and/or the creation of housing in the mountain communities. A Board of Directors, bylaws and application were developed by active members of MHC in July of 2017. MHC’s nonprofit corporation status was granted by the IRS in mid-October and dated July 24, 2017.
Upon contacting the County’s Homeless Partnership, MHC set many wheels in motion. MHC pointed out to San Bernardino County that even though the County had a vibrant homeless program that the mountain communities were being left out and were in desperate need of housing and services. The County was responsive to MHC and restructured its Homeless Provider Networks to create a separate Mountain Homeless Provider Network to attract services for the mountain communities. Thus, the Mountain Homeless Provider Network was formed.
MHC now has a seat at the County’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) to express the needs of the mountain and seek support from Continuum of Care vendors.
In the fall of 2019, the ICH created 5 Regional Steering Committees comprised of government agencies and non-profits. The Mountain Regional Steering Committee applied for and will receive $236,000 from the state’s Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention grant.
The MHC seeks funding from individuals, community groups and foundations. In 2019 MHC was awarded a CA Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) grant of $200,000 for two years. This funding will help support the homeless to find appropriate shelter/housing.
MHC participated in the state’s Roomkey Project funding and sheltering people in a motel in Twin Peaks and Big Bear to reduce their chances of contracting or spreading COVID – 19. MHC was awarded by the County $20,000 for support for non-profits during COVID – 19.
In 2020, MHC received $ 1.1million dollars from the CA Homekey program to purchase 6 cabins and purchase two manufactured homes in Big Bear. The property, Georgia Street Cabins, is fully occupied by those who were formerly homeless.
In October 2019, the County committed a half year of funding for a Housing Navigator. The Navigator focuses on locating and providing housing for the homeless of the mountain communities, or stabilizing housing for those at risk of homelessness.
Geographically MHC focuses its efforts from the Rim of the World (Crestline to Arrowbear) to Big Bear.