Since retirement from his career in education, Frank Porter works on housing issues with community organizations and local governments.  Frank is a member of the newly established nonprofit Housing El Dorado, which was established to “create and promote affordable housing solutions and support services that nurture individuals and families while encouraging self-sufficiency.”  Frank spoke to us about the homeless situation on the Western Slope of EDC and the projects that Housing El Dorado has started to help address the problem.

Frank offered two numbers to help assess the number of homeless people in our area.  1) A winter  of 2019 study counted 490 homeless people on the Western Slope, which is estimated to have 80% of the homeless in the county; and 2) EDCOE data from 2019 estimated that 850 children who attend EDC schools are underhoused.  Frank also debunked three myths: Myth 1. "Homeless are being bussed up here from the Valley to use our services."  In fact, most of them grew up in this area.  Myth 2. "They don't want to work."  In fact, 36% were unable to work, 14% are working, and 46% are looking for work.  Myth 3. "Housing will cost too much."  In fact, supporting our labor force with local affordable housing is good business; local businesses are starved for entry-level employees.

Housing El Dorado believes that "Housing First" is the best first step to break the cycle of issues facing these people, because such a policy: 1) decreases emergency and health service costs; 2) decreases law enforcement costs; 3) improves the physical and mental health of participants; and 4) improves the overall quality of life and safety of our community.

The first major project of this organization was the "Pathways Project" which, in the absence of the Nomadic Shelter program from previous years, provided safe overnight lodging at Green Valley Church from January to March of 2021.  They had to start small in order to get the program running smoothly, supporting 20 vulnerable people on the street, and adding 5-10 more as people transitioned out.  The project provided evening entertainment like movies and reading, and provided support for those needing mental health, addiction and health care.

Upcoming projects include a Pathways 2.0 Winter Lodging Program; conducting a Housing Survey; protecting mobile home owners from huge land rent increases; and promoting affordable or transitional housing via the Placerville Armory, Federated Church and Project Homekey on the Western Slope.

We thank Frank Porter for this insight into ways we can provide service to our community by helping those least fortunate among us, and thereby helping local businesses with their workforce needs.  To hear the details of Frank's presentation, please see the Zoom meeting recording at this link to our FaceBook page.