Remnants of a homeless encampment lie strewn near the Oakley-Antioch border. The Antioch City Council is considering measures to help take homeless residents off the streets. (Photo by Glenn Gehlke)

The Antioch City Council has directed city staff to look into creating a position for an “unhoused resident coordinator” to address the needs associated with the housing crisis and homeless encampments.

The move came after a six-month fact-finding mission undertaken by the council’s ad-hoc committee on homeless encampments that involved multiple workshops, community meetings and briefings from subject-matter experts in an attempt to identify problems and solutions.

“It does not matter whether you live in a house or not,” Councilman Lamar Thorpe said. “Our job on City Council is to represent everybody.”

Following the fact-finding effort, Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts came back to the council in August with a series of recommendations, including possibly establishing the coordinator position, and directed city staff to draft a resolution that could be voted on at a future meeting.

Thorpe and Mott also suggested a safe parking facility where Antioch residents living in cars or RVs could park overnight.

“We found that many of our unhoused residents are living in vehicles,” Thorpe said. “There’s no place for them to go to safely park.”

Other recommendations to address the impacts of homelessness and homeless encampments included tiny house communities or Oakland-style Tuff Shed shelters, establishing a program to rent out hotel or motel rooms, making sharps containers available to minimize the risks posed by used syringes, providing portable restrooms/showers, and dumpsters to address the high volume of solid waste often found in and around homeless camps.

Thorpe stressed, however, that these are temporary solutions. Once they are put in place, the city may see to enact a no-camping ordinance.

Separately, the council gave itself a salary increase by a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock dissenting. The last pay increase went into effect Jan. 1, 2007.

“At this time I just personally can’t pass something like this, I think the money could go someplace else,” Ogorchock said, referencing low staffing levels in the Police Department and the need to fund programs to address homelessness.

For more than 12 years, council members have been taking home about $940 per month. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, they’ll start earning roughly $1,600 per month.