Scarce services for city’s homeless bring call for ‘wraparound’ facility

Scarce services for city’s homeless bring call for ‘wraparound’ facility

Individuals experiencing homelessness are a familiar site near the intersection of Indian Canyon Drive and Ramon Road, where encampments are growing on sidewalks, vacant lots, and inside bus stops.

With Palm Springs set to end its relationship with the only remaining homeless services provider here in the coming weeks, many residents are left wondering: How did it come to this, and where do we go from here to address a crisis playing out live on city streets?

For their part, city officials last week instructed staff to work with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to quickly open a cooling center and showers at the former Boxing Club on South El Cielo Road. Those instructions came after councilmembers rejected the extension of a permit for Well in the Desert to continue operating at its facility in the Baristo Park neighborhood. Elected officials and neighbors said they had grown increasingly frustrated with The Well’s president, Arlene Rosenthal, whose combative approach and lack of adequate documentation eroded trust.

Martha’s Village President and CEO Linda Barrack said her organization will work to make sure the Boxing Club services open as soon as possible. She plans to meet with her board of directors today to discuss how to move forward. Whether Well in the Desert is part of those plans remains to be seen. Rosenthal did not respond to inquiries from The Post following the Council’s vote last week asking about her future plans in the community.

“We can make it happen,” Barrack assured councilmembers. “We just have to come together, and unfortunately we are in a time crunch. Anything is possible. We just need to have some time to do it right.”

The Boxing Club facility, once opened, will be far from the final solution to help the city  provide aid for its share of an estimated 1,000 people in the Coachella Valley experiencing homelessness every day. The long-term solution, according to experts who routinely address the City Council, are facilities that provide what are known as “wraparound services” — a team-based, collaborative case management approach that includes not just “day care,” but addiction counseling, shelter, and workforce training.

Facilities utilizing that approach are available elsewhere in the Valley — most notably at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission and Martha’s Village — but they are located in Indio, 30 miles away. Many of the services offered there were available within the city limits at one time. But the closure of Roy’s Desert Resource Center east of Interstate 10 in 2017 left Well in the Desert as the sole provider for homeless individuals here.

“The day care model is not working,” said David Murphy, a representative of the Community Partnership on Homelessness, who frequently addresses the Council. “It makes things worse by encouraging more time on the street.

“I would strongly suggest a campus approach with comprehensive services with shelter, housing, 12-step programs, case management, and access to mental health treatment. A day care facility should only be part of this, not the only part. It’s time for the city to create its own long-term strategic plan with a city position to manage this.”

City officials, frequently accused of spending more time addressing how to make the city more appealing to visitors than solving issues that plague full-time residents, are open to what Murphy suggests. Recently, they instructed staff to explore a partnership with Riverside County to build end-to-end services at a facility on city-owned property.

That option and more are often discussed during subcommittee meetings. The next is this week, when the city’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness Standing Subcommittee meets at 5:30 PM on Wednesday. Information about viewing that meeting can be found here.

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BRIEFLY

PALM SPRINGS BOOK EVENTS: A collection of short stories set in Palm Springs and the surrounding area will be the topic of a pair of online panels moderated by Corey Roskin in July. The collection, titled Palm Springs Noir, is slated for release July 6. “These are not stories you’ll read in the glossy coffee-table books that feature Palm Springs’ good life,” states the book’s introduction from Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. “There is indeed a lush life to be found here, but for the characters in these stories, it’s often just out of reach.” Roskin, a Palm Springs resident who has moderated similar events related to books and literature in Los Angeles, will host events on July 11 and 15, featuring DeMarco-Barrett and additional contributing writers. Tickets to the virtual events can be found here. The book may be ordered here.

FINAL LISTENING SESSION: The community is invited to participate in the final of four general plan update listening sessions this evening, starting at 5:30 PM, at James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Rd. To register for this session, you can visit psgeneralplan.com. The city is seeking input related to the future of Palm Springs, including challenges that surround environmental justice, as well as access to safe housing, healthy food, public facilities, and community services.


THIS WEEK’S EVENTS

TODAY

MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers multiple events today for registered members, starting at 8 AM. Included in the activities are several fitness classes, including “Fit After 50,” both online and in person. For details about today’s events, turn here.

READING, CRAFTS PROGRAMS: Multiple reading and crafts programs are underway in the city, and most have a presence on YouTube today starting at 10 AM:

  • Information about “Read-To-Me Story Time and Craft” for preschool and kindergarten students can be found here.
  • Information about the adult summer reading program and craft projects (this week’s project is “Crayon Hair Dryer Art”) can be found here.
  • Information about a children’s summer reading program and craft projects (this week’s project is “Patriotic Slime Putty”) can be found here.
  • Information about a teen summer reading program and crafts projects (this week’s project is “Among Us Felt Craft”) can be found here.

ONE-PS: The monthly membership meeting of Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) starts at 5:30 PM on Zoom. No information about participating in the meeting was available by the time this edition of The Post was sent. Information about the organization, however, can be found here.

PARKS & REC: The city’s Parks & Recreation Commission meets at 5:30 PM this evening. Information about joining that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.

TUESDAY

MIZELL EVENTS: Tai Chi, Zumba, and more events are offered today at the Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, beginning at 9 AM. For a complete list of today’s offerings for registered members, turn here.

SOLAR AND GREEN: The city’s Standing Subcommittee on Solar and Green Building meets today at 1:30 PM. More information about that meeting, including how to participate, can be found here.

GENERAL PLAN: The Steering Committee behind the city’s General Plan, which, among other things, outlines which services and housing are needed in the future, and where those services and housing should be located, meets at 5:30 PM. Information on  how to view the meeting can be found here.

POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays this evening at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. A complete schedule is available here.

WEDNESDAY

MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, holds multiple events today starting at 8 AM, including Zumba, Dick Brodie’s Jam Session, and a knitting circle. A complete schedule of today’s events, including how to register for both in-person and online attendance, can be found here.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: The city’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness Standing Subcommittee meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on viewing that meeting, as well as an agenda and participation information, can be found here.

POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays this evening at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. A complete schedule is available here.

THURSDAY

MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, holds multiple events, starting at 10 AM. Included in today’s offerings is Zumba, an in-person Alzheimer’s support group, and a memoir writing class. A complete schedule can be found here.

DESERT WATER: The Executive Committee of the Desert Water Agency meets at 8 AM. More information on that meeting can be found here.

CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council holds a special meeting at 8:30 AM to interview and appoint members of multiple boards and commissions. Information about viewing that meeting, or offering public comment, can be found here.

LIBRARY OPENING: The Welwood Murray Memorial Library officially reopens after being closed due to the pandemic at 10 AM. Located at 100 S. Palm Canyon Dr., in the heart of downtown, the library will be open every day, with the exception of some holidays, from 10 AM until 6 PM, with a late night on Thursdays until 8 PM.

FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at two locations. A mobile market will be set up at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, from 4 PM to 6 PM. Food is also available at the community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Road, between 5 PM and 7 PM. That location is open every Thursday. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community is available here.

SMALL HOTEL BOARD: The city’s Small Hotel Tourism Business Improvement District Advisory Board holds a special meeting, starting at 4 PM. Members of the board include representatives of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild (DGTG) and Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS). Information about attending the meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.

FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.

VILLAGEFEST RETURNS: The city’s weekly pedestrian street fair takes place at 7 PM between Indian Canyon Drive and Belardo Road. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.

FRIDAY

MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, ends its week with multiple fitness classes, as well as Wii bowling. More information about the center and all of its classes can be found here.

POWER BASEBALL: The Palm Springs Power plays this evening at Palm Springs Stadium, 1901 E. Baristo Rd. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. A complete schedule is available here.


COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Palm Springs Library calendar of events

Palm Springs Unified School District calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

Desert Water Agency calendar

ONE-PS calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule

Palm Springs Disposal pickup schedule

Palm Springs Power baseball team schedule

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