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Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has unveiled a plan to house the city’s homeless residents living along the railroad tracks downtown in the former Motel 6 on Pittsburg’s Loveridge Road.
The site would be a collaborative hub between the city of Antioch and Contra Costa County and include wraparound services: medical and behavioral health services, benefit assistance, case management, housing navigation and rapid rehousing assistance.
The program — the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan — is named for the unhoused man and lifelong Antioch resident killed by a train Nov. 19 while crossing the tracks to use the restroom at the Antioch Veterans Memorial and Marina.
“His death, along with many other similar deaths throughout the country, symbolizes everything that is contrary to our American values,” Thorpe said. “Individualism doesn’t free me or any of you from the greater good, which is needed for community cohesion.”
The Nov. 30 announcement comes in response to a candlelight vigil held Nov. 22 in Rocha’s memory at Antioch City Hall, where homeless advocates petitioned the city for additional services for its unhoused residents.
“Individualism doesn’t free me or any of you from the greater good, which is needed for community cohesion.”Mayor Lamar Thorpe
“This never should have happened,” a woman who identified herself as Desi said at the vigil. “Don’t let Louie’s death be in vain. We are asking (God) to touch the officials’ hearts, to let them understand what is going on.”
The plan would authorize $300,000 to obtain 15 rooms specifically for those who have been living by the railroad, which is owned by BNSF and heavily used for freight and Amtrak passenger trains. The 174-room former motel site was used last year by Contra Costa Health Services to shelter residents at high risk of COVID-19 through the state’s Project Roomkey and will reopen in early December.
Jazmin Ridley, the city’s unhoused resident coordinator, City Manager Ron Bernal and Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore have been reaching out to people living along the tracks to inform them of the program.
Code enforcement officials and the Antioch Police Department will also continue referrals and place residents on the program’s interest list as needed. As of Tuesday, the city had provided vouchers for the Executive Inn on East 18th Street to fill immediate needs for 22 individuals and six pets.
“The impact of living outdoors is not only unsafe, but it keeps people away from their families and having a stable living,” Ridley said, “and that’s something we want to be able to help out with.”
The plan will go to the City Council on Dec. 14 for approval.