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. 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.
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 and on July 24, 2017 MHC officially became a 501c3.
MHC contacted our county’s Homeless Partnership and pointed out that even though the County had a vibrant homeless program, 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.
MHC now has a seat at the County’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) to advocate for the needs of the mountain and seek support from our counties’ Continuum of Care.
The Mountain Homeless Coalition seeks funding from individuals, community groups and foundations, as well as applying for county and state and federal funding.
In 2020, MHC received $1.1million dollars from the state’s Project Homekey program to purchase six cabins and two manufactured homes in Big Bear. The property, Georgia Street Cabins, is officially devoted to providing permanent housing to the formerly homeless or at-risk in the Big Bear area. Additional properties will hopefully be added in Big Bear as well as in the Rim of the World School District area in the near future.
Mountain Homeless Coalition now has two full-time housing navigators – one for Big Bear and one for the Rim of the World area – working diligently, with all our mountain and county partners, to provide permanent housing and stable, thriving lives to all our mountain neighbors.