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Riverside County receives $29.5M to tackle homelessness, Coachella to add housing

Riverside County is taking steps to tackle homelessness and to help those struggling with mental illness.

The county received $29.5 million for the construction of nearly 150 apartments reserved for
mentally ill individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of it across Coachella, Riverside, and Wildomar.

In Coachella, a more than 50,000 square foot space off Avenue 53 will become the new home for Villa Verde. It will be an affordable housing complex with around 150 units.

The project has been around for years, originally devoted to affordable housing for low-income families. “Some of these units are targeted towards families, because some people that may be struggling with the family as a whole is at risk of homelessness,” said Mike Walsh, Deputy Director of Riverside County Housing and Workforce Solutions.

But with the new state grant, housing will also be expanded to help those experiencing homelessness. It’s all part of the California Department of Housing & Community Development’s “No Place Like Home” program.

“This project particularly has been going on for a long time for 6+ years and the project needs to find dollars actually to make it work. And this was a unique opportunity where the state had money funding available," Walsh added.

With the funding, 50 units will be reserved for mentally ill individuals experiencing homelessness along with wrap-around services. The other 100 rooms will continue to be affordable housing units. “We don't necessarily want people like they get in the units and fall out of housing," Walsh explained, "We want to find ways like you're in the housing, how do we get you stably housed.”

Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez says homelessness is a problem every city faces. “We know that mental health is something that affects a lot of families. It's something that when you think about homelessness, it's also interwoven within the homelessness community.”

Hernandez believes that building more housing to take care of them is a long-term solution to part of the problem. “If we're going to address, you know, homelessness, we need to make sure that one, we can want to get the homeless into facilities where there's going to be wraparound services, they're going to be housed and sheltered and, and ultimately, they can kind of get a good foundation underneath for them.”

The project will cost about $72 for the City of Coachella. Construction is expected to begin in 2024.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.

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