Success Stories

January 2016

Redwood Community Action Agency's TOOTH program recently expanded their educational outreach to Daycares through a generous grant funded by the HRSA foundation. Both Providers and children have welomed this addition to their programs with enthusiasm and appreciation. TOOTH Oral Health Educators have created a cirriculum both engaging and informative with the ability to reach the diverse age range of individuals often present in a daycare setting. (From infants to toddlers, TOOTH focuses on the important ob our teeth have in the overall health of our bodies). The lessons teach children the important job of taking care of their teeth while giving them the tools necessary to do just that. Information for adults and dental supplies for each child are sent home. In many instances, Daycare Providers have already prepared the children before the first lesson, learning about teeth, talking about their own experiences going to the dentist, brusing and good nutrition. The results have been an enriching and rewarding experience for everyone. 


January 2016

The Loleta Community Building Initiative

Bringing People Together in Public Spaces and Enhancing Health

Over a period of four years, the community of Loleta has worked together to develop strong, capable community leaders and implement a shared vision of improved public spaces in which to be active, safe and healthy. This project was unique because it allowed the community to come up with their top priorities to improve the health of Loleta, using their own wisdom and ideas. With funding from the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund, the non-profit Redwood Community Action Agency supported the formation and great work of the Loleta Local Organizing Committee (LOC), which formed in 2011 after a community-wide "listening campaign". This listening campaign involved on-on-one conversations with more than 150 residents of Loleta. Residents identified their concerns for their families, their hopes for Loleta and the vision they had as individuals for the community. The LOC was able to achieve incredible things from 2011 - 2015 thanks, in part, to the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership fund, including:

-Formed the Local Organizing Committee to make decisions, spend grant money on shared goals, and meet community needs as they arise - including needs for volunteers, sharing information and supporting small projects. All meetings have Spanish interpretation avaailable and it is frequently used.

-Supported the Loleta School in charging the school's discipline practices to emphasize positive behavior through the PBIS model.

-Helped the Loleta School Parent-Teacher Organization buy equipment and host regular Family Movie Nights that were open to the entire Loleta community.

-Established weekly, all-ages fitness classes with a certified personal trainer on Monday evenings at the Loleta School gymnasium. These will continue after the conclusion of the grant funding.

-Built and paid for a playground, stage, new benches, gravel pathe, balance beam, plantings, drainage improvements, community compass signs about local history and culture, and more in the park.

The Loleta Local Organizing Committee would like to express sincere thanks to the local community who provided their ideas, enthusiasm and hard work as volunteers supporting a better shared future. The LOC would also like to thank the helpful and supportive team at St. Joseph Health who have made this work possible including the Loleta Community Resource Center staff; community organizations, institutions and governments who have helped immensely, including the Loleta Community Chamber, Loleta Community Services District, the Wiyot Tribe, Bear River Rancheria, and Loleta School and Loleta Parent-Teacher Organization, the County of Humboldt, and the Loleta Community Church.

In 1986, St. Joseph Health (SJH) created a plan and began an effort to further its commitment to neighbors in need. With a vision of reaching beyond the walls of its healthcare facilities and transcending traditional efforts of providing care for those in need, SJH created the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund to improve the health of low-income individuals residing in local communities. 


MAY  2015

AFACTR SUCCESS STORY

Ms. Chev sought us out at the FRC after she had started taking actions to resolve a barrier to staying housed; she had tried responding to the letters from a Housing Authority inspection to resolve the notice and compliance issues. Ms. Chev is a single mother with two adolescent children, and they use a Section 8 housing voucher to subsidize Mom's out of pocket costs towards rent. Ms. Chev had not been able to make it through to speak with a worker about her case in any of her calls to the Housing Authority. She arrived in my office with letters regarding the time contingency on the notices, although she had yet to hear back from anyone with whom she had left a message. In one of the letters it stated that they had now issued a deadline to resolve the issues and that otherwise her assistance would be revoked.

As soon as I sat down with Ms. Chev we were able to have someone help her fill out a small grant application to fund the costs for resolving one of the issues listed on the notice. In time, her request was accepted and shortly thereafter she used the check at the DMV office. We still had not been able to reach anyone at the Housing Authority.

We called Humboldt Sanitation, the local waste management company, but heard that they did not offer the same one-time (per year) large item pick-up and removal assistance that is available to residents in nearby Eureka, CA. Ms. Chev set out to get a quote for the removal from some locals and in doing so she was able to negotiate a payment plan that suits her budget. We still were not sure if she would be in full compliance by the deadline or if she would be able to defend this case before they revoked assistance.

During this time, an attorney from legal services met to speak with the AFACTR cohort about the cases that are eligible for legal assistance and the kinds of cases that they end up defending. In speaking with him about Ms. Chev's case, he shared that in the last year the Housing Authority's inspections have been increasingly severe, using unreasonable grounds to terminate assistance from their residents who rely on these vouchers to stay housed.

Shortly thereafter, we filled out the application for legal services and along with it sent all of the notices, grant applications, quotes, and a summary of the groundwork and progress that had been made in case management to prevent the termination of housing assistance. Within a few days, Ms. Chev was in correspondence  with a lawyer who said she was going to represent her case. Weeks later, Ms. Chev calls to share that the lawyer has been in correspondence with and sent the Housing Authority a letter on behalf of the case.  The lawyer alone has already put 20 hours of legal assistance time into this case. A week later, Ms. Chev received mail from her lawyer sharing the last letter sent to her by the Housing Authority stating that the case will not go to court, and that the ground for termination have been reviewed and she will be keeping her assistance.

Ms. Chev has shared that she would like us to work together to reach out to the community's Section 8 residents who may be experiencing similar challenges so that the framework  that she's learned to use through her case can guide others in navigating the inspection notices in order to remain housed.

Respectfully Submitted by Alexis Gallardo


NRS Success Story-May 2015

Redwood Crossing Guard Program Unveils Pilot Volunteer Program at Lafayette Elementary

The Eureka Safe Routes to School Task Force, coordinated by the Natural Resources Services (NRS) Division, is pleased to announce that it has rolled out a volunteer crossing guard program  at Lafayette Elementary School. This pilot program is the first all-volunteer crossing guard program  in the County and is likely only one of a handful of similar programs statewide.

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Branch (PHB) received a non-infrastructure Safe Routes to School grant in 2012 for the Redwood Crossing Guard Program. The purpose of the grant  is to provide support for adult crossing guards in Humboldt County and to develop a volunteer program  that can serve as a model for schools countywide. NRS has been working with PHB for the past 3 years on this project which involved collecting data, working with interested schools, researching liability issues, developing a crossing guard curriculum, training law enforcement to be trainers, and recruiting and scheduling volunteers.

The program started by training existing crossing guards and after several years, this pilot volunteer program was finally launched in April 2015 for an 8-week test period with the intention  of starting up again after summer  break in the fall. The U.S. Coast Guard has a housing unit directly across the street from Lafayette Elementary  and many active duty Coast Guard members have stepped up as volunteers serving a pivotal role in making this dream a reality. The RCGP is an important part of ensuring the health and safety of local children by developing safe walking and bicycling environments as well as encouraging families to choose active modes of transportation.


Emily Sinkhorn has received a 2015 California Coastal Trail Award from the state Coastal Conservancy and Coastwalk California.

Sinkhorn - who was honored for exceptional leadership from the private nonprofit and public agency sectors -is the deputy director for the Natural Resources Services Division of the Redwood Community Action Agency, a nonprofit organization based in Eureka.

"For the past five-plus years, Emily Sinkhorn has worked tirelessly to promote several Coastal Trail projects throughout Humboldt County and was a leading force behind the preparation of the Humboldt County Coastal Trail Implementation Strategy," said Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the Coastal Conservancy. "Her passion for trails is contagious and motivates others around her to join in the campaign to complete the trail in her region."

The award was presented April 23 at the annual statewide trails conference hosted by the state Department of Parks and Recreation. Attended by over 500 trail professionals in both the public and private sector, the annual three-day conference attracts participants from all over California who share a passion for expanding recreational opportunities for the public at large.

The California Coastal Trail will one day run the entire 1,200-mile length of the coast, linking the urban, rural, and wilderness areas that together make up California's world-renowned coastline. More than half of the trail is now in place, with new segments and support facilities being added every year. In 1999, the California Coastal Trail was designated at the state and federal level as a Millenium Legacy Trail.

For more information, visit http://scc.ca.gov/2010/01/07/the-california-coastal-trail/.

Coastwalk is a California-wide nonprofit organization that advocates for coastal protection and access via the California Coastal Trail and offers fun and educational walking tours. Its mission is to ensure the right of all people to reach and responsibly enjoy the California coast.

For more information, visit http://coastwalk.org.

The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency that works with the people of California to protect and improve the coast and San Francisco Bay. The conservancy has helped open more than 100 miles of coast and bay shores to the public and preserve more than 400,000 acres of wetlands, wildlife habitat, parks, and farmland. For more information, visit http://scc.ca.gov.


McKinleyville Land Trust

McKINLEYVILLE- The McKinleyville Land Trust (MLT) has been awarded a grant of $143,000  to develop its Chah-GAH-Cho property  for greater public access and enjoyment, including a long­ awaited trail improvement program.

"We are thrilled to get this funding," said MLT Board President  Tom Lisle. "The hard work and support of a lot of people in our community  has finally paid off, and we are on the way to fulfilling a dream. It's a win for us and a win for McKinleyville."

Chah-GAH-Cho is located behind the Mill Creek Marketplace in McKinleyville, adjacent to the Big Kmart parking area and the Healthsport building. It's been a special place for MLT since 1994, when MLTwas formed to receive and manage the property  as mitigation to preserve the remaining natural area in the Mill Creek Marketplace development.

Chah-GAH-Cho provides 9.4 acres of natural environment  and recreational opportunities  for the community. People come to stroll and walk their dogs on informal trails. An area of prairie offers a spectacular view of the Mad River,  the Hammond Bridge, Arcat Bottom and the ocean, and there are forested groves  of Douglas fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce  and alder.

Funding wa awarded through the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program of the

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5'112015 McKinleyville to get new trails at Chah-GAH-Cho 1 Mad River Union

California Natural Resources Agency. MLT partnered with Redwood Commumty  Action Agency (RC AA) to submit the proposal. The RCAA  staff and California Conservation Corps members will build a sys tem of crushed-rock trails including several accessible by wheelchairs.

In addition, the project will include an informational kiosk, trailhead signs, bike racks, a ballard gate, fenced boundaries and dogipots.

The grant will also help continue restoration efforts on the land, which was used as pasture on part of a ranch for decades. Thinning of the smaller conifers will encourage  growth of large trees in the forested area as well as reclaim some of the original prairie. Efforts to control non-native invasive species  such as English ivy and pampas grass will continue.

When the project is completed, Chah-GAH-Cho will compliment MLT's popular Mad River Bluffs as an attractive and accessible open space in another part of town. The 74-acre  Mad River Bluffs, with developed  trails offering a variety of views and habitats to explore, provides a model of what Chah­ GAH-Cho will become.

Redwood Community Action Associatlon (RCAA) submitted  the grant proposal in cooperation with MLT. RCAA Natural Resources Service wilt manage and implement the project to build trails and complete other property improvements. RCAA also partnered with MLT in 2011 to develop the trail system at Mad River Bluffs.

The Chah-GAH-Cho project is also supported with grants from Coast Central Credit Union's Community Investment Program and the McKinleyville Area Foundation, as well as individual donations. Additionally, MLT has received in-kind donations from local businesses. which have helped in fundraising and in maintaining the property. The MLT gratefully acknowledges the support of the community and looks forward to completing this project. Work will begin in late summer or fall.


February 2015

The Rio Dell Community Resource Center presented the Nurturing Parenting Community

based Program to the community over a five week period from November to December. We had a total of 5 different parent/guardians' attend the classes collectively. One grandmother completed the entire series of 10 workshops with great enthusiasm for the program. She even shared on a few occasions after returning to the workshops that she shared the information sent home from the last class with the other adults living in her home. She wants to encourage one of her daughters to come to the next series of the classes we present towards the end of February. This gives me great hope for the success of this program in our community in the future.

AFACTR Success Story for February

The names of the family members in this story have been changed to ensure their anonymity. After some initial phone correspondence it's after hours when Elaine,Cory and Luke meet McKinleyville's Case Management team at the local McDonald's to arrange emergency shelter for the family. Mom and Luke are recently displaced from Domestic Violence and on the road relocating to Humboldt County where Cory's sister lives and works. Mom  and Cory have been good friends since they were children, seeing each other through their adolescent years,adult break upspregnancies and children, and their reciprocal and supportive relationship has only recently evolved into a romantic  partnership.

We make sure to ask the family ifthey can make use of any emergency food assistance and what foods would be appropriate for the next few days as they stay in the motel accommodations we have provided. As we sit in the booth discussing our plan for the next day the family members share that their dog has just recently been removed from their  possession and that they're  automobile has fallen into disrepair since they arrived in Humboldt County. They're from out of state and Elaine and Luke have not only left behind their abusive home environment but also their natural family support net.Cory suffers

from Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and his condition has been unaddressed and worsening since they've been on the road; we also find out that he's been dealing with chronic ear pain without medical attention for several weeks.

Immediately, the family expresses an outpouring of gratitude and graciousness thanking us for everything we're doing to assist and support. The very next day we set out to do as planned:we meet at McDonalds  and take Luke to school,and then we provide transportation for Mom and Cory to get to their appointment at the Department of Health and Human Services with their CaiWorks worker and to apply to the Winter Shelter Program. We also make a referral to the Arcata House Partnership and Mom completes the phone intake process for the transitional supportive housing program and secures their next available appointment.

Within a week of our initial contact the family is housed living a block away from Luke's school, a mile in distance from Cory's sister's home and potential place of employment,and Mom is working part-time as a caregiver for the County. They were placed in the transitional housing program through the Arcata House Partnership, where they are provided with ongoing Case Management support and saving 80% of their income every month to prepare for move out expenses.The Arcata House has also mentioned they may be able to offer them financial assistance through their  rapid rehousing funds once that time comes. Once they were housed we were able to re-imagine their initial housing timeline  and plan,we provided additionalhousing support my providing them with low income and subsidized housing resources to meet their interests, travelling to pick up applications in order to get on waiting lists in the neighborhoods and housing complexes of their preference.

YSB Success Story

Chris lived in the Launch Pad program around 2008 due to mother being homeless and Dad was deceased.

While in Launch Pad Chris did an outstanding job saving his income.  When he was ready to move out he saved over $3000.

During the first week of Feb, 2015 he· stopped by for a visit.  It had been years since he lived here He informed this writer he graduated college, has a family, good job and iin the process of choosing a grad school.  He was very thankful for all the assistance he received from RCAA's Launch Pad several years back He shared his story with several current employees and youth who currently reside at Launch Pad.


January 2015

New mental health-law enforcement team hits the streets

By Aaron West, awest@times-standard.com Times-Standard.com

From left: Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Director Phillip Crandall, Eureka Police Department Chief Andrew Mills and EPD Detective Neil Hubbard meet to discuss the new Mobile Intervention and Services Team.

A new partnership.between Humboldt County's Department of Health and Human Services and the Eureka Police Department aims to strike a better balance between enforcement and care when it comes to the city's severely mentally challenged homeless.

The Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST), which began working this week, pairs a Eureka Police Officer and a licensed DHHS clinician together to proactively engage homeless people who are suffering from severe mental illness, assess what kind of help they might need, and refer them to available services or help them find immediate assistance-should the individual choose to accept such help, according to a DHHS press release. Then the third member of the team, a DHHS mental health case manager, follows up with the individual and helps to further assess needs and provide continued care.

"It's building on what we're beginning to understand about the populations of homeless in the city of Eureka and we're using the team as an on-the-ground effort to get a better idea about who these individuals.are and what their needs might be," DHHS Director Phillip Crandall said. "It's an investigative team and the idea is to initially work with the homeless that seem to be struggling due to a mental illness and are more likely to be preyed upon by other people."

The team, which patrols certain areas of the Eureka about 16 hours a week, is a departure from the current model of enforcement, EPD Capt. Steve Watson said.

Watson, who helps to oversee the program, said that prior to MIST, police officers typically responding to calls regarding an individual who appeared to be mentally ill or abusing substances or both were frequently put in the position of having to determine if that person would be best served by a trip to either the Humboldt County jail or Sempervirens Psychiatric Health Facility. With the new team, which combines the on-the-ground familiarity and authority of law enforcement with the mental health expertise of a DHHS clinician, the determination is more accurate and the range of possible treatments expanded, before the complaint call even comes in, Watson said.

Those emergency options are still available, but now there are more options," he said. "What's going to change is the hand-off and follow-up. And that's something where law enforcement has been weak -you have an intervention in the field that results in incarceration or at the psychiatric health facility and that's the end. We walk away and aren't so much involved in the process afterward -the left hand wasn't working with the right hand so smoothly. Now that we'll be working side by side with mental health services, the communication will be better and the effort will be more focused."

The improvements have already begun, according to Kelly Johnson, a DHHS mental health clinician. Johnson, who started going out on patrol with EPD Officer Louis Attic on Monday, said the duo has already encountered and engaged with several people the program was created for.

"(Friday) was our fourth time out, and you know, it's actually been pretty successful," Johnson said. "We've made contact with multiple people that have been on DHHS and EPD's radar­ folks that have fallen through the cracks and haven't been able to access services or receive follow-up services."

Since the engagement is proactive, Johnson noted, meaning that it takes place before a complaint call is received or a crime is committed, homeless individuals can choose whether or not to accept help. She said that thus far reaction has been positive, partially because of the combination of services that the team brings.

"Most people have been pretty receptive," Johnson said. "I have the feeling that when you're with a law enforcement officer people are more likely to talk to you. We're clear with people that they're not in trouble and they're free to go at any time, but having someone in a uniform with you allows access to people who maybe wouldn't be as likely to respond to a mental health professional."

For instance, Johnson pointed to a man the team was able to help on Friday- after a few days of making contact with him and building trust beforehand-by finding him temporary housing for 10 days and also be put in contact with the team's DHHS case manager, Moonie Higginson.

"I don't press too hard," Johnson said. "I'm coming from a social work perspective where I believe that if I'm forcing someone to do something it won't be successful. Right now I'm building relationships and trust, and I think that's the best way to help."

Temporary housing wasn't the optimal solution for that individual-"He needs housing that's more permanent," she said-but it's preferred to what might have happened otherwise ­ arrest, incarceration and then back on the streets. And more permanent solutions in regard to housing goes is in the future, Crandall said, along with possible expansion of the program if it's successful.

Now that new funding has been made available through the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Heatlh Services Act, Crandall said DHHS is shooting to have the Multiple Assistance Center Assessment Unit.

New mental health-law enforcement team hits the streets needs by summertime, but for the time being the Mobile Intervention and Services Team is a step in the right direction.

"The first step is to form the core team -the law enforcement mental health team -and to hit the streets and see what we learn based on the expanded services and support that team will offer," Crandall said. "Then in the future we can connect that with the intake and assessment capacity at the MAC and hopefully we'll have the ability to assess and stabilize and then connect with other providers in the community."

Contact Aaron West at 707-441-0509.


January 2015

GRAY MATTERS: Full speed ahead

By Carol Harrison, For the Times-Standard Times-Standard.com

The local effort to bring a "Village concept" to the North Coast moves full speed ahead next month.

On Feb. 21, volunteers will join work groups to research the business plans, services and marketing needed to create a North Coast "village" -a network designed to help people remain in their homes as long as possible by accessing services that address the needs of aging.

From noon to 3 p.m. that day, Redwood Community Action Agency will work with the Senior Action Coalition, Area 1 Agency on Aging and community volunteers to organize the grass­ roots effort to form a consumer- and community-driven model for aging in place. The village concept is growing by leaps and bounds nationwide.

"The main purpose is to roll up our sleeves and get working," said Emily Sinkhorn, deputy director of the Natural Resources Services Division for RCAA. "There needs to be a lot of community involvement to research what models would be appropriate for a village in a rural area where many seniors live in different population centers. Anyone interested in working towards a village is welcome."

Through some combination of membership, staff and volunteering, villages usually offer basic core services covered by a membership fee in addition to concierge services, community­ building opportunities, and health and wellness services.

Sinkhorn and A1AA Executive Director Maggie Kraft said work groups would not be starting from scratch. A1AA is a member of the Village-to-Village Network that has already helped more than 100 communities form villages to help people age in place, and Senior Action Coalition members began jumping on the organizational bandwagon in earnest in December.

"They are a nonpartisan mix of powerful, experienced folks with a can-do attitude," Sinkhorn said of SAC. "We are beyond the talking stage and we hope that after the work groups do their research, we can form a steering committee to further guide this process."

A1AA is also breaking down the Northcoast at Home Survey conducted last fall to assess community needs and interests around aging in place. Almost 74 percent of the 1,380 respondents said they would join a local village in the next 10 years.

"We are following a tried and true framework," Sinkhorn said. "The network offers a lot of tools and resources to help us understand what other villages have and how they manage, but we have a lot of research to do to figure out what makes sense for our area."

Sinkhorn knows from experience how a little bit of help can make a big difference for a senior who is trying to remain in her own home.

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"My grandmother, who passed away last fall, was able to stay in her home for quite some time," Sinkhorn said. "But if there was a network to support little things like changing a light bulb or fixing a computer-things that seem little but add up - it would have helped her quality of life."

A1AA and the Senior Action Coalition have been working together with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to increase awareness about the "village concept" through a series of free, brown-bag lunch seminars conducted from noon to 1:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center (921 Waterfront Drive) in Eureka.

More than 70 people attended each of the November and December village luncheons. Kraft expects at least as many, if not more, to show up for the Feb. 4 update that will include the announcement of the formal name of the village.

"Now through Feb. 2, we are voting for the village name," Kraft said.

People who want to cast a ballot should visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/sNillageName and choose from the five name options: North Coast Village, North Coast Neighbors Network, North Coast at Home, Redwood Coast Village, or Humboldt at Home. To stay updated on the Village effort and sign up for thee-newsletter, visit www.a1aa.org.

Village updates and information are also scheduled for brown-bag luncheons on March 4, April 1 and May 6.

OLLI membership is not required to attend any of its Wednesday brown-bag events or the

Feb. 21 work group meeting. They are free and open to the public.

Senior Action Coalition counts 30 committed regulars and another 60 "e-activists" targeting issues that affect local seniors. The coalition meets the third Wednesday of every month from

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Jefferson Community Center, 1000 B St. in Eureka. These brown-bag lunch meetings are also open to all.

Area 1 Agency on Aging contracted with Carol Harrison to write this article.·


January 2015

A NEW PARTNERSHIP

EUREKA· new partnership between the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services is designed to improve the quality of life in Eureka.

Last Thursday, an EPD officer and a Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health Clinician together began contacting Eureka's homeless and mentally ill out in the community, as part of the Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST).

"Policing is a very complex and difficult job and so is mentalhealth workers on that sdi e, that's very complex also. To expect one person to have all of that knowledgein one location is really difficult," said EPD Police Chief Andrew Mills.

"What we're trying to do is to encounter, to meet with, to assess individuals out in the streets and begin to understand who these individuals are, what their stories are and then based on those stories, what services and supports they might need,' said Phillip Crandall, the Director of Humboldt County DHHS.

Then, a DHHS Case Manager who is part of MIST will work with the homeless to connect them with necessary services, including counseling, medication support, substance abuse services and housing.

"We have rapid re-housnig stock, some available, and we'll be scrambling to look at what type of housing is available with the case manager to locate and place in housing. If they need a more stable environment, we'll bring them to our hospital, our psychiatric emergency services,' Crandall said.

MIST is targeting the 30 people in Eureka. Then, the team will continue to serve other homeless and mentally ill people in the city.

In July, when the Multiple Assistance Center in Eureka is converted into housing individuals and not families, people contacted by MIST will be able to temporarily live there as well.

Police Chief Mills says the new team will benefit the poilce department.as well.

"If we can just deal with one person a week and get them the help they need, that's 52 people a year, and 52 people a year off the streets creating fewer radio calls can be as much as 500 to 1,000 radio calls a year, allowing us to get out and get after other crime problems," Police Chief Mills said.

Officials say the program will continue to evolve.

"We're going to change maybe how we operate occasionally to make it the best way possible to impact the homeless in our area,' said Police Chief Mills.


January 2015

A NEW TRANSITION

EUREKA- A transitional living program in Eureka is going through a transition of its own. Now, some residents are saying they're worried about what the future holds.

The Multiple Assistance Center in Eureka temporarily houses 17 previously homeless families who are participating in CaiWORKS.

"I genuinely love the MAC. I really like what the MAC offers. It doesn't just teach us about housing, it teaches us how to be good parents, it teaches us how to be stable individuals, how to be a productive member of society,'said Denise Mattson, who has lived at the Multiple Assistance Center since October of 2014.

Starting July 1, the center will only house single people and the families currently at the MAC will have to find permanent housing. County officials say the change is due to Federal Housing and Urban Development funding shifting towards rapid re-housing programs and permanent supportive housing as opposed to transitional housning.

'If we were not to respond in kind with looking at these changes and regulations, our ability to attract funding would be greatly diminished,' said Val Martinez, the Executive Director of the Redwood Community Action Agency.

County officials also say new funding opportunities led to the MAC only housing singles in the future.

"Those are opportunities, particularly with the Affordable Care Act, that we didn't have before to serve the singles who have not really been addressed in our community," said Barbara Lahaie, the Assistant Director of Programs for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials say the famliies who will have to find new housing will continue to be served moving forward.

"We're confident that with the expertise of our employees and with the hard work of the families and our community, that we'll be able to find the permanent housing that these families need,' Lahaie said. "The funding that we have been using to support the famiiles at the MAC will go with them, so that's the CaiWORKS funds, and that will support them in their first and last month's rent if that's what's needed, in addition to case management services, employment services,debt  services."

Some residents are still worried what the future holds.

"Will we be in housing?  I'm not sure. It's a real struggle for my family personally because we don't have great credit and my husband is a surgical technician, he has a degree and he can't get into work right now. Unfortunately, there's only two hospitals and they're not hiring.  Myself personally, I've looked for work and I've struggled having employment, so getting into a house is kind of unrealistic for us,' Mattson said.

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January 2015

Community joins to count homeless

By Juniper Rose , Eureka Times-Standard Times-Standard.com

Karen "Fox" Olsen, a committee member for the Point in Time Homeless Count and executive director of Arcata House, unloads socks at the North Coast Veterans Resource Center in Eureka on Tuesday. Shaun Walker

-The Times-Standard

Humboldt County homeless assistance programs received more than $647,000 of funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Any county in the U.S. that receives funding from HUD is required to do a Point in Time count.

Arcata House Partnership: $316,493 for Apartments First! and SVK House permanent supportive housing programs.

Humboldt Bay Housing and Development Corp.: $27,721 for permanent supportive housing. Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services: $44,671 for Humboldt

Housing; $45,431 for HIV/AIDS Re-Housing Team.

Redwood Community Action Agency: $39,092 for the Youth Service Bureau Launch Pad transitional living program for homeless youth or youth fleeing from dangerous living situations; $104,147 for the Multiple Assistance Center.

Humboldt County's Homeless Management Information Systems: $69,500

Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition also receives funding from HUD.

A mission to count all of the homeless people in Humboldt County in one day is an inherent challenge, but that is exactly what organizations seek to do on Jan.28. -

Bases will be set up at various locations throughout the county, inviting homeless people to stop by to take a survey and, as an incentive, pick up a free pair of socks, two dollars and a cup of coffee donated to the cause by businesses in the community.

At the same time, troops of volunteers will set out into the streets to make contact with the people who may not be able or willing to go to one of the hubs.

Where: Professional Building 507 F St., corner 5th and F, Eureka, mezzanine level.

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1114/2015 Community joins to count homeless

Point in Time volunteers can chose to attend one of the following training sessions:

• Thursday, Jan. 15 from 1-2:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, Jan. 20 from 8:30-10:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Jan. 22 from 4-5:30 p.m.

• Monday, Jan. 26 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

For more information visit humboldthousing.org or contact the volunteer coordinator at 707- 599-3334.

It's called the Point in Time count and is required by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for any county that seeks to receive funding through HUD.

"Even though it is not a perfect study, a Point in Time in a given night helps us take a closer look," said Barbara LaHaie, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services assistant director of programs and co-chair of the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition. "It really does give us good information about what is happening in our county and how our services are matching up to those needs."

Humboldt County has conducted four PIT studies, counting the homeless populations in

2005, 2009, 2011 and 2013 and comparing data collected in each study, but this year a Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition committee seeks to gather more concise, accurate data from the highest percentage of the homeless population possible, said Sara Cagle, PIT committee member and representative for the North Coast Veterans Resource Center.

The survey includes basic demographic data, but the committee has also chosen a few questions with the goal of addressing some specific issues, Cagle said.

For instance, the committee will ask the income of those on the streets as well as whether or not they have been discharged from any facilities, she said.

"We have really shrunk the survey down. Two years ago it was approximately four pages long," Cagle said. "We have really focused more on good clean data."

This year the survey that will be used is one double-sided page, she said.

The committee has been working toward the PIT count for almost a year, and they are now in the final stages of attracting and training volunteers to do the legwork the day of the survey.

1/14/2015 Community joins to count homeless committee is seeking more help from the community and has also expanded the number locations where homeless people can stop in to take the study, Cagle said.

There will be two hubs in Eureka, and one each in Arcata, McKinleyville, Willow Creek, Garberville and Fortuna, she said.

In previous counts, 70 to 80 percent of the homeless people in the county were most likely accounted for, Cagle said.

"Of course we are aiming to count them all, but realistically our goal is to get 1,800 surveys completed," she said.

In 2011 the number of homeless people surveyed was much higher than in 2013, but it is possible that this was indicative of less volunteers and outreach rather than the actual number of homeless, Cagle said.

The changing numbers makes it difficult to know the success of the count, according to Karen

"Fox" Olson, a HHHC member and executive director of Arcata House.

"Our numbers went down and yet when you look around it doesn't seem like they have gone down," she said. "We either didn't do that great of a job and we missed a bunch of people or people are using the services and have gotten into permanent housing."

The numbers can not be expected to be as accurate as a census because of the transient lifestyle of those being counted, Eureka Police Department Chief Andy Mills said.

"I think it helps us establish an accurate as possible baseline for determining the context and the problems we have," Mills said. "We do use all data, including that data, to help us understand the complexity of the issue."

The data that Point in Time collects, while it is not scientific, can help those in public service with an interest in improving the community.

"It gives us an idea of where we need to strategically place ourselves in order to make the biggest difference," Mills said.

The data collected can also be used to show outsiders specific areas of need within the community, Cagle said. Identifying that there was a high number of veterans on the street lead to the North Coast Veteran's Resource Center being able to secure vouchers to support permanent housing for local veterans through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program which pays a percentage of a veteran's rent.

"We were able to argue our case -we are showing you that there is a need for this in our area," Cagle said.

In 2012, North Coast Veteran's Resource Center received vouchers for 25 veterans and a recent 29 vouchers were added to that amount, she said.

1/1412015 Community joins to count homeless

The reports and information that come out of the count also help to displace some of the misconceptions about homelessness in the county, Cagle said.

While many people assume that those who live on the streets don't have an income, asking this questions on the survey might show otherwise, she said.

"There is a large majority that do have income, it is just not enough to sustain a household," Cagle said. "That is something we are hoping to get more information on which could hopefully lead to more low income housing."

Cagle said taking part in the study as a volunteer in previous years dispelled some of her own misconceptions about the homeless population.

When Cagle went out on the streets with the volunteer teams to inquire about homeless people's lives, she was nervous, she said.

"It was nothing like I expected, to be honest," Cagle said. "I had it in my mind that it was going to be really scary but it wasn't. It was very rewarding. It was very powerful to have people tell their story."

The volunteers go out in pairs or teams and those that they approach are surprisingly willing to take the survey, especially considering the rewards offered, she said.

"I would say for the most part most of them were very interested," she said. "I was kind of intimidated. Of course we all have stereotypes in our head, but it wasn't that at all."

The more volunteers, organizations and others who get involved with the count, the more awareness will be spread throughout the community and country, Olson said.

"It is unacceptable to have people on the streets, the more people that are concerned about that, I say bring it on- we need all the help we can get," she said. "We need everybody saying that as a county we have enough that we can do better."

Contact Juniper Rose at 707-441-0506.

Reach the author at jrose@times-standard.com  or follow Juniper on Twitter: juniperjrose.


December 2015

Before I came to the MAC, I had been living on the railroad tracks for 8 years, moving from tent to tent between Eureka and Fortuna. One day, I happened to be at Free Meal with my sister, who approached staff with SOS. My sister started asking questions to staff there, "being nosy", as I call it, and convinced me to talk to a staff member with SOS who told me to "quit feeling sorry for myself" and to "just keep putting on foot in front of the other," She told me there was something better on the other side, and to just keep working to get there.

I agreed to fill out paper work, and after a few weeks, I came to live at the MAC. This was in July 2015, one week after they opened. Since I came here, I have felt welcome and cared for by everyone here. I might not have always gotten what I wanted, but I have always gotten what I needed. All staff worked together to make sure I was being assisted with anything I needed, and anyone was able to step in to carry the load for another staff when necessary. After a little while, I was even given my own room, and remember the day when I was told I would be able to have more privacy and comfort during my stay here. The kitchen staff has also been a wonderful part of my time at the MAC. They have accommodated my dietary restrictions, and have such wonderful, positive attitudes. I have gained 25 pounds since I moved here, which is something I had not been able to do prior to coming to the MAC. 

During my stay here, I have also been able to access much-needed healthcare, particularly with my vision. My eyesight was so poor, I could only make out shapes and movement; everything was a blur. After undergoing operations to remove cataracts in my eyes between October and November, I now have nearly perfect vision in both eyes. I appreciate the support the MAC staff gave me during my recovery, and the fact that I have been able to access any other medical care I needed through Mobile Medical. It has been so convenient to have everything I need in one place, where I can easily get to it. 

The most important part of my time at the MAC has been my housing search. I want to thank my housing coordinator Jessica for taking me all over Humboldt County to various appointments, and apartment viewings, and for keeping me on track with everything I needed to get for my applications. I also want to thank staff members Wendy, Molly, Mariah, and especially Jennifer for assisting me with applications, writing letters, and doing work on the computer. Because of the MAC, I will be moving into my apartment by the end of this month (December). I will be able to live with my sister in a centrally located 2 bedroom apartment in Eureka. It has been nine years since I have had my own place, and I am so happy that I made the decision to come to the MAC.

All my family, including my sister, agrees that my attitude and health have improved dramatically over the months I have been at the MAC. My sister and I have a great relationship now, and she says I have a renewed sense of purpose in my life now. She feels that I have not only improved my attitude and my health but that I have learned how to live independently and be successful on my own.

I can't believe how much the MAC has helped me, and I can't thank the staff, Casey and Ian, and everyone here enough. To me, it represents home, friends, moms and dads. Even when you need a shoulder to cry on, the MAC is here for you. 



November 2014

 
Lake Earl Wildlife Area
 
RCAA was contracted to design nine interpretive natural and cultural history panels for the Lake Earl Wildlife Area in Del Norte County. Working with the Tolowa Dunes Stewards, Focus on Nature, C.A. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Smith River Alliance, interpretive panels covered topics from biodiversity of plant and wildlife species and life cycle of the coastal cutthroat trout to the Tolowa Dee-ni’ people and early farming in the area. RCAA oversaw design, fabrication and installation of interpretive panels and prefabricated kiosk structures.
 
PALCO Marsh Interpretive Trail
 
RCAA was contracted by the City of Eureka to design a series of interpretive panels for the PALCO Marsh trail. Interpretive panels covered topics from railroad and lumber mill history over the last 150 years to restoration efforts that have revitalized the salt marsh habitat and function. RCAA worked with local contractors and consultants to install an informational kiosk at the foot of Del Norte Street. 
RCAA implemented four interpretive pads along the trail that host interpretive signs, benches and picnic tables in addition to surface enhancements along the trail corridor.

October 2014


August 2014

Natural Resources Services

Sequoia Park Zoo’s Watershed Heroes Exhibit

Sunday August 17th marked the grand opening of the Zoo’s much-anticipated Watershed Heroes exhibit. NRS staff, Denise Newman, joined the Zoo’s interpretive design team in the early conceptual stages and oversaw final signage development and fabrication of over 50 sign panels interpreting three native species: river otter, salmon and bald eagles.  The exhibit is immersive in nature, with concrete ‘rock work’ simulating the topography of a watershed; complete with cascading falls and a trickle of water leading through an ‘estuary’ into the spiral ‘ocean’ gyre. The ‘upper watershed’ includes ‘river’ and ‘forest’ elements, including the Watershed Heroes Headquarters, where visitors can find evidence of the human footprint within the watershed.  A crawl through tube allows visitors an up-close otter experience and the watershed play area invites kids and adults alike. Planning is in the conceptual stages now for expanding the Native Predators exhibit into the future.


June/July 2014

PDF Success Stories

Youth Services

Donations  continue to come in for the Solid Ground Campaign.   Our new total is $118,956, thanks to our generous donors.


17 year old Bridget had been living under a bridge outside of Sacramento  for several months. She was eventually able to contact a family member  who agreed  to bring her to Humboldt County. Unfortunately the family member was also homeless and has substance abuse issues so was unable to provide Bridget with housing.

Bridget contacted the YSB shelter and staff quickly did an intake.  During the intake it was revealed that Bridget had several  injuries due to living outside  so  they took her in to see a doctor. YSB staff also assisted with getting Bridget clothes to help restore confidence. Goals have been set  with Bridget and she currently is in the process  of applying to the long term  program Launch Pad.

 

Summertime is a favorite time of year for the Youth Service Bureau staff and participants! And it's no wonder, with a variety of activities offered throughout the summer months.

The Raven Project just returned from a rafting trip on the Trinity River, where even the rain couldn't dampen spirits!  As we write this, youth from YSB are at the Redding Water Slides enjoying the sunshine, hot weather and cold.cold water! Other activities include trips to the river, hiking, a Madeket trip around the Bay, barbeques, and more. Activities are selected by youth participants (with staff) ana voted on, so the variety is endless. 

In June, RAVEN had a number of successes.

On June 24-25, RAVEN took 7 youth ranging in age from 16-21 on a rafting and camping trip on the Klamath river. It was a big success. Even though it rained while we were out on the river, not a single person complained.  We splashed in the water, swam, rafted, had tons of fun and saw some turtles, snakes, baby ducks, and osprey. 

Recently, one of our long-term clients returned after not using services for a couple of years. He attended a drum circle group in May, where we went out to Samoa beach and played drums in the Samoa beach tunnel. The reverb in the tunnel was amazing, and the 6 youth drum circle participants stayed and drummed in the tunnel for an hour. When we emerged from the tunnel we went out onto the dunes to look at the ocean and there were 5 or 6 grey whales hugging the coast, playing, and spraying their blow holes right before our eyes! It was magical. After that group, that same client we hadn't seen in years came back to Raven a month later to check in, and was referred to The Launch Pad House for homeless youth ages 18-21, which had just re-opened. He has been living at YSB ever since.


Family Services

I worked with a family that had their daughter enter into the CWS system. The parents were heavily addicted to Meth and would drink over a liter of whisky before noon. They had grown up in the community and had a history of alcoholism and abuse in their families. Almost all of their adult children from previous relationships were either homeless with mental health issues, selling themselves for drugs, in jail, on probation or in very unhealthy relationships.

When the parents' child was placed into protective custody they were forced into sobriety in order to get their child back. Both parents struggled and found ways to cheat the system and did show some signs of progress when it came to their 6 month review. They got into a sober living house and slowly started to open up to me about their struggles. I helped facilitate Mom getting into Healthy Moms, counseling, parenting classes and encouraged her to volunteer at the FRC to find more sober things to do that would build her self esteem and confidence. She opened up about domestic violence issues in her home, her fears about not getting her daughter back and her need to get on social security due to mental and physical health issues.

Over time I worked with Dad to get into parenting classes too. I supported them through the sometimes confusing CWS system. As we worked together they trusted me more and would share more about what was really going on in their lives. This made it easier for me to support them on their path to recovery. They realized that they were not taking responsibility for themselves and that they had a lot of baggage from their childhoods that they needed to look at. They got it that they had to start taking responsibility for their behavior which was a big step.

I successfully advocated for them to get an extension to 24 months for their court case review. The parents separated in the process and are still trying to work together to ensure that their daughter ends up with one of them or a relative.  Considering this family's history, they came a long way and I think had they not had hand's on support they probably wouldn't  have come this far.


Energy Services

The Energy Services Division successfully conducted two outreach events in conjunction with Northcoast Children's. Services (NCS) during the month of June. The first event was held at a NCS's Arcata site and the second was at the College of the Redwoods Child Development Center. At both events, staff from other agencies were available to assist Energy's outreach workers with translations for Spanish-speaking  applicants so that they could also receive assistance with their Pacific Gas and Electric, wood, propane, or oil bills and get signed up for weatherization services. In the end, over 40 Head Start and Early Head Start families were signed up for energy assistance. These outreach events can be considered especially successful given their ability to sign up a number of non-English speaking clients.


COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

MARCH 2014 SUCCESS STORY

AFACTR Member Story:

A month ago I got a referral from Child Welfare Services for a family who was going through domestic violence.  The interesting part about this family was that the abuser lived in a different county but found where the family was living, broke into their home during the middle of the night and physically assaulted mom and the oldest son. Mom had a broken nose and the son had some bruises. The abuser left the scene soon after and the police were not able to make an arrest. 

This situation caused some problems with the mom and the family getting assistance with Humboldt Domestic Violence Services since no one can find the dad, he could not be served a restraining order. This held back any progress. I don't understand how or why. Because of all the commotion and scary events, the landlord decided to serve the family with an eviction.  

I came into the picture three days before their eviction notice was up and the family was going to be homeless.  My cold call to the mother was easy and she decided to come in to the office that same day to meet with me. We quickly called the Social Services Intake Worker to put her on the RCAA MAC waiting list. Because of the situation and the family being in an unsafe situation, the family was moved up on the MAC waiting list. Social Services also gave the family hotel vouchers. Mom got on Cal Works which helped her get income and get that ball rolling. 

This parent has been going through domestic violence since the age of 16 when she met her ex-husband. Because of his controlling ways, she has never held a job or finished college courses she had started.  Mother expressed to me that she feels she lost her adulthood and needs to start from scratch, which means get a job for the first time in her life and live violence free. 

Unfortunately I have lost contact with the family ever since they got housing. From what I last heard, the family is doing well, is not homeless and the kids are still in school. 

 


 

ENERGY SERVICES DIVISION

 

February 2014 Success Story 

An Energy Services client recently completed time at rehab and was 40 days sober when he came into the Energy and Environmental Services Division for assistance with his energy bill. After leaving rehab, he moved from Hoopa to Eureka and did not have the $318.79 he needed to transfer services from his old address to his new one. 

Once he was able to get the power turned back on, he planned to have his daughter move back in with him. He was able to bring in all the required documentation. He was awarded $371 through the HEAP program which covered the amount he needed to transfer his services. 

 

The client was extremely happy and thanked us profusely for our assistance. He could not wait to contact his daughter to let her know that she could live with him again. 

 


 

Family Services Division Success Story

January 2014

“Every year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless, including more than 1.6 million children. 

http://www.familyhomelessness.org/children.php?p=ts 

These children are hidden from our view, but they are living in shelters, cars, and campgrounds. They are young and scared, and their parents and families are frustrated and desperate. 

http://www.familyhomelessness.org/families.php?p=ts 

Family homelessness is caused by the combined effects of lack of affordable housing, extreme poverty, decreasing government supports, changing demographics of the family, the challenges of raising children alone, domestic violence, and fractured social supports. As the gap between housing costs and income continues to widen and housing foreclosures increase, more and more families are at risk of homelessness. For extremely poor families and those with vulnerabilities or little safety net, even a seemingly minor event can trigger a catastrophic outcome and catapult a family onto the streets.”

Most families entering shelter are at one of the most frightening and low points of their lives.  They have experienced the final drop that made the cup overflow: the job that didn’t work out; the house that sold and they have to move out with no money for security deposit; the family that could no longer help them financially; the car that broke down and was too costly to repair; the child who became ill and needed care out of the area; the relationship that became violent; the alcohol or other drug abuse that became unmanageable; or the mental illness that had symptoms so severe that they were unable to maintain housing.  For the 250 people entering family shelter each year, these reasons tie directly to the work ahead of building goals to become more self-sufficient,  to be able to maintain housing, to stabilize their income and foster the strengths that hold their family in place and allowing all to thrive.

The family system used in shelter is holistic in assessment and approach.  It includes working with the adults AND children to establish the short and long term goals they would like the family to achieve; including all facets of the family’s functioning from health and wellness, diet, exercise, nutrition and gardening; financial literacy and money management; positive parenting; family fun night; communication skills; anger management; men’s group; women’s group; co-dependency; stress reduction; language of letting go; understanding addiction; relapse prevention and a variety of arts and crafts classes including knitting group for “big kids” and parents; big kid’s group; little big kid’s group; physical fun; and homework help. 

The offerings are dynamic and change with the needs of the families coming into shelter. The activities and lessons both are subtle and direct and spiral through every phase of the family’s day. The week’s community meeting addresses the shared efforts of staff and participants.  It is a place to practice positive communication, solution focused problem solving and acknowledgment of the week’s successes.  Together we take an active role in our community and our collective future. No singular change goes without rippling through the community.  As this dynamic program continues to thrive and develop, we are reminded that it is founded in a common believe that change is possible and that there may someday be an end to homelessness and its root causes.

 

“Success: achievement of intention- the achievement of something planned or attempted,”

 

 


                                      

Community Programs

February 2013

The first quarter of my AmeriCorps service year was very rewarding for me. The client success story I am most proud of involves a young pregnant mom who came to the Family Resource Center at the end of her second trimester having missed her last two prenatal appointments and also having lost her Medi-Cal and CalFresh eligibility. She was feeling lonely, depressed and overwhelmed by her pregnancy (and life in general) and needed support and help figuring out which step to take first (She was also driving an unregistered car with no insurance and no license). Together we got her back on Medi-Cal and CalFresh, scheduled a doctor's appointment for her and referred her to the public health nurse who does home visits with newborns and their moms. We also got her family on the HUD section 8 waiting list and she got her car registered and insured, and got a valid driver's license!

In December, she gave birth to a beautiful, happy, healthy baby boy and they are both doing very well. She is working towards education and career goals and feeling much more confident and successful.

There was a woman who came to have her taxes prepared at the Humboldt County Library in Eureka.  When she first came in, we discovered it was probably going to be more beneficial for her to itemize her deductions, after I went over a list of deductible items with her.  She was unaware of all the items she could deduct from her tax return, and did not have all the information we needed to fill out a Schedule A.  Since it was going to be to her benefit to return with the needed information, we rescheduled her to return.  We she came back with all her paperwork, she informed me that her tax return was going to determine whether or not she was going to be able to keep her home.  In completing her tax return we had come up with over $17,000 in expenses that were deductible from owning her home and have having a major medical procedure performed.  Her refund was over $1000 and she was very happy with the outcome.  It looks like she will get to hang on to her home!

 


 

Natural Resources Services (NRS)

February 2013

  

NRS staff worked with the City of Trinidad, City of Eureka, and other members of the North Coast Stormwater Coalition to organize, conduct outreach and host a stormwater workshop on Thursday, January 23rd. The turnout was excellent, with over 100 staff from local cities and Counties, state and Federal agency representatives, engineers, local contractors, AmeriCorps volunteers and students attending the free event.

The workshop, entitled "Reining in the Rain" provided information about how to treat stormwater on-site through "low impact development" (LID), including use of permeable pavement and other techniques. Topics included an overview of the benefits of low impact development, new stormwater regulations and requirements, examples of LID used locally, LID site considerations and lessons learned, a discussion of rain barrels and cisterns, and presentations by industry experts about permeable pavement options.

Managing stormwater run-off in an area with high precipitation and limited resources can be a challenge for developers, builders and local governments. This workshop was the first in a series of worrkshops NRS and the Coalition will host to address long term water quality and stormwater management needs throughout Humboldt and Mendocino Counties.