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State and city leaders discuss spending more than $4 million to fix Salinas’s homelessness

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- State leaders visited Salinas today to discuss how the city is planning to use over four million dollars to address the homeless encampments across the city.

During the roundtable discussion, state leaders learned of the 588 calls to the fire department and 450 calls to the police received each month related to homeless fires and crimes. City Manager of Salinas Steven Carrigan said these numbers have been consistent over the last six months.

Mayor Kimbley Craig was joined by Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez and Senator Anna Caballero. They all spoke about the continued efforts to clean up the encampment of Salinas and finding permanent housing options.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that many households across the state were struggling to pay their rent," said Castro Ramírez. " We deployed the emergency Rental Assistance Program to help renters pay their rent and stay housed. Cities need to continue to build more housing. The state is continuing to spend historic levels of housing and homelessness dollars to support this effort,"

The grant will help with clean-up efforts at camps along Natividad Creek Park to Main Street.

There was also talk about transitioning the homeless into housing -- with the four million dollar grant set to be used to connect the city's homeless to housing services.

Homeless advocates say the majority of the city's homeless are family members and people who are undocumented.

"I know the importance of looking at somebody in the eyes and just actually listening empathetically, wanting to understand what brought the individual to the circumstance and those ears for active listening to hear what is it they want help with right now and who can support them," said Kayshla Lopez, a coordinator for the Salinas Outreach program, who helps by going to encampments to offer housing services said.

According to advocates, undocumented individuals are able to work here but can't afford to live.

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Ricardo Tovar

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