Daily Briefing: Counting the homeless, a preview of tonight’s Council meeting, and more

It’s Thursday, 5/26.

☀️ Today’s weather: Sunny and 103 degrees.

? Setting the mood: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John with Kiki Dee

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? Situational awareness: The city recently hired a new department head (welcome to town, Yvonne Wise), but it has many more openings left to fill, and it would love to fill them with locals.

This is a 4.5-minute read. Off you go …

Leading off: Counting the county’s homeless

The results of Riverside County’s single day point-in-time count of homeless people are in.

Driving the news: Volunteers fanned out across the county, including here in Palm Springs, in February. Their task was to simply count how many people were on the streets during one period of one day. It marked the first in-person count in two years due to the pandemic.

  • Results were released this week. The numbers are used to help determine the county’s allotment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding.

By the numbers: This year’s count was 15% higher than the count in 2020. An estimated 3,316 people were found to be chronically homeless in the county on Feb. 23. In Palm Springs, 222 people were counted on the streets that day. That’s second only to Riverside, which had 514. In Corona there were 110, and Indio had 105.

What they’re saying: County Supervisor Karen Spiegel questioned if the numbers were accurate:

  • “The numbers seem very low. It’s hard to reach everyone at that one point in time. I mean, you see a homeless encampment, and when you go there, there’s nobody there.'”

Off the streets: Heidi Marshall, director of the county’s Housing, Homelessness Prevention & Workforce Solutions Department, told the Board of Supervisors that despite the apparent overall increase in the homeless population, we are gaining ground in getting people housed. 

  • Data shows the “sheltered” homeless population is increasing, while the number of  “unsheltered” homeless people is dropping. 

  • Still, the number of unsheltered people still outweighs the sheltered population (1,980 versus 1,336).

Federal money: Almost $200 million in federal COVID relief funds have been spent to reduce the risk of homelessness, but most of it has been spent on rental assistance, not on addressing the root causes of homelessness.

What’s next: Marshall wants the county to focus on “gaps in services” like helping the homeless population with substance abuse and mental disorders.

Dive deeper with our homeless coverage.

In brief: Students reflect on trip of a lifetime

Area students who went on a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) take time to pose for a picture during a busy week.

After students who attended Palm Springs Unified School District’s (PSUSD) first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Tour gave a moving presentation to the Board of Education this week, the Board seems poised to expand the program to include more students and offer different tours of other colleges and universities. 

Driving the news: Two dozen students traveled to Washington, D.C. to tour Howard, Hampton, Norfolk, and Morgan State as well as monuments, museums, and historic locations.

  • During Tuesday night’s presentation at district headquarters, students shared anecdotes, photos, and even poems to show the trip’s impact on them.

Board support: Multiple board members spoke up about how impressed they were with the students and their takeaways from the trip, and expressed their willingness to expand the program

  • “We will do whatever we have to do to get all the kids that apply to go on the next trip. Whether it’s raising money or if I have to go knock on doors myself.” — Timothy Wood, PSUSD Board member

More students, more opportunities: PSUSD Superintendent Dr. Mike Swize said he has asked Dr. Nicole Crawford, the coordinator of diversity and racial equity for the district, to put together a plan for a tour of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI).

  • A tour of HSI colleges and universities could be coming as soon as next school year.

Read the full story here.

? AM Roundup: Grab a cup & catch up

An insurance agent from Palm Springs has been arrested for allegedly stealing from a late art dealer. (KESQ)

?️ The Palm Springs Art Museum named a valley native to a new post. (CNS/NBC Palm Springs)

Take a look into the revival of the Southridge Estates. (Palm Springs Life)

A resident in Aspen wrote a letter to the editor praising the short term rental policy in Palm Springs. (The Aspen Times)

? On tap

? The Palm Springs City Council meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. You can tune in on YouTube, the city website, or Channel 17 on cable.

First up: The Council will discuss approving a city-sponsored informational program for young people.

What that means: Councilmembers and staff say there are lots of opportunities for young kids to learn about city government, but there are fewer options for young people over the age of 18. 

What to do: The city wants to host several catered informational lunches from different city departments this summer aimed at attracting more city residents between the ages of 18 and 24 into city positions.

  • City staff noted in a report that in recent years recruitment for open positions has mostly led to new employees from outside Palm Springs, and even from outside the valley.
  • They hope this plan will engage locals and eventually hire local young people for positions. Even if they don’t apply for a city job, Council hopes they’ll be more engaged in the inner workings of city government.

Next up: Also on the agenda is the Palm Springs Police Department’s use of military equipment.

Again? This issue came up last month, and Council still has to adopt the final official policy on the uses of each type of military equipment because of the new state law AB481.

  • Arsenal: As a part of the staff report on the topic, the public learned just how much military equipment the police force has, including:
    • An ICOR MK3 caliber robot used to open doors, disrupt packages and clear buildings.
    • Two Lenco BearCats (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter-Attack Trucks).
    • 15 Colt AR 15/M16 semi-automatic rifles acquired through the 1033 program which allows surplus military equipment to be transferred to local police at no cost.

Finally: The Council will consider the three “traffic-calming requests” in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates, Little Tuscany, and Melody Ranch neighborhoods.

  • Slow your roll: Some of the measures include speed humps, more signage, electronic speed feedback signs, and roundabouts. 

?️ Also today:

  • The Caravanserai Project holds its pitch competition and graduation ceremony this evening at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

  • VillageFest is happening downtown, starting at 6 p.m. Also, there’s free admission to the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Looking ahead:

  • The CalComMen’s first pool party and potluck of the year is Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Spend Memorial Day at the Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 starting at 1 p.m. on Monday May 30.

  • The annual Flower Drop and Air Fair takes place Monday May 30 at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Activities start at 10 a.m.

See our complete community calendar or list your event.

And finally …

Each week, Animal Samaritans and The Post partner to feature one or more of the many animal companions ready for a new home at the shelter. 

  • This week we invite you to meet Cammie (pictured) and Cricket — two of the many, many kittens available at the shelter (Shelter staff note that it’s currently kitten season). 

Details, details: You can visit the shelter at 72307 Ramon Rd. in Thousand Palms. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and then 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Kendall is eating fresh pineapple and pretending she’s in Hawaii.

Mark is wishing his big sister a speedy recovery from back surgery.

Miss a day?Read past newsletters here.

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