SLO County has a 5-year plan to cut homelessness. Here’s who will keep it on track

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has promised to reduce homelessness by 50% in five years.

But who will ensure that the county follows through on its plan to get folks off the streets and into housing?

A group of 11 volunteer citizens.

That’s the next step the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is taking in the effort after it voted on Tuesday to create a Citizens Accountability Commission.

The commission will monitor whether the county is meeting the goals outlined in the five-year plan — which contains rough timelines for when certain objectives should be accomplished. For example, the county plans to build more transitional housing like tiny homes and pallet shelters during the first half of the plan.

This isn’t the first time the county has tried to tackle the problem. More than a decade ago, the board committed to a 10-year plan to end homelessness — which the county failed to achieve.

Stakeholders hope this time will be different.

Greg Gillett, a San Luis Obispo attorney who partnered with former state Sen. Sam Blakeselee to complete an independent study on SLO County homelessness, said that accountability is more effective if it comes from outside of county government officials.

Greg Gillett partnered with former Senator Sam Blakeslee to form the SLO Citizens Commission on Homelessness.
Greg Gillett partnered with former Senator Sam Blakeslee to form the SLO Citizens Commission on Homelessness.

“Getting feedback from well-meaning, knowledgeable citizens, I think, would be such a benefit to any initiative, but particularly where there are so many people at stake,” Gillett said.

The commission’s 11 members were recommended by Blakeslee and Gillett.

The commission is required to meet at least three times a year and submit an annual report to the board and the Homeless Services Oversight Committee on the plan’s progress.

“It’s almost like a real-time audit,” Gillett told The Tribune.

Members serve two-year terms, and future members will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors — though the commission will appoint its chair, vice chair and secretary.

A goal of the commission is to ensure that everyday citizens, from business owners to people who are unhoused, can give feedback on the county’s progress in achieving the plan.

“It’s almost like a pure form of democracy,” Gillett said. “It’s more civic responsibility. It’s a showing to the Board of Supervisors that we have skin in the game. Just as much as they are here for us, we are here for them.”

Here’s the list of the commission’s members:

  • Greg Gillett, attorney

  • Sam Blakeslee, financial planner and former state senator

  • Laura Slaughter, registered nurse

  • Jim Salio, retired SLO County chief probation officer

  • Mike Draze, veteran and retired SLO County supervising senior planner

  • Chuck Davison, owner and CEO of Visit SLO CAL

  • Dr. Justin Davis, local medical physician

  • Christine Thornburg, accountant

  • Helene Ansolabehere Finger, Cal Poly engineering professor

  • Christine Robertson, executive director of the San Luis Coastal Education Foundation

  • Dr. René Bravo, SLO pediatrician